Sir,” the official said, “come down before my child dies.”
“Go,” said Jesus. “Your son will live.” (John 4:49-50)
I think God is teaching me to be more like this official, who in today’s red letter passage asked Jesus for the second time to heal his child. He’s teaching me to persevere when things don’t go as planned.
If I had been this official, it would have taken everything I had just to have the courage to come to Jesus in the first place. If Jesus said something that indicated that he wasn’t going to grant my request, I probably would have been out of there.
I can get easily discouraged.
But the royal official was persistent. Jesus had just answered his first petition with an accusation, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”
That sounds like a “No” to me. It even seems kind of rude.
But maybe it was also a test of sorts to see how the official would respond. Would he get huffy, bitter or discouraged? Would he say, “I thought you were a prophet, but you obviously don’t represent God.” Or, “Don’t you know who I am? I work for the king. How dare you turn me down!” Or, “I walked all this way for nothing. I should have known you would never help me.” Or would he slink away with a downcast face, feeling like nothing ever worked out for him?
He didn’t do any of these things. Instead he was respectful. He didn’t listen to his negative self talk, or jump to conclusions. He didn’t back down. He decided that there was a chance that if he asked Jesus again, Jesus might acquiesce.
And this is a red letter blog series about what Jesus said, so let’s look at his reply, “Go, your son will live.”
Isn’t this totally cool? The man asked for Jesus to take the 16 hour trip from Cana to Capernaum, but Jesus said this wasn’t necessary, the healing would be done remotely! It’s the kind of Lord we serve, that when we pray in his name, he can just say the word and our prayer can be answered. I think we forget that sometimes.
Plus, we see that Jesus was willing to be persuaded to help someone, even when he felt like their heart wasn’t where it needed to be. This gives me tremendous encouragement, because I know that sometimes my heart isn’t right. I want to have pure motives, but I get all tangled up in anger, longings, disappointments or hurt feelings. I don’t feel worthy of Jesus being my advocate, but he still is.
We also see that Jesus does care, even when evidence points to the contrary. If we get a “No” from God, we immediately want to think that God isn’t concerned about us personally. Believing that he is, in spite of today’s “Exhibit A,” is an ongoing spiritual battle that we have to fight.
What are we taking away from today’s red letter passage? How can we learn to persevere? Here are questions we can ask ourselves:
- When something discouraging happens, do we decide that Jesus won’t work?
- When we get a “No,” will we try one more time?
- Do we believe that Jesus has much more power than we’re currently giving him credit for?
- Do we realize that Jesus’s nature is to respond, even when we’re struggling spiritually?
- Do we tell ourselves that Jesus doesn’t care, or will we fight to believe that he does?
Taking a deeper look at what we’re thinking when life doesn’t go as planned, or when we get a “No” from God, will teach us how we can become better at persevering.
Because it really is about how we look at things. This morning I was journaling, and I realized that I’m having thoughts like, “Why should I keep trying? It’s not going to work out.”
Man, that sounds morose. But maybe some of you have the same inner voice. Maybe it’s really loud right now, because you’re weary from the setbacks.
Let’s remember that there are going to be setbacks (John 16:33), but Jesus is looking for those who will kick the negative self talk to the curb, and keep on going.
When life disappoints, we can focus our mind, instead, on three truths:
Jesus is still with us.
He’s willing to help.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1