Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When Things Go From Bad to Worse

The terminally ill lady in Mark 5:25-28 had to discover that the first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.

She was broke. She was betrayed. She was literally bleeding to death and befuddled by countless failures.

The text tells us that the harder she tried the worse off she became and no relief or turnaround was in sight. It was not until she hit bottom that she begin to look up. Several things added to her grief.

· This was not a 3 day virus or even the 7 year itch. This had been going on without interruption for 12 years. She was not only worried sick, but weary to the bone. Being sick that long will not only cost you an arm and a leg, but deplete you of energy to keep fighting and trying.

· Her nest egg of savings and assets had dwindled down to little if any at all. Her future was dismal with few dollars to brighten her hopes. You have heard of going from rags to riches….well her predicament was the opposite. She went from riches to rags. That is indeed going from bad to worse.

· If she were living today, she would probably be placed under Hospice care to comfort her in her last days.

Things were so bad that she would have agreed with Henry Kessinger who once told his staff, “There can not be a crisis next week. My schedule is full.”

Job’s schedule was full of crisis also. He lamented, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”(Job 14:1)

The problem is not what will trouble do to me, but what will I do to trouble? Ralph Waldo Emerson put troubles and difficulties in proper perspective when he declared, “Difficulties exist to be surmounted.”

You can’t run fast enough to get away from trouble, but you can stand and fight to overcome it. I am inspired by what Ann Landers had to say about those times when things go from bad to worse. She wrote, “If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this: expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in eye and say, I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.”

That’s the spirit. That’s the courage. That’s the motivation that the woman in our text had, but look at it as progression in each step that she took that led to turning her life completely around….and being made whole.

Step one: she reached a point of desperation in the life she was enduring.

(Mark 5:26 – “(she) had spent all that she had, and was nothing better, but rather grew worse…”)

Before she could go from bad to better, she had to become consumed with desperation to have the better things in life. William S. Burroughs made the following statement. “Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.”

Wanting out of a bad situation is the mother of the invention for finding ways to get out. Her problems did not cause her to go to pieces. They actually drove her to her senses and in desperation she found a way out.

Step 2: she was fueled by inspiration.

(Mark 5:27 – “When she heard of Jesus…”)

Desperation led her to inspiration. That is step number 2. She got fired up about a possibility that she may or may not have ever heard about before. She heard of Jesus. I don’t know what she heard. Did she hear that he was born of a virgin? Did she hear that he turned water into wine? Did she hear that he raised the dead, open blinded eyes and gave hearing to the deaf? Did she hear that he befriended sinners?

Did she hear that nothing is impossible to him? Did she hear that he is the Fountain of life that never runs dry? Did she hear that he is hope for the hurting, deliverer for those in despair?

Did she hear that nature forms us, sin deforms us, school informs us but only Christ transforms us?

I don’t know what she heard, but what ever she heard about Christ inspired her to try again, take a plunge of faith and fan the fire that was ignited in her soul. La Fontaine summarized what happens in such a moment in these immortal words. “Man is so made that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities disappear.”

Impossibilities melt in the fire of the inspiration of a God who can do all things and knows no limits.

Step 3: she then moved from desperation to inspiration to determination.

(Mark 5:27 – “(she) came in the press behind, and touched his garment.”)

You get enough desperation fired by inspiration and nothing can stop you. Goethe was even more positive. He said, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.” It consists of fortitude that will fight to the finish, focus that will not fade and faith that never frets.

She had it. General George Patton, Jr. challenged his troops to “overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.” The Bible says that the hemorrhaging woman in our Scripture reading came in the mob of people who were swarming around Christ. She could have given up and gone home, but she didn’t. She pushed and shoved until she got to the miracle worker. Determination like that wins.

Step 4: She had instant realization and gratification.

(Mark 5:29 – “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed…”)

What a mighty God we serve. He was able to fix a12 years of nagging problems in the snap of your finger. She just touched Christ by faith, and He did the rest.

There is an old chorus that is so meaningful to me now that goes like this. Sing it with me and I will believe with you that things will get better not worse.

“Reach out and touch the Lord has He goes by,

you will find He’s not to busy to hear your cry,

He’s passing by this moment your needs to supply.

Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.”

Touching Him,

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

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