Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hit Rock Bottom, But Bounce Back

I know. I have been there. I know what it looks like, feels like and smells like. I have had a bloody nose, bruised ego, bitter disappointments and blinding set backs.

When you hit bottom, your dreams are decimated, joys turn to jitters, faith flounders, and wishes wastes away.

One dear lady hit rock bottom and decided to seek professional help from a psychiatrist. The recovery process was not easy, but the psychiatrist finally decided she had made it. It was with a great deal of pleasure as well as a smidgen of professional pride that he invited the woman in for one final session. “You know that we seldom use the word “cured” to our patients, but I can tell you that you are 100% CURED.”

To his surprise, an unhappy look came over the woman’s face. “What’s wrong,” he asked, “I thought you would be thrilled.”

“Oh, it’s fine for you,” she snapped, “but look at it from my point of view. When I began seeing you a few months ago I was Joan of Arc. NOW I AM A NOBODY.”

That says it all. When you hit rock bottom, regardless who you are or who you think you are, you suddenly feel like nobody!

The Bible tells us that the woman in our Scripture verse for today came to Jesus from behind. Nobody’s do not feel worthy to make eye contact. They settle for scraps from the Master’s banquet table rather than to accept the His best. The famous Prodigal Son is a classic example of a person who has hit rock bottom. He pleaded, “I am no longer worthy to be called thy son. Make me a hired servant.”

This was not false humility. It was an admission of the distance that he had fallen. He knew that he didn’t deserve a break, but that’s what grace and mercy are all about. The Bible explains it like this in Hebrews 4:16. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of GRACE that we may obtain MERCY, and find GRACE to help in time of need.” No one needs mercy and grace more than those of us who hit rock bottom and found no way to recover without the grace and mercy of God.

The Gospel as written by Mark records the story of a woman who had hit rock bottom and explains what she did to BOUNCE BACK. Look at it with me carefully, please.

#1: She bounced back from trying to succeed without having just one success story to tell.

(Mark 5:26 – “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years…was nothing better but rather grew worse.”)

Her track record is easy to calculate. It looks like this. 12 years she tried. 12 years she failed. The net result is ZERO. That’s about as rock bottom as you can get. ZERO self image. ZERO tolerance and understand of her peers. ZERO bank account. Nothing was coming up roses. Everything was coming up ZERO, and ZERO won’t pay your mortgage or buy you a hot dog at a baseball game or get a great, big welcome at the next church you visit.

But she became a ZERO and bounced back to become a HERO of faith. It all started when she heard of Jesus. He gave her status and recognition for the ages. God makes ZEROS heros, and you can be God’s next one.

#2: She bounced back from a catastrophic illness that left her broke.

(Mark 5:26 – “Spent all that she had…”)

Thousands in America are suffering as the result of the same problem. Medical bills mount so quickly that savings and solvency are wiped out. According to a study published by the Journal Health Affairs a short time ago, illness and medical bills caused one half of 1, 458,000 personal bankruptcies. Families hit rock bottom financially in attempting to deal with a physical catastrophic illness.

Some of us can relate to her as her finances were in complete disarray, but the poor woman in our text found something that money cannot buy. She found love that would not languish, hope that could not be harnessed; Bread of Life that would never grow stale and the Water of Life which could not and would not every go dry. When her money ran out, her faith bridged the gap and made up for the difference. Money will never take the place of mercy, acceptance, and faultless love.

When she was broke, she found the boundless blessings of God. May you make that discovery as well.

#3: She bounced back from resigning to a life of hopelessnessto recovering wholeness.

(Mark 5:34 – “Daughter, thy faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be whole of your plague.”)

She never gave up hope. She had to give up money, social engagement and quality of life, but she never, ever gave up hope. Hope is what keeps us alive and kicking when all seems to be lost. It sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible. It keeps fighting when the battle appears to be lost. It is what puts faith to work when doubting would be much easier.

As long as there is God, there is hope. Don’t give up. Take courage from the words of Psalms 42:5, 11. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him…”

Jean Kerr said, “Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” The difference between hemorrhaging to death and hope could be spelled out in 5 letters from the alphabet. They are J E S U S!!!! Don’t look down, or around or back. Look up. That’s where hope comes from.

Bouncing Back

Pastor J & Bob

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