How does God inspire me to find hope for the future?
We long for hope in our lives, especially when all we see is darkness. Chapter two shows us that as we fix our eyes on God, He can help us believe that there are brighter days ahead and that He has good plans in store for our future.
About This Study
As Jesus traveled and taught many people heard his teaching and, just like many churchgoers today after hearing a good sermon, simply went home without understanding or turning their lives around. Others, however, who heard Jesus teach and wanted to learn more. They hung around and listened as Jesus pulled the disciples aside for some intense leadership training and further explanation.
Jesus had much to teach his twelve apostles to prepare them to carry on his mission after he was gone. They needed to know some secrets about the kingdom of God. They could not understand these secrets on their own. They needed the special revelation that only he could give. Aren’t you encouraged to read that Jesus did not shoo away those who were not among the Twelve? He was willing to share the secrets with anyone who wanted to listen and learn.
The situation is no different for us today. The only way we ever truly understand the Word of God is through the Holy Spirit who helps us. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:3).
That is the reason you are encouraged to begin each daily Waypoint with the short prayer from Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
Jesus encountered those who admired his words, yet were content to watch from the periphery; and others who wanted to know more and pressed in closer to hear him elaborate on his teaching. The first group certainly included those challenged by Jesus’ words. The second is where you would be more likely to find those who were changed by Jesus’ truths. In which group would you be found?
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
Father, don’t let me be content to stand on the periphery of truth. I don’t want to just be challenged by your Word, I want to be changed. Give me a determination to press in and learn all you have to teach me. For your glory. Amen.
So far in their travels, the disciples have seen Jesus calm a horrific storm, heal diseased and infirmed people, and command demons to leave the possessed. They have seen Jesus raise a dead girl to life, walk on water, and feed thousands with a meager amount of food. They’ve heard teaching about the kingdom and have seen Jesus live that teaching through his words and actions. Yet here are the very same people—the ones closest to Christ, the ones we would consider religious experts—still unable to grasp the identity of Jesus. Talk about lack of perception! These men watched as he touched blind eyes and made them see, and deaf ears and made them hear and still could not see the truth of who he was nor hear the truth of what he taught.
You may have heard the term “lifelong learning.” It’s something the military emphasizes as a way to open doors of opportunity. As a Christ follower you must commit yourself to lifelong learning about him. Sisters, with our best efforts we will never understand all there is to know about God and his work, but he will teach us more and more about him as we make ourselves open to his training.
Friend, there is no shame in not understanding the fullness of God. The only thing that must disappoint us is when we stop learning and think we’ve learned all there is to know. Or if, like the disciples, we forget what we’ve already learned. We must be guided by the principle that the more we know him, the more we love him. The more we love him, the more we worship him. The more we worship him, the easier it is to trust his plan. The more we trust his plan, the more we want to be part of that plan.
As I type these words I watch a storm move across the ocean and spill onto the shore. The storm made a quick debut and the scene on the beach is anything but peaceful. The wind is blowing; people are frantic to pull down umbrellas and tents. And the beautiful morning had held such promise of a lazy day of beach-bum perfection.
Storms, literal or symbolic, can be swift and unexpected. But they are going to come. Even when you are serving Christ storms will come. The disciples would tell you storms come even when Jesus is right next to you.
The event described in Mark 4 was not your average storm. This storm threatened to overwhelm the boat with its furious wind. The disciples found themselves in a desperate situation and they were terrified. Don’t miss the irony here: the carpenter, Jesus, was resting peacefully while the professional fishermen, James, John, Andrew, and Peter, were frantic with fear. Jesus was able to sleep because of his trust in God. The disciples did not see trust in his relaxation; they saw a lack of care and concern for their welfare.
Nothing was farther from the truth. Jesus was concerned enough for the disciples that he calmed the storm and gave them an “aha!” moment as they began to grasp who he really was (Mark 4:40–41). On a day when the disciples thought they would simply sail to the other side of the sea, they got a glimpse of the true identity of this one they followed. Only God had such power over nature. This storm became training ground for them to learn more of God’s power.
There are days when my boat feels like it is capsizing. I share the anxiety expressed by poet E. E. Cummings when he wrote, “King Christ, this world is all aleak; and lifepreservers there are none.” Those are the days I remind myself I don’t need a life preserver because Jesus is in the boat with me.
Here’s a question for you: If you were there the day Jesus made the audacious claim, “The child is not dead but sleeping,” would you be among those who laughed at him, or among those who would get up and give her something to eat when her life returned? Both?
Earlier in Mark 5, Jairus, the girl’s father, went to find Jesus to plead with him to come and help his daughter, but Jesus was delayed and word came the daughter died. He had faith that Jesus could heal her, but now she was dead. All hope was gone. All faith was lost. She was not asleep. She was dead. The very presence of the mourners confirmed her demise. Then this man Jesus made the foolhardy statement that she is not dead, only sleeping. Laughable.
Granted, laughter is a natural response to something that sounds outlandish. Laughter was ninety-year-old Sarah’s response in Genesis 18:12 when God told her she would have a child in her old age. Her husband laughed as well when he received the same message. There was laughter of a different sort when their baby boy Isaac was born.
Back in the home of Jairus, Jesus touched the girl and she was no longer dead. He restored her to life. The laughter of unbelief surely turned to laughter of amazement in that place! Life needs nourishment, so Jesus commanded someone to give her something to eat. Oh, I hope I would be the one to jump up to get food to fill that girl’s belly, laughing joyfully all the way to the kitchen!
Thoughts for Reflection
<ol class="ol1"> <li class="li1"><span class="s2">Do you believe that you need an answer from God for your own suffering and despair?</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2">Write or share why you feel this way. And when you have no answers to your despair, how do you react?</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2">What is most comforting for you when you despair without answers?</span></li> <li class="li2"><span class="s4">Describe these things. Like the psalmist, write a lament to God in which you cry out your frustrations.</span></li> </ol>