|THE HARDEST THING
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
June 20, 1999
This morning we’d like share about the hardest thing that every parent is called on to do - at every stage of parenting. And that is letting go of our children. As they grow - and throughout the experiences of life - good or bad - we need to learn how to trust God with their lives.
I invite you to turn with me to Luke 8:40-56 - and we’re going to look at the life of a man who came face to face with one of those moments where he had to let go. And there are three truths here, that we’ll come to, that are helpful to us in trusting God with our lives - and the lives of our children.
And notice, I said “our” lives too. If you’re not a parent stay with us. This isn’t just a teaching about parenting. The bottom line of what we’re talking about is a teaching for all of us on trusting God.
Luke 8:40-56: Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And there came a man named Jarius, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus’ feet he besought Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As He went, the people pressed round Him.
Let me pause here a minute and talk a little bit about what’s going on. Jesus and His disciples were returning from a missions trip across the Sea of Galilee. As they came to Capernaum, there was a large crowd that had gathered there. These were people who had been in Capernaum during Jesus’ previous ministry - many of them had been healed by Jesus or had friends and family who had been healed. They’d seen and heard His message and were welcoming Him back.
Jarius was a leader in the synagogue - a man of prominence - who was no stranger to Jesus. He knew about Jesus’ ministry either by first hand experience or because others had shared with him.
Its not hard to imagine Jarius and the other synagogue leaders - discussing Jesus - His character and reputation. On one hand are the theological issues and possible blasphemy - and yet on the other hand the sick and dying were being healed.
There’s a point where all this discussion was purely intellectual - a good religious debate. But now, Jarius’ only daughter - just 12 years old - is dying. And in a really brave and gutsy move - a move of desperation - setting his rank and position aside - Jarius joins the crowd welcoming Jesus. He falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Him to come and save his daughter. And, Jesus begins to walk to Jarius’ home.
Verse 43: And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one, came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased.
This woman had been bleeding for 12 years. Because of the type of bleeding that she had - according to the law in Leviticus 15 - she was unclean - a social and religious outcast. For 12 years she couldn’t have any social contact or be a part of any religious service. This is probably why she thought she had to sneak up on Jesus rather than just talking to Him face to face.
For 12 years she’d paid doctors to make her well and for 12 years she’d been sick. Her last option was to reach out to Jesus in faith and hope that somehow she would be healed.
Verse 45: And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?”
When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!”
But Jesus said, “Some one touched me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from Me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before Him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
While He was still speaking, a man from the ruler’s house - from Jarius’ house - came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.”
But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.”
And when He came to the house, He permitted no one to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.”
And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand He called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and He directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.
There are three truths here that concern letting go of our children. The first concerns....
1. WHO’S IN CHARGE
Recently a friend sent me a list of “Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter” There are ten of these rules. Let me share just one to give the flavor of these:
“Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.”
Can you imagine going to pick up your date and being met with this?
We often delude ourselves into thinking that we have absolute control over our lives - and control over our children. And for a brief time we do have some control over them.
But, we need to be impressed with the desperation of Jarius. He comes to Jesus - setting aside his position - his influence - in humility - with nothing left. Every part of His life that he controlled is given up. His daughter is dying. And he realizes - that with what’s really important in life - he has no control. He desperately puts his life and the life of His daughter into Jesus’ hands.
If would be so good for us if we could learn to do this before we get to the point of desperation.
There’s an unwritten code that Armenian parents abide by - we’re always working so that our children will have a better start and position in life than we had. We make all kinds of plans for them - about schooling and the experiences they’ll have growing up. We set aside money for college and the future. But what control do we really have?
Families are dysfunctional. Parents and kids can’t seem to communicate with each other. Parents can’t seem to communicate with parents. And yet they go on trying to keep the lid on all the emotions and problems - putting on a well controlled outward appearance - but dying inside. Trying to control their lives.
We need to see that our desperation - our lack of control - already exists. What real control do we have over our lives and the lives of our children? We need to trust God and let go of trying to control them and us.
The second truth concerns....
2. ASKING FOR HELP - bringing our children and situations to God.
Jarius comes to Jesus and asks for help. Jesus immediately moves towards Jarius’ house. Its like Jesus was just waiting to be asked. Jesus’ doesn’t say, “Excuse Me, but the crowd won’t let me pass.” Or, “I just got here. Let Me check in at the hotel first.” Jarius asks and Jesus moves.
On the way there’s this sick woman who touches Jesus - and so there is a delay. Jesus has to physically stop and deal with this woman’s situation. And then, someone from Jarius’ house comes and tells everyone that his little girl has died.
But, Jesus isn’t distracted by all this. He tells Jarius, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” Jesus takes his inner circle of disciples - Peter, John and James - takes Jarius and his wife - and goes directly to the room where the little girl’s body is lying. This is something we need to be impressed with: The plea is made and Jesus moves to answer it - and nothing will distract Him from that.
How often prayer - which should be our first response - is usually our last resort. Time and time again in the Bible God tells us that He’s just waiting for us to ask.
Recorded in Jeremiah 29, God says to His people, “Call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you....” (Jeremiah 29:12-14)
In Luke 11 - Jesus is teaching His disciples about prayer, and He says to them, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Luke 11:5)
We think that our situation is unique - the problems of our family - we’re all alone and there are no solutions - there’s no way out. And that’s when we need to be reminded - God’s promise is there over and over in Scripture - seek Me and I’m here - and nothing will distract Me from answering your prayer.
The third truth is to......
3. REALIZE THAT GOD CAN DO THE MIRACULOUS
When Jesus arrives at Jarius’ house the professional mourners are going full blast. In those days - as some cultures today - they hired mourners to lament over the death of someone. They would wail and cry and shriek - rip their clothing apart - tear out their hair - beat themselves. And musicians are there playing funeral music. Its a powerful and chaotic scene of despair and emptiness in the face death.
Coming to this scene - when the news of the child’s death had reached Jarius, Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid - only believe.” Now Jesus arrives and in a very calm manner tells them to stop carrying on. He says, “She isn’t dead, but asleep.” This isn’t permanent. And in verse 53 we read that they all laughed at Jesus. Because, they knew that this child was dead.
And then, Jesus calls this child back to life. Jesus restores this little girl and the parents are amazed - literally they couldn’t believe their eyes. They had no way to explain what they were seeing.
Many times our God is too small. Its not that God cannot do the miraculous - its that we don’t expect Him to.
Jesus’ words to Jarius should stick like glue in our mind. “Don’t be afraid; only believe.”
Letting go of our children doesn’t mean that God is going to work everything out the way we want Him to. Sometimes children die. Sometimes they leave home and “we” never see them come back.
Letting go of our children means that we acknowledge that God is the one who really controls all things. We’re challenged to come to Him in prayer and present everything we hold dear to Him. And then He says to us, “Don’t be afraid - only believe.”
We may not see it. We may not understand it. But that is what the Almighty and all loving God - the God who creates and sustains all things - who healed a woman sick for 12 years - who brought a little Capernaum girl back to life - who loves our children more than we could ever understand - this is what He says to us: “Don’t be afraid - only believe.” Let go and see what I will do.