Saturday, March 26, 2016

doubt.

It's that time of year where we fix our eyes on the cross and what Jesus has done for our sins and for our lives. We ponder the ideas of Good Friday and maybe even continue to ask why it is "good" when it is remembered as the day Jesus died. We remember the beatings Jesus endured, the calling out of scoffers and hear the pounding of the nails as they pierced Jesus' hands and feet.
A few days later we praise the One who brought the dead to life. We celebrate the victory Jesus had over death, our sins and the world. We are filled with awe and wonder that someone could take our place, take our punishment, so that we may have life. 

In the midst of those two days, I am thinking about doubt. I know... how fitting... I celebrate all of these things for years and at age 24, I doubt. Maybe not necessarily that I doubt Jesus dying and coming back to life, but I doubt that Jesus has power in my life. Some days I doubt that I have the patience I need to work with 21 ten-year-olds. Some days I doubt Jesus has the power to change me. Some days I doubt there will be healing in places of hurt. Some days I doubt Jesus has power in a world filled with terrorism and shootings and drugs. Some days I doubt. In fact, I would venture to say I doubt most days... or even every day. 

But then I was reading in the book of Mark about a family who doubted in ways similar to my doubts I think. Here's a little background story... The family knows their daughter is sick and dying so they send someone to tell Jesus and ask him to come and heal her. He agrees but since there are so many people now following him, it takes him a while to get there. He makes some stops along the way, heals other people and in the mean time, the daughter dies. It's sad. Tragic. The family is broken-hearted, hurting, and in disbelief. When Jesus finally gets to their house here's how it goes... 
And when he entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. 
Stop right there. This isn't the kind of laugh like Jesus is funny (although he can be). This is a "are you freaking kidding me?!" laugh. The family is looking at their dead daughter, Jesus says she's just sleeping, and they doubt him. They laugh in their doubt and disbelief.   Keep going...
But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.   Mark 5:39-42
Woah. So here they are laughing in doubt and Jesus doesn't seem phased by it. He doesn't get mad that they doubt him. He doesn't say well then, I'm outta here since you clearly don't understand my power. He stays. He heals their daughter. He does what they say he couldn't do! Despite the family's doubt, Jesus shows his power.

After I read that story, I was reminded of an old lady named Sarah and her husband Abraham. Sarah was getting along in years, well past her child-bearing opportunity. But one day an angel of the Lord came to her and told her she was going to bear a child. And you know what she did when she heard it? She laughed. She didn't believe at her old age that she could have a child. Nevertheless, here's how it goes...
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age.   Genesis 21:1-2
Sarah laughed in doubt, but that didn't stop God. He still did what he promised to do.

And that's why I'm thinking about my doubts at this time. Just as in these two stories, I'm betting there were a lot of people laughing on Good Friday and the days that followed... not because there was anything funny, but in disbelief. I'm betting some people laughed when Jesus said he was going to return. I'm betting some people laughed when they saw people waiting at Jesus' tomb. There must have been some serious doubt when Jesus died. Was he really who he said he was?

But their doubt, and my doubt, does not stop Jesus. He did not abandon his people simply because of their laughter. He didn't stay in the tomb just because people doubted his return. No. Despite their disbelief, Jesus still showed his power. Despite our doubt, Jesus rose again and took away our sins.

So as I celebrate Easter this year, I am also celebrating the fact that no matter what my doubt, Jesus is still going to show his power in my life. Even though I doubt I have the patience to get through the day, Jesus does not abandon me and prove my doubt. He shows up and proves his power. Just because I doubt Jesus has the power to change my selfish ways, he does not prove me right and let me be as I am. He changes me from the inside out. And just because I might doubt Jesus could really take away all my sins, it doesn't stop him from dying on the cross for me and for you. Despite our disbelief, he died and rose again. He showed his power in ways I could not imagine.

It's almost as if I hear little whispers... "it's okay, my child. Your doubts do not stop me. I will still save you. Keep pressing on and one day you will doubt no more."