Forever, O Lord, Your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You have established the earth, and it stands fast. By Your appointment they stand this day, for all things are Your servants. Psalm 119:89-91
I sat with this husband and wife for probably our 15th time together. And while it seemed on previous occasions like God was going to do a miracle of restoration in their marriage, they seemed in that moment, to be enemies. With the hurtful words they were exchanging, they were demonstrating the “biting and devouring one another” that Paul shares in his letter to the Galatians. Both of them have lost hope in a miracle of healing for their marriage.
Maybe you and your spouse are in a similar place in your marriage. Or maybe you and your spouse are struggling to hold on to hope for another reason - a wayward child, a devastating medical diagnosis, or maybe even job loss or financial challenges.
Whatever the reason, in the place you find yourself, God wants to share some things with you, that He has written in His Word to encourage you in this season. He is aware of your situation and wants to speak to you. Will you stop now and ask Him to speak, believing that He sees you and that He wants to speak to you?
Two Stories of Faith
And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed Him on the way. Mark 10:46-52
In this passage, we read about Jesus and His disciples leaving Jericho. And we hear about the faith of a blind man named Bartimaeus, who recovered his sight because of Jesus’ healing of him. But don’t miss the perseverance of Bartimaeus - “many rebuked him, telling him to be silent”. And when Jesus seemingly didn’t hear him the first time he cried out, Bartimaeus cried out even more loudly, despite the opposition from the crowd.
Bartimaeus had a faith that persevered through obstacles in his life. He did not let his blindness, the opposition of others, and any other fears he may have had get in the way of him calling out for help to Jesus. And this persevering faith was rewarded as Jesus miraculously restored his sight. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. I am thankful for the example of Bartimaeus’ persevering faith. But there is one more story…
Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His feet and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And He went with him. And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him…While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5:22-24, 35-36
A little earlier in Mark’s Gospel we meet Jairus, a synagogue leader whose daughter is sick to the point of death. He asks Jesus to come and lay hands on his daughter so she will be well again. So Jesus goes with Jairus. But as they are going to Jairus’ house, some folks from Jairus’ house came to tell him the terrible news that his daughter had died. This had to be a heart-breaking moment for Jairus - thinking he had gone to find Jesus too late to help his daughter.
Jesus comes alongside Jairus by sharing five words that challenge his faith: “Do not fear only believe”. In Jairus’ moment of despair over the news of his daughter’s death, he is confronted with Jesus’ call to not fear, but believe. Will he remain steadfast in his faith in Jesus’ ability to heal - the faith that brought him to Jesus in the first place?
If you read the rest of the story in this passage, you discover that Jairus does indeed remain faithful, and Jesus comes to his house and brings his daughter back to life. It says that the folks who witnessed this miracle were “overcome with amazement”.
Your situation and circumstances are likely very different from Jairus’ and Bartimaeus’, but I believe the Lord still rewards persevering faith. Hebrews tells us that “He rewards those who seek Him” (11:6). Will you persevere in believing God is working in your circumstances as you continue to cry out to Him in faith? Will you take the steps He is asking you to take even in the midst of some doubt and unbelief you have mixed with faith and trust in Him?
Two Encouragements for You
I pray you will draw faith and encouragement from the stories of Bartimaeus and Jairus - and that you will see God working through your persevering faith. He is, remember, forever faithful! But two final things to further encourage you in the midst of your present circumstances:
(Jesus speaking) I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’m not sure I can add much to the plain words of Jesus in this verse. Jesus says that in Him, you can have peace. What a gift His peace is when my heart is wrapped up in unbelief or fear. That peace is able to calm the storm inside me.
But I hope you didn’t miss the other thing that Jesus speaks: I have overcome the world. Whatever you are facing, Jesus says you can “take heart”. Just as He was able to overcome a man’s blindness and a daughter’s death, He is able to work in you and in your situation to bring about His purposes.
The final thing to encourage you is part of the lyrics of a song by Vertical Worship entitled Faithful Now. The song encourages us to remain steadfast in our belief knowing that God moves mountains and fells giants through faith. But here is the part of the lyrics that has been most helpful for me. The Lord is using these lyrics to grow my persevering faith in Him:
And I will speak to my fear, I will preach to my doubt.
That You were faithful then, You'll be faithful now.
These words remind me that I have to “speak the truth” to myself - as well as “preach the truth” to myself. When I am confronted with fear, doubt, and unbelief, I must meet those with the truths of God’s Word.
One such passage is Colossians 3:1-3: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
Another is in 1 Corinthians 1:23-25: So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
Are you allowing God’s Word to “speak” and “preach” to your heart, mind, and soul, in the midst of your situation? If you are, continue to do that, persevering in your faith and trust in the Lord and His work in your life circumstances. And if you are not doing that, take a moment to confess that to Him. Then take time to marinate on these, other passages, and biblical stories that can help you remain steadfast as you cry out to Him.
As a born-again, adopted son or daughter of the King, He sees you. But beyond seeing you and your circumstances, He desires to work through your persevering faith in Him to continue to shape you into the image of Jesus! What do you want Jesus to do for you?
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2023. Send comments or questions to info@AbidingMarriage.org
Image by John Hain from Pixabay