“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into various trials, Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.” (Jas. 1:2-4)
In the Gospels and in the book of Acts of the New Testament…there are many examples of human crisis, desperation, and need.
Luke 8:22 through 8:56 presents four such examples of people who have reached the point of desperation in their lives, who turn to Jesus for help.
They were the disciples in jeopardy in the storm at sea…the man who had the legion of demons cast out…the woman who touched the border of Jesus’ garment…and Jairus the ruler of a synagogue.
In Luke 8:22-25, the disciples and Jesus are in a boat crossing a lake, when a strong wind creates a storm dangerous enough to place their lives at risk. But Jesus fell asleep at the beginning of their journey across the lake and is still asleep as water from the waves are coming into and filling up the boat.
The disciples wake up Jesus, and excitedly say to Him “Master, master, we perish.” Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves, and there was calm where moments before there was a perilous storm.
Luke 8:25 then reads “And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they, being afraid, marveled, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! For he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”
Because this story is so brief, and the happy ending comes so quickly, it is easy to gloss over the serious import of this story.
On board this boat were probably most of the apostles, although none of them are mentioned specifically by name. John was probably on board, who wrote the fourth gospel, three letters to the churches, and the book of The Revelation. Peter was probably on board, who by tradition provided the information for the writing of the gospel of Mark, wrote two letters to the churches, and figures prominently in the book of Acts and in the first century church.
Matthew was probably also on board the floundering boat, who wrote the first gospel. A good portion of the entire New Testament, not to mention Jesus Himself, was riding in that boat on the lake.
For Peter and Andrew, and James and John, who were all fishermen by trade, to awaken Jesus and to say they were on the verge of perishing…meant that the storm was serious. To the apostles the moment was desperate.
The solution that Jesus brings to this otherwise life-and-death situation is not on the list of normal responses to save a boat that is floundering at sea. We do not know what the apostles had in mind for Jesus to do during this crisis, but it probably fell somewhere within the realm of solid advice on how to reach land while working together as a team bailing water out of the boat. The idea that Jesus would stand up in the boat and rebuke the wind and the waves to produce an almost instant calm was a solution to the problem that was way above and beyond the possible options the apostles might have possibly imagined.
The story of the man who had the legion of demons cast out can certainly be described as desperate. He lived as a naked madman amongst rocks and caves, and when the demons were cast out of him by Jesus they entered into a herd of swine that ran headlong over a cliff into the sea and drowned.
This situation is so far beyond the human ability to resolve in terms of counseling or psychology, that even today we must marvel at the outcome of this man sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind. This story seems commonplace for Jesus, only because it is mixed in among so many other miracles, healings, and deliverances Jesus performed.
The woman who was healed by touching the border of Jesus’ garment had an issue of blood for twelve years, and had spent all of her finances on physicians without being cured. She was desperate to the point of thinking within herself that, although she could not gain personal access to Jesus amongst all of the people who crowded around Him, if she could just reach out and touch His garment as He walked by she might be healed. In this brief but wonderful story, Jesus is the last hope for this woman.
Jairus, the ruler of a synagogue, reaches the point of desperation on account of the deadly illness of his twelve year old daughter, his only child. Jairus falls at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to come to his house and heal his daughter. The situation becomes hopeless when the house servant arrives to tell Jairus that his daughter has died. But Jairus has already committed himself to include Jesus in his personal crisis, and Jesus does not abandon the situation. Jesus has the power to resolve this impossible problem, even to the point of being able to bring a young woman back from the dead.