COMPASSION IN THE FACE OF SUFFERING

“Do not fear, only believe.” – Jesus. Mark 5:36b
            Mark continues in chapter 5 where chapter 4 left off, showing Jesus’ power and command over all creation. Storms, demons, disease, and even death are not beyond the power of Jesus! In a divine preview of an age to come, Jesus is cleansing creation before the eyes and ears of Gospel writers.
            Mark is showcasing the incredible power that Jesus has to rescue and restore a suffering creation from the weight of sin (Rom. 8:21) and also highlighting Jesus’ great compassion. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ response to suffering is compassion, kindness, mercy, and sometimes even grief. The display of compassion in Mark 5 reflects the heart of God manifested fully in Jesus (John 10:30). As Christian believers, should not our lives be marked in same way when faced with suffering?
            Jesus is confronted in this chapter with three suffering individuals: A man possessed by a mob of demons, a woman suffering incurable bleeding for twelve years, and one of the most important men in town coming close to losing his little girl to sickness. Three tormented people who are suffering tremendous pain and loss (some for years), but it is only at this moment, full of compassion, our Savior chose to bring healing.
            When the tragic news of the death of Jairus’ daughter reaches Jesus, the response of those around Him is that it is too late, “Why trouble the Teacher any further” (Mark 5:36). Maybe the audience in Mark 5 thought as Mary did when Lazarus died, “Lord, if you had been here...” (John 11:32)?  We sometimes cannot help but question the Lord’s timing and response to our afflictions and sufferings of others. But a truth I see in Scripture is that God is there in our suffering. Life as a believer was never promised to be free of suffering, but of a wonderful promise to come (Phil. 3:20-21)! In the face of immense pain, we are confronted with a short and powerful statement from Jesus, “Do not fear, only believe.”
            Last fall (2020 of all years), a song title “Catch Me Singing” was released by Sean Curran. Part of the song speaks well of what we see played out in Mark 5.

I will trust You in the famine
I will bless You in the feast
When I'm standing in Your victory
When I'm on my knees
I will praise will praise You at the rising
And the setting sun
You're gonna catch me singing when the springtime comes
This story has an empty grave

            What a great reminder that our suffering can still lead to praise and our Christian story is marked by the incredible truth of “an empty grave.”
            Throughout the Bible, God has always had a purpose in suffering (2 Cor. 4:16-18) and it is in no way meaningless! If we believe that Jesus can calm storms, cast out legions of demons, heal prolonged sickness, and even reverse death, is it hard to believe He can also use our suffering for a greater purpose (1 Pet. 4:12-19)?
            As Christian believers, we are called to be like Christ, even during suffering. May we be full of compassion when others around us suffer. Let us display this in our lives, and, as the old hymn says, “Join with all nature in manifold witness/To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.” Let us follow Christ’s words as he said, “Do not fear, only believe” because His faithfulness is indeed great, and our story does in fact have an empty grave!

Further References:
Song: “Catch Me Singing” by Sean Curran (https://bit.ly/3CSX6UL)
Song: “Though You Slay Me” by Shane & Shane (https://bit.ly/2ZoDcST)
John 11:1-44
Daniel 3:17-18
James 5:10-11

by Eric Adams, Deacon

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