Easy answers don’t work when you are adrift in the sea of life.
I don’t like easy answers. Well, to be fair, it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s more that I don’t trust them. Sometimes I meet people who think God gives easy answers and it makes me wonder if perhaps they misunderstand the scope of the problem.
Regrettably, I’ve probably offered prayer and comfort in ways that made it seem like I was offering an easy answer or worse—that I wasn’t willing to wrestle with the scope of the problem. I didn’t intend to be dismissive, but my response could have been received that way.
When I offer God’s presence as a comfort to people it is because I truly believe God walks with us in good times and in bad. I don’t think God is a magician who will pull the illusion of comfort out of a hat like a rabbit. I think God brings us real comfort and, in my experience, that isn’t something that can happen in the snap of a finger. (For one thing, I think we’re too stubborn to receive it that way.)
Sometimes when we read the Bible it might seem like Jesus is giving an easy answer when he heals someone. As we read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we meet people who have a problem. Jesus comes to town and, voilá, he solves the problem. Because we are introduced to the problem and the solution within a few verses of each other, it seems like Jesus provides an easy answer or a quick solution.
There’s more to Jesus than easy answers and quick solutions.
What we don’t always see is that the physical healing is just the beginning of the solution.
For example, there was a man who was tormented by a Legion of demons (Luke 8:26-39). Jesus orders the demons out of the man and, after a brief conversation, he casts the demons from the man and into a herd of pigs. The pigs then run into the nearby lake and drown themselves. When the story pivots back to the man, he is healed and sitting peacefully at the feet of Jesus (Luke 8:35).
In the course of a few verses, the man goes from being adrift in a sea of internal demons, to sitting calmly at the feet of God, ready to receive.
Once the demons left the man and he no longer felt adrift but could feel the solid ground beneath his feet, he made a request of Jesus.
And Jesus said no.
In fact, the man didn’t just ask, he begged (Luke 8:38). He begged to go with Jesus, to follow Jesus as a disciple. And Jesus said no.
Instead, Jesus told the man to do the harder thing. He told the man to return home and declare what God had done for him.
Going home couldn’t have been easy for this man. His family, friends, and neighbors defined him by his affliction. They tried to chain him up, for their protection as much as for his. When that didn’t work, they just avoided him altogether. He was completely cut off from human contact until Jesus came to town. It might seem like the hard work was done once the demons drowned, but actually, the man still had some hard work to do.
After being made whole, the man learned there was more to Jesus than easy answers and quick solutions.
The truth is, we all sometimes feel like we are adrift in the sea of life. It is also true that Jesus wants to rescue us. But that doesn’t mean that Jesus rescues us with easy answers.
Instead, Jesus rescues us by floating with us until we are ready to be rescued. Then he gives us a hand up by deepening our emotional reserves and steadying our internal compass so we go in the right direction.
Jesus didn’t let the man come with him, but I have no doubt that Jesus went home with the man in Spirit. The physical healing was just the beginning of the solution. Jesus understood the scope of the problem and set out to solve the whole thing. He didn’t stop with the easy answer.
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