Problems. Everyone has them. We can not get away from them. It is wonderful to know that one day we will be free from them. For now though, how can we effectively deal with problems? Recently I noticed a number of things about the sixth miracle of our Lord that brought before me how the Lord dealt with problems.
The sixth miracle is the one that involves the raising of Peter’s mother-in-law from a great fever. This miracle is recorded by Matthew (8:14-15), Mark (1:29-31), and Luke (4:38-39).
Take a few minutes and read the above portions over a few times in order to get the sense of all that is going on. Notice from the pen of Mark, that this event takes place somewhere between noon and suppertime. Think of the heat being at its highest during this part of the day. Notice the events of the morning in the synagogue of Capernaum: a demon is cast out. The word for “fever”’ that is used by Luke, the doctor, is a “great” fever or a fever that is unto death. Think of the tension that Peter, his wife, family, and friends must have been under because of this sickness! Bring together the lack of sleep and the mental and physical exhaustion that wears a person down as the trial carries on with no end in sight!
We have a big problem here. How is a person to handle all of this? Let us view with worshiping hearts how the Lord handles this situation. As we consider the Lord here, an expression of the day comes to mind, “poetry in motion.”
There are 10 events that the Lord performs that teach me how to deal with difficulties.
1. “When Jesus was come” (Matt 8:14)
2. “He saw” (Matt 8:14)
3. “They tell Him of her” (Mark 1:30)
4. “They besought Him for her” Luke 4:38
5. “and He came (near)” Mark 1:31
6. “He stood over her” Luke 4:39
7. “He touched her hand” Matt 8:15
8. “took (holding) her by the hand” Mark 1:31
9. “rebuked the fever” Luke 4:39
10. “lifted her up” Mark 1:31
A little side note before we begin. Why is it that when we are in a trial we think that the Lord has somehow left us? God help us to confess our sin and remember the beautiful words of Psalm 73:23, “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand.”
Let us look at each of these points and see what we can learn from the Master.
Look carefully at points 1 and 2. What do you notice? He has not said a word! Why are we so quick to give our opinions, ideas, and solutions to problems before we really know what is actually happening? Notice the careful gazing of His eyes as He studies the situation. Those eyes are full of concern, compassion and a desire to help! This is what we need before we even attempt to help someone.
Look carefully at points 3 and 4. He is actually allowing them to unload, to unburden their hearts. He is still not talking! How often do we talk when we should be listening? Notice the attentiveness of His ears. How graciously He listens to us, how willing He is to listen to us! Notice, they first tell Him about her and then they begin to beseech Him for her. They are begging for Him to help, yet how careful He is to act. Why is it, that the minute someone tells us about a problem, we immediately smother him or her with answers before we know all the facts?
Look carefully at points 5 and 6. He has not made a conclusion yet! He has seen and heard all about the problem; now He draws near to see if the two line up. We need to watch as He moves across the room to the side of the bed. Slowly He begins to lean over her just like a doctor would. Only Luke the physician tell us, “He stood over her.” Take note of His posture; it is non-threatening and non-judgmental. Often, as someone is telling us about their troubles we stand there with our arms folded with an “I told you so” attitude. How unlike our blessed Lord!
Look carefully at points 7 and 8. “He touched her hand,” speaks of His gentleness; then “He took hold of her hand,” which speaks of His firmness. Why is it, that when we are dealing with problems we are often either too soft or too hard? We need to learn from our Lord, as we view His hands, to be balanced in our approach to problems. Oh, that we would spend more time learning from Christ how we ought to behave!
Lastly, look carefully at points 9 and 10. After all that has followed, He is ready to correct the problem. How perfectly tempered and balanced His correction is! How easily His correction is taken! Sometimes we can correct a brother or sister and hammer them so far into the ground that they can not even stand up. Not so with the Lord! “He lifted her up.” What do we read next? “And (she) ministered unto them.” Why is it that we are so quick to offer correction but not very quick to encourage? Why do the words “I enjoyed your prayer, message, or thought” get caught in our throats? Is it not sad that we have no problem getting negative words out if someone quotes a verse wrong or says one thing out of place when praying? The words of John 21 come to mind when the Lord was instructing Peter on how to look after His sheep. The Lord tells Peter in verse 15 “feed” (encourage), verse 16 “shepherd” (guide and correct) and verse 17 “feed” (encourage). This is twice as much encouragement as correction. Why is it that we correct, feed, and correct some more? May we learn from the Lord that correction given by someone who never encourages is very hard to take and often not taken at all!