• 18 December 2023

Chapter 13 – The Touch of Life

Where do we go for help with fear, suffering and death? The Lord. And what is He like? This is an important point. The better you know someone, the more you are likely to trust them – assuming, that is, that they are of good character.

This small story is one of my favourites for sharing the gospel. We see, first of all, that Jesus meets us at just the right time in our grief and sorrow. Jesus starts the long walk from Capernaum to Nain (about 25 miles) when this young boy is still alive. Perhaps his disciples were puzzled. Why go to that small, out of the way, place? They don’t know, but He does. He has an appointment with a grieving widow. She doesn’t know who He is, but He knows all about her.

It is the same with us. However utterly insignificant we are. Yet the maker of the universe makes a beeline for us in our suffering. Our eyes may be filled with tears and we can’t think of any help, but He is right in front, waiting for us.

We see how perfect God’s timing is. A few minutes either way and the two groups of people don’t meet. But at just the right time Jesus is there, standing in the way of death. And the people carrying the dead body stand still as they see this ordinary looking man blocking the procession on its way to dusty death.

What kind of roadblock is this man? He is full of compassion. ‘Don’t cry’ (Lk. 7:13), He says to the grieving mother, whose eyes would doubtless have been full of tears. The original Greek text speaks of Jesus’s intestines being twisted. The Lord is deeply moved by our suffering. Though we may think we are forsaken and abandoned, he meets us in our grief. And not just with words; he touches the bier and connects with the dead body. Something no normal Rabbi would do, for it made Him ritually unclean. God is not only moved, he touches us in our suffering. ‘I am with you.’

But if our God was only compassionate that would – and I say this reverently – not be enough. For he has equally a colossal life-giving power. Power over death, for at just one word the dead boy is brought back immediately to life.

What is death? Many things, but it is the separation that is the hardest. The boy comes back to life and starts talking! Jesus turns death around 180 degrees. Nain is on a hill so death is carrying off his prey downwards, but Jesus holds the keys of life and death and turns the whole thing around.

So it is with us. Death is a terrible enemy but the Lord owns it. Death will one day be carrying off our body and will also meet Jesus standing in the way. ‘Stop! He or she is mine and I am the resurrection and the life’, He will say. Death will then have to give up its captives and our bodies will be gloriously resurrected.

In our affliction let us comfort each other with the knowledge of the character of the Lord Jesus and His love for His children. Above all, we need to know and trust Him more. He meets us at just the right time. He is full of compassion and kindness and He touches us in our infirmities. He has total control over death and will raise us all gloriously.

He helped the widow of Nain 2000 years ago. He helps me today. He helps you today and He will help us tomorrow and for all eternity. Alleluia what a Saviour!

Excerpt from Hope in the face of suffering – 20 devotions for tough times by Jeremy Marshall

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