Summary: Our common faith was expressed so aptly in the words of Dame Julian of Norwich - but these words were anticipated and exceeded by far by another great woman in today's Scripture passage.
ALL IS WELL
In England’s original ‘second City’ - Norwich - there is a little church named after an all-but-forgotten Saint Julian, where worship is still conducted to this very day. Yet the church is not remembered for its patron, but for a certain 14th century recluse who lived in a tiny cell within the small premises, who is named for where she lived: Dame ‘Julian’ of Norwich.
Lady Julian is famed worldwide for her writing, and is best known for her saying:
‘All shall be well;
all shall be well:
all manner of thing shall be well.’
There is a woman in the Scripture who anticipated the faith of Lady Julian. Yet her faith goes even further, given her circumstances.
We are told that a certain great lady constrained the prophet Elisha with her hospitality - and as often as he passed her City, he would dwell in a little chamber made especially for him by her husband and herself (2 Kings 4:8-10). For this kindness, she was gifted with a son (2 Kings 4:14-17).
However, one day the child died (2 Kings 4:20).
Fear, in such circumstances, would surely tell us that all is not well? However, we are not called to live by fear, but by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Hebrews 10:38-39). Faith is akin to belief: both concepts reflecting the same Greek word.
When the ruler of the synagogue was told that his daughter was dead, Jesus said, “Fear not; only believe, and she shall be restored to you” (Luke 8:50). The words translated here as ‘only believe’ might also be rendered, ‘faith alone’ - and Jesus admires faith, wherever He finds it (cf. Matthew 8:10).
When I was at Bible College, a friend and I visited a widow in her distress. This lady, on later visits, took the attitude that it was not adequate to say, “I’m fine” - but rather, “I’m great” - willing herself to a better frame of mind. At first this seemed a little artificial, but looking back I can now see that she was expressing the same faith as the woman in our text, which Jesus was instructing the ruler of the synagogue to exercise, and which He found in the centurion.
How can anyone have such faith? We need to learn to depend upon Jesus, always, in all circumstances (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Believe the promises of the Bible (e.g. Romans 8:28; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) - and how can we not trust Him?
The sequel informs us that the child was restored to her, alive (2 Kings 4:35-37). This is the vindication, and the reward, of the woman’s faith.
Death is not the end. The Apostle Paul exhorts us not to grieve as others, who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:14). This is not escapism, but the realisation of what Lady Julian so aptly expressed, arising out of her Christian faith:
‘All shall be well…
For there is a Force of love moving through the universe
That holds us fast and will never let us go.’