Summary: When all hope seems gone, believe in Jesus even if your friends despise him; believe in Jesus even if he delays his help; and believe in Jesus even in the face of death.
William Alexander, in his book, The $64 Tomato, asks the question, “If you were doomed to live the same life over and over again for eternity, would you choose the life you are living now? The question is interesting enough,” he says, “but … the point of asking it is really the unspoken, potentially devastating follow-up question. That is, if the answer is no, then why are you living the life you are living now? Stop making excuses, and do something about it.” (William Alexander, The $64 Tomato, Algonquin Books, 2007, p. 245; www.PreachingToday.com)
I like the sentiment, but what do we do when we can’t do something about it, because there is nothing else to do? What do we do when there are no other alternatives? What do we do when life seems hopeless?
Mark 5:21-24 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. (NIV)
What do you do when life seems hopeless? You do what this father did. Come to Jesus, and trust Him with your problems.
BELIEVE IN HIM.
Depend on Him, even if all your friends despise Him.
As one of the synagogue rulers, this man was responsible for the physical management of the synagogue building and the worship services. He was a respected leader in the community; but unlike the other religious leaders that wanted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6), he looked to Jesus for help when he had a need. He didn’t care what his peers thought. His little girl was dying, and Jesus was his only hope.
His desperation led him to depend on Jesus, and that’s where our desperation needs to lead us, as well. We can’t worry about what our friends think. We just need to trust Jesus if we’re going to see our lives change.
For more than 30 years, Gordon Mackenzie worked at Hallmark, eventually convincing the company to create a special title for him: "creative paradox." Along with challenging corporate normalcy at Hallmark, MacKenzie did a lot of creativity workshops for elementary schools. And those workshops led to a fascinating observation that he shares in his book Orbiting the Giant Hairball.
MacKenzie would ask the kids upfront: “How many artists are there in the room?” And he said the pattern of responses never varied.
In the first grade, the entire class waved their arms like maniacs. Every child was an artist. In the second grade, about half of the kids raised their hands. In the third grade, he'd get about 10 out of 30 kids. And by the time he got to the sixth grade, only 1 or 2 kids would tentatively and self-consciously raise their hands.
All the schools he went to seemed to be involved in “the suppression of creative genius.” They weren't doing it on purpose, but society's goal is to make us less foolish. As MacKenzie says, “From the cradle to the grave, the pressure is on: Be normal.” (Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Multnomah, 2006, p. 152; www.PreachingToday.com)
Conform. Don’t be different. You see, conformity is the name of the game in our world; but if all we do is conform to what others think and do, then we’ll never see change in our own lives or in our world.
Thomas Watson, at one time IBM’s chairman of the board, put it this way: “Strangely, the expounders of many of the great new ideas of history were frequently considered on the lunatic fringe for some or all of their lives. If one stands up and is counted, from time to time one may get knocked down. But remember this: a man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.” (Thomas J. Watson, Jr., Chairman of Board, IBM, Leadership, Vol.1, no.1; www.PreachingToday.com)
So don’t allow yourself to be flattened by conformity. Instead, depend on Christ even if none of your friends do.
John Stott talks about a trip he made to India where he heard of a little Hindu girl brought up in a strict Hindu family. Then she met some Christians, and somebody asked her what she thought a Christian was. She thought for a few moments and replied, “Well as far as I can see, a Christian is somebody who is different from everybody else.” Stott comments, “Would that it was true.” (John Stott, “Christians: Salt and Light,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 109; www.PreachingToday.com) You see…