There is a near resurrection in this passage from John’s biography of Jesus. It was a government official’s son who was near death. His distraught dad had come to Jesus pleading with him to travel to his town and heal his son, but instead Jesus said, “Go back home. Your son will live.” Indeed that was the case. The boy’s fever disappeared at the moment Jesus spoke the words.
I wish this type of happy ending were tacked on to all of life’s tragedies, but usually the laws of nature, rather than the miraculous prevails.
I am thinking about the dad’s journey back home between Cana, where he talked to Jesus and Capernaum, where he lived. It is about twenty-five miles. I suppose he walked or rode a donkey, so it was a long, slow journey. He had a lot of time to think about Jesus’ words and dream of his son being healed. He had to wonder what he would actually find when he got home. There must have been a big battle between faith and doubt, and hope and fear going on in his mind.
The walk of that father back home to his son is emblematic of the journey of our lives. We live in a place between hope and fear, faith and doubt; and we vacillate back-and-forth between the two. We know the teachings of Jesus and the hopeful message of the resurrection. Our faith is bolstered as we join in with congregational celebrations of the victory that is ours in Christ.
But the world we live in is a really harsh place, there are some bad people here, and some very bad things happen to good people. Sometimes our circumstances grind away at us until all faith and hope has dissipated. When that happens, we have a tendency to stress out, try to somehow escape reality, get pissed off, become cynical, or fall into the abyss of depression.
Nobody lives a life of faith. We all live a life of faith, and doubt. As a matter of fact, the normal immediate, reactions to the bad things in life are all negative. It’s like when you miss the nail and hit your thumb with the hammer; you throw the hammer down and swear. (Or is that just me?) It’s what happens after the crisis that is so important. Do we reaffirm our faith or say, “The Hell with it!”?
Those walks in that land in between our supposed confidence in our God and the reality of one thing falling apart after another are the most important times in our life. It’s where we make up our mind about what really matters and what we really believe.
Those walks also remind me of the time in between Good Friday when it looked like all was lost and Easter when even death had been defeated.
Originally posted April 4, 2010.