Links Daily Devotional

Amid the Certainties

He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? This child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. (Mark 5:39-40, NIV)

There are two ways to secure a golf game.

You can call and get a tee time, then fill the foursome with your friends. This is how it’s commonly done. Predictable and safe. No chance of being paired with “that guy.”

But it’s also common enough to walk up. You arrive at the pro shop and ask to be put with a group. Even on the busiest days at the busiest courses, there is room for singles to be added to short-handed groups. Of course, serendipity doesn’t always hand you the friendliest foursomes. And thus, many golfers would rather not play at all than play with those they do not know.

Whether you are hyper-scheduled or pretty laid back, we all like our certainties in life. At least a bit of routine is nice. “Give me my morning coffee,” many say, “and then come what may. The rest I can handle.”

But what do you do when the coffee maker goes on the fritz and you’re running too late for Starbucks? What do you do when—with a nod to Spencer Johnson—someone moves your cheese?

In Mark 9, Jesus was approached by the leader of a local synagogue whose daughter had fallen gravely ill. Would Jesus come heal his daughter? But as they progressed toward the man’s home, report came that his little girl had died.

In ancient Israel, death brought its list of prescriptions: quick preparation, quick burial, and lots of open grieving. Mourners knew their role and they set to it with vigor. Loud and enduring—this was the operative mode. It’s what was expected.

God works in such times. He allows for our practices and our routines. Until he breaks in and does the unexpected.

The tragedy is that we typically do not welcome what we do not expect. Even when the fingerprints of God are all over the surprise, we’re skeptical, slow to act, unsure whether to believe. We—like Abraham’s Sarah, like the mourners at the synagogue ruler’s house—laugh. Surely God would not upset our applecart.

The mourners around the leader’s little girl were certain she was dead. They were certain of the norms that fetched them to wail. What they were not certain of was the uncertain God, the one who would throw his weight around in a profound act of love.

Just as then, even now God is—as it has been said—as likely to afflict the comfortable as he is to comfort the afflicted. In Mark 5, he did both at once. He may do the same in your world, right in the midst of the certainties. Will you be willing to see him even then?

Jeff Hopper
June 26, 2014
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