Tuesday, October 18, 2006 I was visiting Paul Zysk’s dad in the hospital. I received a message from Judy to call a Marine Staff Sergeant in Lansing. When I did, she said that Josh had been injured in Iraq but it was categorized at the lowest classification. He should call soon. The next day I was in a Bible Study at Grand Court and received the second call. His injury had been elevated to life-threatening. He had been shot by a sniper in the leg. Later we learned that it had hit his nerve & artery. He lost all his blood and the medic said if he had arrived 30 seconds later, he would have died on the scene. He had been through surgery in Balad, Iraq and transported to the military hospital in Germany. When I arrived home I had to tell Judy and we waited for a call. We contemplated booking a flight to Germany, not knowing if we would make it in time. About 3 hours later we got a call from a nurse in Germany and she said Josh was going to be okay. Then she asked if we wanted to talk to him. His voice was the best thing I have ever heard. He spent a month in Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington DC. He’s doing fine now. He came home, got married, graduated from college, and life is good.
This personal experience reminds me of a story in the Bible. In Mark 5:21-43 we read a story about a father whose 12 year old daughter is sick then actually dies. How devastating… and hopeless! But when you have Jesus, nothing is hopeless.
If you ever hit bottom in life, I want you to remember this story. If you have ever hit bottom in life, you could probably tell your own hopeless situation turned joyful. I present to you 3 truths when you hit bottom.
1. It’s going to hurt.
Jairus’ 12 year old girl was sick… and her dad was hurting. Only a father can understand the love for a 12 year old daughter. She is just short of becoming a woman, but still young enough to be his baby. From life experience, I know that there is nothing a father will not do for his daughter. Never before or never again will the relationship between father and daughter be quite the same. There is no treatment too costly no travel too distant, no plea too humiliating.
Jairus was like so many of us in our coming to Christ. It was not his love for Christ that brought hi. It was not what he could do for Christ. It was his need. It was his desperation and glimmer of hope. Despair is commonly the prelude to grace.
2. It may get worse before it gets better.
Even after Jairus made a connection with Jesus, his daughter got worse. As a matter of fact, she died. Sometimes our situation will be worse before it gets better.
Below is a humorous story about a man whose situation continued to get worse. I hope you enjoy it.
I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put ‘Poor Planning’ as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which, when weighed later, were found to weigh 240 pounds. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.
Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 pounds of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 135 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form.
Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.
At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground-and the bottom broke out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.
Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope.
3. It’s never hopeless as long as you have Jesus.
What did Jesus mean by telling him not to be afraid? The answer comes from the words that follow: Just believe, or even better: “Keep on believing.” Christ challenged Jairus not to believe him for a healing, but for a resurrection. Faith and fear pull in different directions.
As soon as Jesus reached the home, He told the mourners to stop their wailing because the girl was only asleep, and that was a declaration he made even before he had looked at her. The Lord viewed the death of a child and of a believer as no more terrifying or unnatural than sleep. Who’s afraid of sleep?
But hen Jesus says to her, Talitha, cumi / Damsel arise. Literally it means, “Little lamb, arise.” She didn’t come back to life in the sick state in which she left; she came back well, whole, and able to walk around.
When you have Jesus, you always have hope!