‘He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality.’ 2 Timothy 1:10 NLT
It’s no surprise that God has a heart for hurting parents. After all, God Himself is a father. What has parental emotion He not felt? Are you separated from your child? So was God. Is someone mistreating your child? They mocked and bullied His. Is someone taking advantage of your child? He, the Son of God, was set up by false testimony and betrayed by a greedy follower. Are you forced to watch while your child suffers? God watched His Son on the cross. Do you find yourself wanting to spare your child from all the hurt in the world? God did. But because of His great love for us, ‘He did not spare His own Son but gave Him for us all. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things.’ (Romans 8:32 NCV) Note the words ‘all things’. There’s nothing God can’t do in answer to prayer! Perhaps you’ve prayed but your child has died. No pain compares to that of losing a child. Maybe you’ve said, ‘Jesus resurrected Jairus’ child, why didn’t He save mine?’ God understands your question. He buried a child too. And He hates death more than you do. That’s why He ‘broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality.’ For those who trust Christ, death is nothing more than a transition to Heaven. Your child may not be in your arms today, but your child is safely in His. After losing his son at birth, David looked forward with hope and said, ‘I shall go to him.’ (2 Samuel 12:23 NKJV) And so will you.
‘Her spirit returned, and she arose… And her parents were astonished.’ Luke 8:55–56 NKJV
You can do your very best for your children, and still stand where Jairus stood. You can love them, protect them, and pray for them, and still find yourself in an emergency ward at midnight or a drug rehab clinic during visitor’s hours choosing between two voices: despair and belief.
Who would have faulted Jairus for giving up? When he first went to Jesus, his daughter was critically ill but still alive. Then while he was talking to Jesus, word arrived: ‘Your daughter is dead.’ (Luke 8:49 NLT) In that moment Jesus looked at Jairus and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.’ (Luke 8:50 NLT) Whether stopping the child’s sickness in its tracks, or raising her from the dead, Jesus was the answer to Jairus’ problem. And He is the answer to your family problem too. Notice two things Jesus did:
(1) He dismissed those who mourned, but had no faith (see Luke 8:51). Be careful who you let get close to you, especially in times of crisis.
(2) He united the parents in faith. ‘When Jesus went to the house, He let only Peter, John, James, and the girl’s father and mother go inside with Him.’ (Luke 8:51 NCV) At that point He ‘took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately… And her parents were astonished.’ (Luke 8:54–56 NKJV) When you pray and put your faith in Christ, He can do things in your family that will amaze you!
‘Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.’ Lamentations 2:19 NKJV
The story of Jairus is the story of a pleading parent and an ever-present Saviour. So, ‘Pour out your heart…before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands towards Him for the life of your young children.’ Parent, you can do this. You can be a loyal advocate and a faithful intercessor. You can bring your parenting fears to Jesus. In fact, if you don’t, you might take your fears out on your children. Fear turns some parents into prison guards who monitor every minute and check the background of every friend. They stifle growth and communicate distrust. A family with no breathing room suffocates a child. On the other hand, fear can also create permissive parents. For fear that their child will feel too confined or fenced in, they lower all boundaries. High on hugs and low on discipline, they don’t realise that appropriate discipline is an expression of love.
Permissive parents or paranoid parents—how can you avoid those extremes? Pray! Jesus said so little about parenting, yet His actions speak volumes about prayer. Each time a parent prays, Christ responds. The big message in this story is: when your child is in crisis, turn to Jesus. But don’t wait for a crisis to come. When you send them off to school each day, do so with a blessing. When you tell them good night, cover them in prayer. When they’re stumped by a homework assignment they can’t handle, pray with them about it. Pray that your children will have a profound sense of their place in this world, and a heavenly place in the next one.
‘Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet.’ Luke 8:41 NLT
Jairus enjoyed the social status of a mayor or bishop. But when your child is in a crisis, all the celebrity status in the world won’t help you. And Jairus wasn’t the only parent to run to Jesus when trouble came knocking on the door of their home. A mother hurried into a Canaanite town, crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.’ (Matthew 15:22 NLT) The father of a seizure-tormented boy also sought help from the disciples. When they failed to provide it, he turned to Jesus. In tears, he said, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24 NKJV) In each case Jesus responded. He never turned one away. And He won’t turn you away either! After all, your kids were His kids first. The psalmist said, ‘Children are a gift from the Lord…’ (Psalm 127:3 NLT) Next to the gift of salvation, your children are ‘God’s best gift’ to you. And even though they are yours, they are still His. And what He owns, He protects and provides for. Like the Prodigal Son, they may have broken every one of God’s laws and broken your heart. But your prayers are what give God an invitation and an entry point back into their lives. The love of the father that drew the Prodigal back home, will bring your wayward child back too. What Jesus said to Jairus, He is saying to you today: ‘Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and [he] she will be healed.’(Luke 8:50 NLT)
‘You saw me before I was born.’ Psalm 139:16 NLT
The psalmist wrote: ‘You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.’ (Psalm 139:16–17 NLT) If you want to know God’s will for your life, pray this prayer: ‘Lord, You knew me completely before I was born, and You shaped me and destined me for a purpose. Give me a clear vision of all You want to do inand through my life. I desperately need to understand what the “hope of my calling” (Ephesians 4:4 NLT) is, and “the exceeding greatness of His power” (Ephesians 1:19 NKJV) to enable me to fulfil Your purpose (see 2 Corinthians 9:14). Show me the gifts You have put in me, and how I can develop and use them for Your glory (see Romans 12:6). Help me to think big and pray with boldness (see Ephesians 3:20). I want to be open and available for whatever You have for me, and not miss Your blessings by being unprepared to receive them. Help me not to hold on to things or relationships that are not of You. I want to do Your will with my whole heart (see Psalm 40:8). Only You know what and who is right for me. Help me to hear Your voice, and give me the grace and courage to follow Your leading when I am afraid (see John 10:4). May the desires of Your heart become the desires of my heart. Enlarge my capacity to believe that You can take what I have and multiply it beyond what I can imagine. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.’
‘You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.’ Psalm 32:7 NIV
Have you ever fantasized about running away from all the stresses of today’s high-tech world? Surely there’s a place somewhere on the globe where the pace is slower and the living is easy. That dream motivated a family in 1940 to move to an island called Guadalcanal in the Coral Sea. But two years later war broke out in the Pacific, and the couple found themselves witnessing a battle—in their front yard. Obviously, they had chosen the wrong place. Where can you go to escape the noise and hubbub of city life? How about a small island in the Caribbean called Grand Cayman? Vacationers to this resort say it is the closest thing to paradise on earth. The residents there pay no taxes. The water around them is calm and warm, and there are orchids growing everywhere. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there’s a catch. Medical studies revealed that the two major ailments suffered by the citizens of Grand Cayman are hypertension and anxiety neurosis. Life on a tropical beach is not always what it appears to be.
Could it be that the stresses and pressures with which we struggle, actually come from within? Yes. And they will plague us no matter where we live until we learn to deal with circumstances as they are. Here’s how the psalmist did it: ‘You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.’(Psalm 32:7–8 NIV)
‘And, behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah.’ Genesis 26:8 NASB
Back in the days when wooden ships depended on the wind to drive them, sailors had much to be concerned about: pirates, storms, and diseases. But often their greatest fear was ‘the doldrums’—an area near the equator characterised by calm and very light shifting winds. It could mean the death of the entire crew. The ship’s food and water supply would be depleted as they drifted for days, or even weeks, waiting for a breeze to put them back on course. We talk about something ‘taking the wind out of our sails’, meaning we’ve lost our momentum and we need something to get us back on course again. Your marriage doesn’t lose its momentum overnight, but over months and years of insensitivity and neglect. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. Author Doug Fields in his book, Creative Romance, writes: ‘Romancing your spouse can change those patterns, and it can be a lot of fun. There’s no quick fix to a stagnant marriage, of course, but you can lay aside the excuses and begin to date your sweetheart again.’ God brought this charge against the church at Ephesus: ‘You have left your first love.’ (Revelation 2:4 NKJV) Then He told them how to remedy it: ‘Repent and do the first works.’ (Revelation 2:5 NKJV) Fearing King Abimelech would kill him and take his wife Rebekah, Isaac lied and said she was his sister. What gave him away? King Abimelech looked out a window, and, ‘Behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah.’ Romance saved his life and his marriage, and it can do the same for yours.
‘But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV
What seems like a setback is often a setup for a comeback! There’s no greater illustration of this than Good Friday. On the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, it seemed all was lost. But it’s not over until God says it’s over! The greatest spiritual victory in history was won on the heels of its seemingly greatest defeat. All was lost, but not for long. Three days after His crucifixion, Jesus walked out of His tomb. And as a redeemed child of God, that same power lives in you today. ‘If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.’ (Romans 8:11 NKJV) In God’s Kingdom failure is never final. Not if you believe in the resurrection! You won’t win every spiritual battle, but the war has been decisively won. The victory was sealed two thousand years ago when Jesus broke the seal of His tomb. It was the death blow to death itself. Paul writes, ‘Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.’ (Romans 8:37 NKJV) Today you are more than a conqueror (in all these things) because of what Christ accomplished for you. Yes, you’ll experience setbacks. But remember this: without a crucifixion there can be no resurrection. So when you have a setback, don’t take a step back, because God is preparing your comeback.
‘The Lord gave him success in everything he did.’ Genesis 39:3 NIV
The second credential you need when it comes to getting people to listen to you is: success. Credibility doesn’t come from knowledge alone; it comes from results. When people want to succeed, they seek advice from those who have actually accomplished something. When you’re successful, there will always be those who want to listen to you. And if you have a proven track record in an area where they want to succeed, your credibility goes through the roof. So what does it take to be a success? Many different things. Here are a few:
(1) Habits. Everybody wants to succeed, but few are willing to pay the price. You don’t determine your future; you determine your habits and your habits determine your future. The secret lies in your daily routine. To succeed you must make a habit of doing what those who are unsuccessful don’t do.
(2) Opportunity. A successful person makes hay from the grass that grows under the other person’s feet! They don’t restrict their efforts to the hours when the sun shines. They recognise that success takes aspiration, inspiration, and perspiration.
(3) Persistence. Success means getting back up each time you fall. Scientist and inventor Louis Pasteur said, ‘Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.’
(4) God. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I believe the will of God prevails; without Him all human reliance is vain; without the assistance of that divine being I cannot succeed; with that assistance I cannot fail.’ God gave Joseph ‘success in everything he did,’ and He wants to do the same for you!
‘The common people heard Him gladly.’ Mark 12:37 NKJV
The Bible says concerning Jesus: ‘The common people heard Him gladly.’Why? Because His words were backed by these all-important things: His character, His conduct, and His concern for others. In short, Jesus earned the right to speak. Have you? Getting people to listen to calls for insight. When what you say truly helps somebody, you form a connection. Benjamin Franklin, one of the most admired figures in American history and known for his homespun wisdom, had a remarkable career. Interestingly, he had little formal education. He attended school for only two years, yet he was highly respected because of his knowledge and keen insight. A voracious reader and an intellectually curious man, he became an expert in a remarkable number of areas: printing and publishing, politics, civic activism, the sciences, and diplomacy. He was an innovative inventor who secured the support of France during the Revolutionary War, founded the first public library in America, served as the first president of the American Philosophical Society, and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Biographer Walter Isaacson called Franklin ‘the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.’ People felt a sense of connection when Franklin shared his wisdom. Here’s how this applies to you. When you love people, work hard, study, develop and share your expertise in a given area, they will learn to respect and listen to you. And when it comes to listening, you don’t get what you demand, you get what you earn.