“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8
I heard this week that the last time our planet saw an impact as far reaching and wide spread as the coronavirus was during the flood (think Noah). During the last 6 months, people of every nationality, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, royalty and commoner, superstar, celebrity and the girl next door, everyone has been affected in some way by the coronavirus.
You’ve probably seen loved ones serenading their elderly parents outside the windows of their assisted living facilities. Or maybe you’ve watched a wedding online rather than celebrating with your family. Perhaps your birthday this year was spent on your front porch watching your dearest friends drive by. For seniors graduating from high school or college, this momentous year has looked vastly different than they could ever have imagined.
As I read the story in Matthew 8 of the faith of the centurion, my mind went immediately to those families who have loved ones in the hospital and aren’t able to be with them. This is how the story goes. There is a Roman military official who has a pretty high ranking. He has soldiers under his authority, but is also under the authority of his superiors. He has a servant at his house who is “paralyzed, suffering terribly,” and goes to Jesus to ask for help.
Now Jesus had already begun his ministry and had been healing those who came to him. (In the verses before this passage he had healed a man with leprosy.) Jesus asked the soldier, “Do you want me to come with you to your house and heal your servant?” What’s happens next is what speaks volumes to me today. Humbly, the centurion replied to Jesus that he didn’t deserve to have him come to his house. But, he recognized the power and ability that Jesus had. He knew that Jesus had authority not only over his servant’s illness, but every aspect of his life and even his death. All Jesus had to do was say the word and the centurion knew his servant would be healed.
The centurion’s faith was in the goodness, authority and Providence of an all-powerful and all-knowing God who is not hindered by social distancing, disease, or despair.
It was this kind of faith we see stated again in question one of the Heidelberg Catechism, compiled in 1563.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
If you are like me, many times my faith fails me. Jesus never fails, just my faith. I feel like I don’t have the kind of faith the centurion had or even the kind that believes that not a hair can fall from my head outside the will of my heavenly Father. I am prone to second guess my own actions, shortcomings and disbelief and begin to put more faith in what I think I should have done or could do to change the circumstances of a situation rather than simply trusting in the Providence of my loving Father.
There is, however, a special place that I go when I need a reminder and reassurance that the same powerful hands that made the universe are also holding me tight. Step out into the summer night and look up at the stars which God has made; majestic, breath-taking, awe-inspiring, comforting. Since I was a little girl I have always loved worshiping God under a clear starry night.
Because she says it so well I want to share with you the words of Charlotte Bronte in her novel, Jane Eyre.
We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest of scale spread before us; and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence. I had risen to my knees to pray for Mr. Rochester. Looking up, I, with tear-dimmed eyes saw the mighty Milky-Way. Remembering what it was – what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of light – I felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made; convinced I grew that neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured. I turned my prayer to thanksgiving; the Source of Life was also the Saviour of spirits. Mr. Rochester was safe; he was God’s, and by God he would be guarded.
If ancient doctrine and classic literature aren’t your thing, fast forward to current day and listen to the words of Lauren Daigle’s song, “Look Up, Child.”
The light of a million stars awakens the heart to a Creator who cares deeply for His creation. Psalm 8 says, when I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Maybe faith is about humbly acknowledging like the centurion, that we are not worthy yet God is good, He is love, and He cares for us. I’m not so sure that faith is believing that Jesus will heal all who are sick in the way that we want to see them healed, but perhaps it is simply believing that Jesus is the healer, the one who makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, and His way is best. Maybe faith is more about surrendering to His Lordship, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
May your spirit and faith be buoyed by those who’ve gone before us turning to the Lord in faith, seeking comfort, and trusting in His Providential care.