Not So Empty Nest Days

Cherishing the days past while moving towards the days ahead, BHG

Dead Situations

Dead Situations Luke 7:11-17
  Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
What’s YOUR “dead man?”
– Jesus went to a town called Nain, which was a city within Galilee. With him was his disciples and a large crowd (on-lookers as well as those who genuinely wanted healing from him.). Verse 12 says AS he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out. This dead person was the only son of a woman who had already tasted loss through her husband’s passing. She was a widow. Put yourself in her shoes for just a moment. She now has no husband and as a custom in those times was subject to volunteers who heeded to the command of serving widows and orphans. She did have hope though because her son was a young man about to make his presence in the working world, if he already was not working and gaining respect in the town. Her husband’s name was going to be carried on because her son could marry and have children. Now think of the dreams of this single parent for her only child. She probably dreamt of him being successful, marrying (if he already wasn’t), to have loads of grandkids because of him and of course take care of her. He was going to save her from her situation! Then all of a sudden, death takes him! How many of US (not God) have had a plan, we could smell it, we could see it coming to pass and then some form of death takes it? When will we remember that God knows the plans HE has for US (Jeremiah 29:11, emphasis mine)? 

– Now as was customary, she also had a large crowd with her. This crowd was probably included family, friends and even those who just liked the dramatic effects of the mourning process (professional mourners), you know the ones who will be with you when you are down and out? The same ones who are nowhere around when you are “lifted up out of the miry clay” (Psalms 40:2) but are the first ones around whenever you fail? I’m sure there were people asking her “what will you do now? He was your only hope.” Or “what’s going to happen to you after this?” There were more than likely those telling her “well you could just beg. State assistance is there for you.” Even, as if she is not already down, saying “just give up. Your life is not going to get better. You must’ve sinned somehow for all this to happen to you.” Hmm.. do we remember Job’s friends, or Job’s wife? What about David’s wife? It’s funny how people rally around you just to see you down because they don’t feel good about their situations!

– This next verse amazes me. “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘don’t cry.’” Can you imagine?! His large crowd behind him, her large crowd suffocating her, but he SEES her. Out of all the people crying ad carrying on, he sees her! Now I know that it was customary for everyone to wail, even the parents, but I get a different picture of this mom. Let me draw the mental picture for you. She has already lost a lot. She lost her husband who was her primary means of support, probably lost weight from dealing with his death, and of course her voice in the community because women were not heard back then. Now the second blow has to numb her. While she is walking with this funeral procession, the deafening wails which are probably drowned out by her thoughts. All at once, her dreams for her son are gone with him in that casket. That box which carries her flesh, her dreams , her escape. She won’t be able to go on! She has nothing left, just as her “friends” were telling her! She can’t cry because there is nothing inside of her! She is empty. Notice that she is at the very place we must be for Christ to fill us! And just as she is being led, because standing and walking on her own are out of the question, “he sees her.” She stands out, not because of her outer appearance or how loud she is crying, but because of how empty she is on the inside. There is completely nothing left. He is drawn to her inner heartache and emptiness, just as he is drawn to that in us today. He has been there. God has sensed loss, Jesus has felt pain and anguish when he did nothing to deserve it. What’s even better is he doesn’t approach her and just give his condolences, or say you poor woman. She doesn’t run up to him and demand that he bring her son back to her. She can’t. She doesn’t even see him because her numbness has closed her eyes. I wonder did she even know Who she was about to pass by. Umm.. his grace is certainly sufficient! No he does not pass her by, he simply tells her “don’t cry.” Period! Not “don’t cry, I will help” or don’t cry, he’s better off,” something many of us say in our answers to those who have lost. He says, “don’t cry.”

– He then walks over to the coffin, the physical focal point of her pain, where her dead issue lies. The very box that contained her source of help, her dreams, her plans for the future, how many have put God in that very box? He touched it and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” At this point, the crowds have to be intensely looking at what will happen. Some in disbelief that he would be so bold, some in anger that he would interrupt their wailing and some even holding their breath waiting for something, anything to happen. I only wonder what was going through that mother’s mind at that time. Was she still so numb to the miracle that was happening in front of her? Did she have a flicker of hope before he spoke to her, or after he spoke to the coffin? Did she even look up from her despair? Some of us do this very thing when we are so caught up in the despair that we miss seeing the miracle that could change our perspective. We only hold on to the “what happens” and miss the “how it happens.”

– At this very point when he speaks this to the coffin, the young man sits up. Not only did he sit up but he began to talk. Okay, push pause here. I notice at this point that whenever someone is dead in Jesus’ ministry time, two things that take place. 1. He speaks (out loud) to them and 2. they obey WITH an action. He told the synagogue ruler’s daughter to rise (Luke 8:54). He told Lazarus to come out in a loud voice ( John 11:43) and this young man he told to get up. Each of them did not just do as he said but with an action. You see, when someone dies, there is still air captured in the body. At a certain time, that air escapes; causing the dead body (notice I did not say person) to make a sudden movement. Whether it’s a jerk, the body sitting up really quick or even taking one last “breath.” Because God knows all and already knew the skeptics that would debunk these miracles because of this, Christ made it so that the resurrections would not be refuted. Now tell me my God doesn’t know all! For what dead person starts talking or walking around?? Case in point, Jesus speaks and the dead obey. We are to imitate Christ. We speak in His name and the dead obey! Whoo!! Okay, un-pause.

– Jesus then gives this young man back to his mother. This is an awesome display of unselfishness by God. He could have told the young man to follow him. I suspect the young man would have too! But where would that have left his mother? Still numb, still disbelieving, still broke and disgusted with her life. He not only wants this man to serve and tell of the mercy he was granted but his mother too. Think of the bitterness she might have experienced if it had gone any other way. She would have been walking around muttering and possibly cursing God. “He could’ve left him in the box for all that! Who told him to come interfere? I’m still in the same position as before! I don’t want to know this God!” Can you imagine and hear the hurt turned to disgust in those words? God is a God of a lot of things, but pain and inequality is not one of them. His love spreads to the ends of the earth. Reaching men as well as women. He wanted the mother as much as He wanted the son. To do this he brought back the son and gave him to his mother. They were both saved! In this he would know who saved his life and she would know who her real Savior is. No one around them could’ve done that. No one knew the plans she had made. You see God knows the plans of our hearts. He knew what future she was hoping for in her son just as He wants us to have hope in the future we have in His Son. What this narration tells me is that my God is compassionate! He does look out for His children while getting His glory! Aw shucks, my God is a multi-tasking God! Watch this! While Jesus saved this woman’s livelihood BY giving her back her dreams and future through her son, he also showed her Who her real Savior is, not her son, his success, her daughter-in-law bearing children. Nothing could save her but Jesus! He also gave God glory in the last two verses (v 16-17). Remember the crowds? His and hers crowds. Verse 16 says, “They were ALL filled with awe and praised God.” They then went and spread “this news” (v 17) all around about Jesus. A 3 in 1 score! That is just like God to do above and exceeding what we can ever ask for! Here’s a news flash: it works when it’s something painful in our lives as well. Let’s do the “what if” game, shall we? What if Jesus had decided to take another route or spend some more time in Capernaum? What if she had other kids or other means of support? What if her husband had not died? No, all of her pain and loss that was felt in however many years, months or days between the death of her husband and son all “worked together for her good.” I love it!

– Do you have a “dead man” in your life? The dead man in this Scripture could be anything dead; your marriage, your ministry, your finances, your dead end j-o-b, your joy, your dreams, etc. What’s dead in your life? What has you so empty that you too, could just roll in a ball and just die? What dreams or plans have died in your arms? Do you know that we serve a God who is able? Not only is He able but He is willing! Jesus could have easily kept walking past the funeral procession, past the mourners, and past the empty woman. Instead he went to her. He met her where she was. In all her pain (losing her husband and son), worry (who was going to take care of her now) and emptiness, HE..met..her! The same can be said of you. When your situation is dead; your marriage, your car, your finances, your job search, your job itself, your womb, your wayward children or spouse; He will see straight into you and have compassion and meet you.

– But He won’t stop there! He won’t just tell you “don’t cry” and then leave. He could and be justified in doing so. But he won’t because He loves AND cares for us. For this reason He will speak on our behalf. Both Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 say whatever we (us, you and I) bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. In other words while we are coming “boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) and speaking to our situations, there is One who is interceding and speaking in heaven for us. Now understand, without God we just look like a fool speaking to inanimate objects, but “with God, nothing is impossible.” Wow! Tell your situation to get up! Don’t just talk to your husband or kids! Speak to the situation! Don’t just ask God to bless your finances or job, speak life into them! God told Ezekiel to speak to dry, dead dusty bones. The result of, not Ezekiel speaking, but his faith and obedience, was an army standing at attention in front of him (Ezekiel 37:10)! James 1 tells us that if we ask without doubt we will receive. There are two things you need to act as Christ did with the widow in Luke 7, faith and obedience. One without the other will NOT succeed. You will not obey without faith and you cannot have faith yet not obey.

– It starts today even for me! Obey what is told to us speak to that dead situation and as you do so with His authority, in His name, He will be binding or loosing whatever it is and in effect speaking to that situation in Heaven. As we tell our situation “get up” so does He. Take heart, dear one. He is with us in whatever we go through. Sometimes our loss, as much as it hurts, brings about our biggest victory. He is a just and loving God. Our pain is not in vain! Take the authority He has given us, speak to your situation in the His name and know that He will provide. Just remember, He works on His time, not ours. But He does work. 24/7, “even in the midnight hour”. “Don’t cry.” Only believe, speak and watch his blessings manifest! Be blessed!

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