St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
Do Not Despair

Luke 8:41-56

Do not despair.  Almost everyone at some time or another in their lives finds themselves in an impossible situation.  A situation where there doesn’t seem to be any way out, any solution, any constructive course of action.   It is at these moments that we are tempted with despair, we are tempted to give up all hope and to embrace hopelessness.  In such a state, one falls easily into depression, even sometimes into the contemplation of suicide.  Sometimes one is led into desperate acts which have their own consequences that lead only deeper into despair.  In the world, the only remedy for such a situation is an unexpected and completely uncontrolled turn of events, which only emphasizes the personal helplessness of the individual.

For those of us, however, who place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ and who have placed our whole selves into His hands, such “helplessness” cannot overwhelm us.  Certainly we find ourselves in difficult situations, sometimes we suffer greatly, perhaps without apparent cause.  Sometimes we may face the total loss of all that we have, even our lives.  But no matter how severe our situation may become, we have only to look upon the source of our hope, our Lord Jesus Christ, and knowing that He is indeed all knowing, all powerful and that He loves each of us with His divine love, then we do not fall into the hopelessness of despair.  We know that the One Who formed us, the One Who gives to us life and all that we need in this life, the One Who has made the world and all that is in it, continues to hold us in His hands and in His care.  This is our faith, that God loves us and that by His all-knowing providence will take care of us. 

We live by this faith, and that means that we act on faith.  When God sent the prophet Moses to the Egyptian Pharaoh to demand the release of the Hebrew people, He warned Moses that Pharaoh would not listen and that his heart would be hardened.  But God said to Moses, “Then you will see what I will do.”  Even though the Pharaoh represented the ultimate in worldly power, his power was nothing compared that of God.  Indeed God did act and sent plagues upon the land of Egypt which served to emphasize His greatness and finally resulted in the release of the Hebrew people.  All Moses had to do was to act according to the commandment of God and then wait to “see what God will do.”

In the Gospel today we see two more examples of people who found themselves in similarly hopeless situations.  First was the woman afflicted with a chronic hemorrhage. Her continual bleeding rendered her unclean and therefore an outcast from society.  She had tried every possible remedy, even spending all that she had on physicians and healers.  But no one could help.  She was in a helpless situation, but she did not lose hope.  She held onto her hope in God and when she heard of this new Teacher Who spoke of the Kingdom of God and Who healed the sick, she saw the hope of God’s intervention.  She had faith and she acted on that faith, seeking out Jesus and reaching out to touch even just the hem of His garment, knowing that through Him, God would provide healing for her.

And so it was, as soon as she touched Jesus’ garment, she was healed and the flow of blood stopped.  Although she had acted in secret, her action was revealed by Jesus Himself Who, when she confessed to Him her action and proclaimed the healing that had resulted, said to her, “your faith has made you whole.”  She had faith in God and she acted on that faith; her hope in God’s mercy was not in vain, but He fulfilled her need and healed her.

The second person in the Gospel was likewise in a desperate situation.  Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue came to Jesus seeking healing for his daughter who was grievously ill – dying in fact.  As Jesus was coming with him to the house, news arrived that the child had died.  Here was something to test even the strongest faith, the child had died and so gone out of reach of any worldly help.  But Jesus said to the father, “Fear not, believe only, she will be made whole.”  What a demand on Jairus’ faith, for Jesus claimed now even to be able to overcome death.  Strengthened by the witnessing the healing of the woman with an issue of blood, Jairus was able to hold onto his faith, placing all of his hope in Jesus Christ.  And so they arrived at the house.  When the people heard that Jesus would heal her, they all began to laugh at such a notion and ridiculed Jesus and the girl’s father.  But the father’s faith remained firm and Jesus put everyone out of the room except the girl’s father and his disciples.  Taking the girl by the hand he called out to her to arise from her bed, and she immediately arose and was whole.  Jairus had placed his faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He acted on that faith and as a result was able to see what God would do.

We all will find ourselves in situations that seem to be hopeless, that threaten to overwhelm us, that fill us with a sense of complete helplessness.  But we are Christians, we no longer place our hope on ourselves, or on the wisdom and resources of the world.  Our hope is in the Lord our God Who has made heaven and earth.  Therefore we need only to stand firm in our faith in God’s love and providence, to act on our faith and live according to His commandments and to place all our hope constantly on Him alone.  Then with Moses, God will say to us, “Then you will see what I will do.”  When we reach out with the hands of faith to touch Him, we will hear as did the woman, “Your faith has healed you.”  When we face trials that seem insurmountable then we only need to heed the words of Christ to Jairus, “Fear not, believe only…” and He will overcome the world.

This is what it means to live by faith, to place all your hope in God. When you trust Him, then youas know that there is no situation in this world, in this life, that is beyond His power to resolve.  When you have faith and act according to that faith, He will pour out His grace and love upon you and provide abundantly for every need.  No matter what kind of situation you might face, remember that you are in the hands of a loving and merciful God.  He loves you and will not fail you; He will give you the strength to overcome every difficulty. All you need to do is to fear not and believe, waiting with trust in God and see what He will do; depend on Him and not on yourself.  Our God has the power to take even the greatest sin and turn it into the means of our salvation.  Do not despair: God loves you and will do everything to bring you to Himself – all that you need to do is to have faith in Him and act on that faith and He will bring you into His Kingdom.