Something we can all struggle with from time to time is impatience, particularly when we live very full and busy lives. We can even be impatient when we have time on our hands because we don’t want our time to be wasted by other people. I am sure you, like me, will have had experiences of trying to make direct contact with people at your mobile phone company, utility provider, or IT technical support hotline only to have your patience tested at times beyond the limit.
Imagine though if you contacted the technical support line about a problem that you had already been told had been fixed. You just weren’t in a place to listen or believe or even acknowledge that that was the case. We can get so caught up in our impatience that we can lose clarity about what the actual status of the problem is because things didn’t happen as we expected or planned and certainly not to our time scale. We can become so self-absorbed that we project our expectations onto others.
Now imagine if you can a people living under oppression. Imagine what it must be like for the people of Syria or North Korea who are living under oppressive regimes. What must hope look like to them? Would they even believe it if someone came along and said I am here to bring you freedom? They would probably find it hard to even imagine it might be possible and could even respond with some measure of hostility. Has anyone ever told you not to give them false expectations or build up false hope? The thing is when we have these experiences we can become desensitised, we can find it so difficult to embrace the truth and hope even when it stares us in the face.
I think perhaps that the Jews were like this, living as they were under the oppressive Roman regime. And today’s reading presents us with an account that is deeply tragic. People who had built up false expectations and false hope had come and gone. And then Jesus came. You get a sense of their frustration when they asked Jesus “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” When translated literally it becomes even clearer…“How long do you intend to annoy us?” So we see a people who had lost hope, a people who had become completely desensitised to the truth of the gospel and therefore unlike Jesus’ sheep they couldn’t recognise him as the Good Shepherd. Even when Jesus made an incredible statement, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand”, the people quite simply couldn’t, or chose not to, hear. And in response, the account goes on to tell us that they took up stones again to stone him.
Jesus offers something to each and every one of us that is truly incredible. He offers NEW LIFE and all that that entails. It is an ABUNDANCE of life. It overflows with love, hope, truth, freedom, security, peace, safety, belonging, provision, self esteem and purpose. We have a simple choice…do we accept it and embrace it, or do we turn our back on it? And Jesus brings that choice into brokenness, into oppression and yearns to re-sensitise us, to breathe new life into us, just as Peter did with Tabitha.
I would like to invite you to do something. If you are in a place in your life where you are tired, where you have lost hope, where you would like to rededicate yourself to God, where you would like to know more of Jesus breathing new life into you, simply say out loud or in the silence of your heart “Come, Lord Jesus”. I pray that you might know His presence, and the Holy Spirit restoring and renewing you. Amen