THE POWER OF DESPERATION

 

Desperate people in the Bible have something in common. Their situation became so distasteful that they abandoned protocol. Bartimaeus sat by the roadside and begged. When he heard the commotion, he asked what it was about. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He thought, “Here’s my chance.” So he cried out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” People told him to be quiet. He was sticking out. Crowds do that; it’s never about the crowd. It’s about the one who dares to break through the crowd. He may be thinking, “Yeah, I shouldn’t be yelling. No one else is yelling. But I hate not seeing.” So he cried out louder: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus responded to his cry and healed him. I wonder if others thought, “Crum, I should have yelled.” Jesus never passed that way again!

 

What’s this about a rich guy climbing a tree? Why not call a limo? Desire gone to seed turned to passion, and he was willing to go out on a limb. It paid off. Jesus invited Himself over, and salvation came to the short man.

 

One woman with an issue of blood—for twelve years. No doctor could heal her. She was desperate, but she was also unclean. The law forbade her from touching anyone, but she broke through the crowd. Remember: it’s not about the crowd. Her desperation healed her. Jesus said, “Who touched me?” She got ready for the rebuke, but she got a blessing instead.

 

Lepers had to keep their distance—on threat of stones. But one was tired of being diseased. We are told that “a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean” (Mark 1:40, 41). His boldness touched Jesus—and Jesus touched him.

 

A man woke his friend up at midnight with a desperate need. A guest had come, and he had nothing to serve him. Middle Eastern hospitality demanded it. The neighbor gave him four clear “no’s,” but the visitor would not leave—and he got his bread, three loaves.

 

Likewise, a Canaanite mother, desperate to see her daughter delivered from a demon, received four negative responses, but she refused to leave, and Jesus marveled at her faith and healed her daughter.

 

Hardships such as these people faced turn into discouragement and giving up for most. For these it went the opposite direction to desperation. Which route do your hardships take you? The answer is on the way. Jesus made it clear that we were to pray and never give up in the story of the widow, who must have felt like quitting. Good thing she didn’t (Luke 18:1-7).

 

The prophet wrote, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication goes forth as brightness…” (Isaiah 62:1). Let us pray with that persistence for our family, church, city, state, country. God answers desperate prayer!

2 thoughts on “THE POWER OF DESPERATION

  1. You’ve hit on a topic that has gotten under my skin. I’m confused by talk about our need for desperation. Are these desperate people our model for Christian life, or is Jesus? Was Jesus ever desperate? Even in the Garden of Gesthemene we hear him asking “Is there any other way?”, but ending with “nevertheless…” My practical concern is that if we’re desperate, it becomes difficult to pray anything other than “my will be done,” and that’s never Jesus’ prayer.

    From another perspective, aren’t we supposed to be giving thanks in all circumstances? How do you reconcile thankfulness with desperation? In my personal experience. God is faithful and kind even in the midst of the most difficult trials; He always deserves thanks and praise.

    One of the examples you mention is the persistent widow. Jesus sums up the parable in verse 8 by saying “God isn’t like that judge,” followed by another “nevertheless”. My understanding of faith is Melancthon’s “notitia, assensus, fiducia” (knowledge, assent, trust). If Jesus is putting faith as the bottom line, should we replace it with desperation? Shouldn’t we be persistently asking with an attitude of trust?

    Finally, are the examples you cited prescriptive, or are they merely descriptive?

  2. Grateful for this reminder. I don’t want to be desperate…but I am! There’s no shame in being desperate. I see desperation as an acknowledgement that I have no other help than God and what God will provide. Luther’s explanation of the first commandment in the Large Catechism reminds me of this truth.
    Thanks again for this reminder.

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