In a normal lifetime, everyone will encounter physical crises. Sometimes a crisis has a short-term effect and ends in complete resolution. Often, however, a crisis leaves lingering emotional, physical, or financial strains. Other physical crises lead ultimately to death.
Pastors, church members, and leaders acutely feel the force of physical crisis within the church family. Laboring with those stricken, spiritual partners seek to make sense of the crisis, to give comfort, and to help those involved to discover the sufficiency of Jesus Christ as Lord of life.
How can we help one another in times of physical crisis? The aim of ministry in physical crisis is to help those who suffer to find consolation in Jesus Christ. While no one-size-fits-all approach works in every crisis situation, we do find helpful scriptural models that can equip us to minister in times of need. The story of Jairus and his daughter offers a pattern for ministry in a physical crisis.
I. Come to Christ (vv. 21-24)
The Scriptures do not say whether Jairus had personally heard and seen Christ or whether somebody had told him about Christ, but Jairus knew where to go for help. Before Jesus even got out of the boat, Jairus was there seeking Christ for help. Ministry does not take place when a friend or pastor announces, "I'm here to the rescue!" It happens when people actually begin to personally encounter Christ.
Sometimes directing people who are going through a crisis to Christ without seeming trite, insensitive, or even simplistic is difficult. Success for such ministry begins when people are willing to encounter Jesus personally.
As a synagogue official, Jairus would have been an unlikely candidate to run to Christ! But, someone, perhaps without realizing the impact or timing, probably used an opportunity to point Jairus to Christ.
Ministry is thus helped by acts of encouragement. What better encouragement than pointing to the way Christ works in varied situations? In God's providence, Jairus watched and listened as Jesus ministered to the woman healed of an ongoing hemorrhage (vv. 25-34). In a moment of personal crisis, Jairus looked to Jesus Christ for help.
II. Trust in Christ (vv. 35-36)
Jairus received the disturbing news of his daughter's death, the worst news a parent could ever receive. Amazingly, though, Jairus was able to listen to Christ's words. Gently and lovingly, those who minister must help the hurting to listen to Christ's words. Reading Scripture with the one in need, offering comments about the text, sharing an appropriate hymn, and praying for grace can help strengthen a sufferer's trust in Christ.
Trust in Christ does not guarantee that the one suffering will receive all he or she desires. Often an immediate solution is nowhere in sight. Yet the Christian, like Jairus, learns to rest in Christ's faithfulness. Jesus commanded Jairus to stop being afraid and to continue believing. Jairus was to keep on believing Christ! He did not know how Christ would handle the situation, but he believed Christ to be faithful. So often in crisis our minds fixate on a single solution. We must not become absorbed with anticipating a set solution but instead learn to trust in the faithfulness of Christ.
III. Receive from Christ (vv. 37-43)
Any of us would be thrilled to see a personal physical crisis resolved in a way similar to Christ's response in the life of Jairus's daughter! Sometimes the Lord, in His wisdom and according to His purpose, resolves crises demonstrably, which results in a public response of praise. Our praise, whether public or private, must go to Jesus Christ. But every situation is not resolved the way that Jairus's was. Paul was left with his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7-10); with the sword Herod killed James; but Peter was delivered from prison (Acts 12:1-19).
The resolution Christ chooses is not our call, yet Christ's presence really is sufficient and is greater than temporal relief from a crisis. Jairus's daughter would eventually die, but no situation could rob Jairus, his wife, or his daughter of the knowledge that Jesus Christ is sufficient as Lord of life.
As the family of faith, let us seek to point those in crisis to Christ so that they might know He is sufficient as the Lord of life.
As a young pastor I got to know another pastor who had gone through a great personal crisis. The birth of his third child, a boy, was normal until a mistake by medical personnel left the child brain damaged. I marveled as years later this pastor and his wife joyfully pushed their son in a wheelchair, fed him, and cared for his every need. I detected no bitterness or spirit of revenge toward the errant medical worker. Instead, they exhibited a genuine trust in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ as Lord over their lives.