The Jesus who calmed a sea of deadly, stormy waves, whose arrival sent thousands of demons cringing and cowering to his feet ... the Jesus who in Mark 5 crossed a sea and entered hostile territory just to release a single outcast filled with evil--this is the same Jesus who let himself be tortured and killed to release you from your misery and chains, too. He cast out countless demons, but was cast out by his own people; he controlled creation with a word, but then offered up his body and life to that creation. He did so, knowing full well we'd turn on him, cruelly abuse and do our best to destroy him ... and he did all of it to show how deeply, how intensely, how passionately he cherishes *you.*
Despair is strong, but is Jesus not stronger? Evil fights hard, but has it not already lost? My chains are too heavy for me to lift, but is Jesus not more than able--and willing!--to reach out and break them? Income collapses, bills pile up, but can (and will!) the feeder of the five thousand not provide? Whatever I'm going through might be excruciatingly painful, but ultimately, somehow, it will be okay. It will be redeemed. The Divine Lover will not allow his beloved’s suffering to go to waste.
Though I despise myself as a miserable and repulsive creature, though I stand apart, living death in the tombs, though I am trapped and tortured daily within my own mind, he sees me; he comes to me when no one else will. He is not daunted by demons or darkness. They're already his prisoners, under his control. One word from him, and I am free. Until then, he watches, caring and suffering with me, waiting for the moment of release.
If I still suffer, it's because he's giving me a story to tell, a story of exquisite, painful, powerful, beautiful mercy. He gives me this story--and this mercy--so I can better attest to the greatness of his strength and love; he's preparing me for the awesome privilege of displaying him, in my own small way, to my world.
So many, too many, of my brothers and sisters share my situation. We sit enchained, alone, lost, hopeless, in agony ... believers and non-believers alike. The Master's liberating love and mercy are infinite. Why keep them to myself? My fellow captives, take heart! Jesus is coming! Jesus is here! Jesus leads you, like the man in Mark 5, through the tombs to himself; he touches you when no one else dares approach! He who has but to speak and worlds appear, he who captures and destroys all death and dying, he who invented life, who creates and sustains all living things--he is a million times (and more!) stronger than all the strongest, cruelest demons, put together. Best of all, he comes to use that strength on your behalf, to give each of us new life, and hope, and healing.
Take heart, dear, dear, beloved one! The God of the universe loves you--yes, YOU! And though you may not see or feel him, though the darkness may yet be too thick for you to break, he is with you, this very second. He sits quietly beside you in the darkness, sharing and experiencing each fear and pain *with* you, understanding more than you or I will ever know. He is come ... to set you free!