Within hours of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, political leaders from both parties gathered on the steps of the capital building. In a crisis they reacted to the chaos of that day by encouraging American citizens to pray. The leaders of our government recommended what all of us knew: We needed a supreme being to take control of an impossible situation.
A crisis makes us look for a Savior
A call to prayer in the face of a national crisis seemed entirely appropriate. In times of personal crisis, we almost always call out for God to take control. But for some, questions arise even as they call to God for help. Does God even exist? Which one of all the gods we have heard about is real? Will God listen to us? Could he fail us, or could things get worse? If he is powerful enough to address the need?
We ask questions like these because we tend to attach human limitations to our concept of God. It’s obvious that piles of money, the most proficient doctors, and the best government leaders have limited effects in a serious crisis. That’s why we yearn for someone with supernatural abilities and resources to come to our rescue. When we find ourselves helpless to address a terrifying situation, we might question whether God will even notice what we’re going through. If he is busy elsewhere, will he notice and care about what’s going on?
Jesus revealed God’s compassion and power
Consider this incident in which Jesus demonstrated both His desire and his ability to help a person in great need.
[Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said. “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother (ESV).
It would have been easy for Jesus to step aside for the funeral procession and continue on his way. He was very busy with his disciples and a large crowd of followers. But he noticed this woman in crisis. In addition to the unspeakable sorrow caused by her son’s death, she may have just become homeless. Her husband was dead, and now her son. Without a male family member to care for her, she may have lost her home and source of income. Unspeakable sorrow and fear would have consumed her as she walked behind those carrying her son’s body.
Love, Compassion and Power
But Jesus not only saw her, he acted. His love and compassion prompted him to speak words of comfort to this widow who had lost everything, including her son. Then, he stopped the funeral and commanded the dead man to get up. By issuing that order Jesus demonstrated the extent of his power. He could not only heal blind men and feed thousands. But He could also raise the dead. So, in obedience to the Creator of life, the widow’s dead son sat up and started talking. In the blink of an eye, Jesus had turned a woman’s weeping into songs of joy.
You can trust God to help you
This incident in the life of Jesus shows that any child of God can trust him in a crisis. That widow was not a relative or a neighbor. She was a stranger to Jesus. But he felt empathy for her. In the same way, when we face unspeakable sorrow and loss, he is our loving and compassionate Savior. When Jesus raised that young man from the dead, he demonstrated his power. If he can raise the dead, he can handle any crisis we face in our lives. Observing what Jesus did for this widow helps us trust him when everything is out of control in our lives. Jesus still cares for his people, and he will comfort us and meet our needs. He will express his compassion and exert his power to bring order out of our chaos, just as he did for the widow of Nain.