The better part of this equation is much easier to live in / with / through! But every single time those worse times crop up, living isn’t easy anymore!
Have you ever made things worse by trying to better a situation?
Cleaning a paintbrush today, I accidentally sprinkled a few yellow splotches on our cedar siding. So of course, I got a wet cloth, a brush, and applied some elbow grease . . . Feeling satisfied that I’d conquered the spatters, I went about my business.
But later, I glanced up from some other work and noticed large lighter areas on the siding—yep, created by my fixing attempts.
The story of the Gadarene demoniac in Luke chapter eight or Mark 5 has always drawn me, perhaps because the victim has so many impossible challenges.
“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:” Mark 5:23
Imagine being so isolated you live naked in a cemetery, crying out and bruising yourself with stones. This fellow’s utter desolation intrigues us. We realize that those times were different from ours. Scholars think his locale, northeast of the Sea of Galilee, might have had something to do with his spiritual and emotional difficulties because idol worship had pervaded the area for centuries.
Categorized as ‘demon possession’ in those days, his challenges included mental problems, too. He comes across as severely disabled, devoid of human relationships, and about as far from normal as we can imagine. No wonder people avoided him.
“Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.” Mark 5:4-5
His behavior—breaking even the strongest chains—would send fear into the best of us. Yet, well aware of his situation, Jesus still approached this individual. Further, He healed him by sending his demonic tormentors into a herd of pigs.
“For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.” Mark 5:8, 11-13
He experienced the worse. You’d think local citizens would be relieved and grateful that the poor man was better, but his change brought anguish to some folks in the area. Jews refused to eat pork, but weren’t above raising swine for Roman soldiers to buy and roast.
So a lot of money went down the drain–so to speak–when an entire herd drowned in a body of water. For those counting on this source of income, the healing induced dire circumstances.
Centuries later, we focus on the pitiful victim’s release and rejoice in our Lord’s power over evil. But maybe we can identify a bit with those swine herders, too. If we suddenly discovered that someone battling severe illness had been healed using the money in our savings account, we might be disturbed, too.
Change upsets the proverbial apple cart–whether for the worse or the better. And loved ones may fear change more than anything else. The moral: progress may create unexpected upheaval.
Help us, Lord, whatever it takes, to seek and allow change in our lives and in the lives ours touch.
So when did you make things worse, trying to make them better?