I write this morning with a heavy heart. A dear friend of mine has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Yesterday she shared that she resigned from her job and is no longer having chemo treatments. My heart is breaking for her and her family. Part of me wants to cry. Part of me wants to scream. And part of me cannot image facing this without faith.
With these thoughts on my mind, I turn to our Bible story for this week found in Mark 1: 21-28. The story is about Jesus chasing out an unclean spirit. Can a story like this be relevant today? We don’t have unclean spirits any more. Do we?
Maybe not exactly as described in the story, but forces of evil do exist. Today I am focused on the destruction caused by cancer. But you or someone you love may be weighed down by addiction or bullying or bankruptcy or overwhelming stress or mental health concerns or grief or racism or injustice or unemployment. Each of these stands in the way of the life God wants for us.
Jesus’ first official act in the gospel of Mark is to confront the forces of evil. Jesus does not stand by and watch! Jesus stands up against anything that keeps us from experiencing life to the fullest. Jesus opposes all that takes away joy, breaks apart relationships, and keep us from fulfilling our purpose.
All through Mark we hear stories of God breaking down boundaries and barriers. Mark starts with Jesus’ baptism when the heavens tore open and the boundary between heaven and earth was destroyed. Mark ends with Jesus confronting the barriers of sin and death through his own death and resurrection.
Today all I can do is cling to God’s promise that Jesus destroys all that separates us from God.
Romans 8: 34-39 (NIV adapted slightly)
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or cancer or mental illness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”