Our Lord Initiates
Chan Gin Kai
Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” (Luke 7:11-13)
A large crowd was following Jesus, when he saw another crowd. He was teaching his crowd the way to life; the other was a crowd that mourned the dead. His was a crowd that brimmed with joy; the other was a crowd that was filled with sorrow.
Jesus bridged the divide and went up to them. The only Son of God approached the only son of a widow.
He saw the elderly widow and his heart went out to her. There’s a Chinese saying, that there’s nothing sadder than a white-hair sending the black-hair first... a parent having to bury her own child. But it was even sadder for this mother as she was a widow. Not only had she lost her husband, she has now lost her only child too. It was not only emotionally devastating, but also a severe impact to her livelihood.
When Jesus saw her, “his heart went out to her”, and he comforted her. He had a large crowd following him, but this widow caught his attention. He had sermons to preach and people to teach, but comforting her was more important. Jesus’ compassion was the reason for his mission.
Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (Luke 7:14-15)
Jesus performed many of his miracles when people approached him for help. But there were also times he did so without being asked. It was his idea to feed the 5,000. The man possessed by Legion didn’t want to be exorcised. The resurrection of the son of this widow is another example. The widow most likely hadn’t known about Jesus’ miraculous powers, and she certainly did not ask him to resurrect her son. He initiated it when he saw her situation. It was never really the requests that moved Jesus, but the needs.
God is moved by His compassion more than He is moved by our requests.
Many of us believe that we’ve got to pray hard to move God... God will listen to me if I repeat my prayers, God will grant my request if I plead more desperately, God will see my seriousness if I fast. The fact is, we never saw that with Jesus. He was never an unwilling saviour that needed to be persuaded. He was eager to help, and many times initiated without being asked. Would a parent require her child to beg repeatedly and skip meals before granting the child’s request?
God has compassion on us and delights in helping us. He sees our needs and initiates too. I have at times complained when I felt that God didn’t answer my prayer requests, yet He has initiated to bless me in many more areas that I’ve never prayed for. And if I were to compare the blessings I never prayed for and the requests he didn’t answer, the blessings He has given me are far greater and much more important.
God cares. But my tunnel vision, focusing only on the problems that overwhelm me, blinds me to all the other ways He has helped me with compassion. He shielded me from a ‘meteor strike’ while I begged him about a ‘mosquito bite’. And I question, “Why don’t you care for me?”
Since God sees our needs before we tell Him, and initiates to help us even if we do not ask, does it mean then that we do not need to pray to Him about our requests? The Bible teaches us that we should make our requests to God in prayer. However, we made our prayer requests not because we need to persuade God, but for us learn to rely on Him and cast our anxieties away. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Our prayers are not meant to convince God to help us, but to convince us to trust God.
They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. (Luke 7:16-17)
Indeed, God has come to help us. We can be confident that He sees our needs, He has compassion for us, and He will help us.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".