A simple story from the life of Jesus reveals a man facing terminal difficulty.
When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. Luke 7:1-10
Did you notice the terminal difficulty facing this Roman Centurion? His servant, who meant much to him personally, was sick and about to die.
Is there some terminal difficulty in your life? Is there something in your life that is sick and about to die? Is it your marriage? Is it some other relationship? Could it be that the state of your own spiritual life is so low that you would describe it as “sick and about to die”? Or, is there a set of circumstances that has come into your life that you find beyond your control.
Ponder the decisions made by this Roman Centurion even before he stood in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He recognized the limits of his own ability. And so must you!
There are things you can’t do. There are circumstances you can’t control. There are problems you can’t solve. There were days when you thought you could. Before the problem got so severe, you may have tried your own solutions. But in the face of terminal difficulty, when something in your life is sick and about to die you must:
- Recognize the Limits of Your Own Ability.
A Centurion was a man in command. As a Roman officer, he was in command of one hundred men. He an able man who was in control of whatever circumstances he faced. But on this day, he had no command over his own circumstances. The situation was beyond his control.
This brought him to another realization. He understood he needed help from outside himself. His rank afforded him no advantage. His connection with power at the highest levels of government offered him no hope in the face of this situation. His servant, who was of great value to him personally, was sick and about to die.
What terminal difficulty brings you to the end of your resources? Would you be willing to take one more step toward getting help from Jesus?
- Acknowledge That You Need Help from Outside Yourself.
When the Centurion heard of Jesus, he sent for Him. He recognized something about Jesus that was not true about himself. He had to admit his problem was beyond the scope of any human authority—especially his own.
Here was a man who understood authority. He understood the chain of command. He understood he was accountable to an authority above him, and he moved at their command. He also understood he had one hundred men under his charge, who moved at his command. “For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
What did this mean. It means he perceived Jesus to have an authority that he himself did not possess. Officials at the highest level of the Roman government did not possess the authority that belonged to Jesus. He recognized Jesus could say the word and that disease would obey Him just as the lowest ranking officer must obey Caesar.
Do you have a terminal difficulty in your life? Is something in your life sick and about to die? What should you do?
- Admit to Yourself that the Situation Is Beyond the Scope of Any Human Authority.
There are no strings you can pull. There is no influence you can buy. The position you hold means nothing. Who you know provides you no leverage. What you have will not help. You have come to the limits of your own ability. You need help beyond yourself. Not only so, your situation is beyond the scope of any human authority.
The Jewish leaders, who were not quick to compliment Romans of any rank, quickly asserted that this Centurion was worthy of Jesus’ help. But standing as he was in the middle of difficulty, and knowing his own heart, he said, “For I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You.”
What a wise man he was to recognize who he was as he stood in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you stand in the face of the terminal difficulty this is also something you must understand.
- Understand That You Have Not in the Past, Do Not in the Present, and Will Not in the Future Deserve God’s Help.
When faced with problems, we often sense a reluctance to come to Jesus because we know ourselves. Is that how you feel? Do you feel unfit and unqualified to ask for the help of the Lord Jesus? It is because you are.! All of us are! We will never be fit or worthy to ask help from the Lord Jesus!
God’s intervention in our circumstance is always a matter of His grace and mercyand never about our own personal merit. So, in the face of that which is sick and about to die, place yourself at the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Humbly ask for the help He alone can give you in the midst of your circumstances.
- Place Your Circumstances Under the Authority of the Lord Jesus.
What does that mean. Simply this; in the face of terminal difficulty you must relinquish your command of the situation. It is acknowledging all the things said before, but it is taking your hands off, while making a conscious surrender of the situation to the Sovereignty of the Savior.
Can you release your personal circumstances to the Lord Jesus? There is nothing harder than taking your hands off something that means the world to you. But realizing your own helplessness and powerlessness, you understand that it must be surrendered into the hands of One mightier than you.
Such was the situation in the life of this Centurion. At home was his beloved servant who was sick and about to die. This man who commanded men and circumstances now had to make a radical shift in his thinking. What he did next, is what you must also do.
- Trust the Ability and Authority of Jesus to Speak to Your Circumstances.
Remember what this Centurion said to Jesus: For I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” Luke 7:6b-9
First, having heard of Jesus and the miracles He was working, he came to believe Jesus was also able to help him in the face of terminal difficulty. But the greatness of his faith is further displayed in not requiringJesus to come to his house. He understood the authority of Jesus. He understood that all Jesus had to do was to issue a command. He trusted the authority of Jesus to speak to His circumstances. Do you?
I am sure you have a situation in your life that must be “sick and about to die.” How can you, separated as Jesus seems from you and you from Him, secure His ability and His authority in your personal circumstances?
First, recognize the limits of your own ability. Acknowledge that you need help from outside yourself. Admit to yourself that the situation is beyond the scope of any human authority. Understand that you have not in the past, do not in the present, and will not in the future deserve, God’s help. That means coming to an awareness of your own sinfulness and unworthiness in the presence of the Lord Jesus. By faith, take the situation that leaves you helpless, and ask for the help of the Lord Jesus. Believe He has the ability and the authority to speak to your personal circumstances—even if you consider it some terminal difficulty. Surrender the situation to the Sovereignty of the Savior.
By doing those things, you take a step of faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. When you make that step, follow one more example offered to us by the Roman Centurion.
7. Expect Jesus to Make a Difference.
I realize some of you who read these words may be skeptical of Christianity, and you are certainly skeptical of me. Allow me to humbly suggest that you humble yourself in the presence of the Lord Jesus. There is no perfect way to do that. Just be sincere. Be genuine. Tell Him what your problem is. Ask for His help. Leave the matter in His hands. There is something in or around your life that is sick and about to die. In the face of this terminal difficulty, why not give Jesus an opportunity to prove Himself to you?
Photo by Gus Moretta