Using Bible stories to examine characteristics of God that we never thought about, characteristics that apply to what we’re facing right now.
Gregory C. Lyon
Take a few moments to read through Luke 4:31-37. Think about these questions as you read: What if you were sitting in that congregation on that day with all the challenges that you are facing right now? Consider your current circumstances in life and then ask yourself: What characteristic about Jesus sticks out?
Is there an obvious answer? Perhaps. One is given in the text. Jesus is powerful. But what else?
A pastor sat with Suzy a few weeks after a major mental breakdown as part of her ongoing support team. She was not in a good place. Where does he start? He started with a story. He opened his Bible to Luke 4 and asked Suzy, “What characteristics of Jesus do you see on display here?”
Without hesitation, Suzy said, “He’s brave.” (Is that a characteristic that you had considered?)
“Why brave?” the pastor asked.
She replied, “He’s not afraid to confront the demon that confronted him. He was confident.”
Suzy knew that she wasn’t brave because she could not confront her own demons. She began to understand that Jesus was what she could not be for herself. She began to see Jesus not just as someone who did amazing things for some people but as a gracious God who was FOR HER! She continued in her professional counseling and was able to confront some of those difficult things she thought she would never be able to face. She knew that Jesus was brave for her and that he had already conquered all her enemies. None of those “demons” had power over her.
Sometimes reading a biblical narrative can lead you to ask, “Who cares?” A blind man receives sight. A little girl is raised from the dead. Jesus shows mercy to a guilty prostitute. Great for them, but what about me?
But what happens if you read biblical narratives like I suggested at the beginning? What if you put yourself in the story? With your current circumstances right in front of you, might you notice something that you had not noticed before?
Biblical narratives provide powerful lessons in the grace, mercy, and power of God for individuals, including you and me. Biblical narratives can also show us characteristics of God that we may never have thought about, characteristics that apply to what we are facing now. You might see a Savior who is brave for you, strong for you, confident for you. And the next time you read that story, you might notice something else as your experiences change.
Over the next five issues, we are going to dive into a few biblical narratives with an eye toward common struggles among Christians: anxiety, depression, guilt, grief, and trauma. We will look at various biblical narratives and place ourselves in the story as a bystander. We will explore through personal applications what we see and hear, while also identifying characteristics that are on display. Perhaps we will learn more about ourselves and God’s amazing love for us, a love that is always there right when we need it, in the specific way that we need it.
Contributing editor Gregory Lyon, campus pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a member at Pilgrim, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
This is the first article in a six-part series on applying biblical narratives to our lives.
Author: Gregory Lyon
Volume 107, Number 01
Issue: January 2020