through His Word
by Katy Kauffman
Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life
A Blog Series on the Gospel of Mark
The clanging of his chains had become a part of him, as much as the hosts that lived within him. Night and day he roamed the hills, the links of his chains scraping with every jostle and jump. The sound was nothing compared to the torrent of cries and shrieks in his soul. They wouldn’t leave. But they gave him incredible strength. Enough might to break the chains that terrified people had used to try to subdue him.
How fitting that he lived among the tombs. He longed for the relief that the departed souls may have found. They were no longer trapped inside their bodies, like he was. Even though he was here as the only living man among the dead, he was dead inside. Dead to hope, dead to peace, dead to life.
Evil lived inside of him, evil that possessed thousands of voices, thousands of dark desires. They acted as sharp knives on his heart and sanity. Would he ever be free?
Something drew him to the water. He saw a man get out of a boat, and he instantly knew. He knew who this was—the Son of God.
“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
And he cried out with a loud voice and said,
‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’”
Mark 5:6-7 NKJV
You may recognize this story. It’s one of my favorites. The day that the demon-possessed man of the Gadarenes met his liberator.
Jesus knew what possessed this man—a legion of demons (Mark 5:9). At the time, a legion may have equaled 6,826 soldiers.1 Or 6,826 demons. Hopeless. Except for Jesus.
The man was powerless against the legion within him. So were the people who tried to tame him. Yet, when the legion met Jesus, there was no fighting, no flinging rocks, no running. Just begging.
Instead of being sent away, the legion begged Jesus to send them into a herd of swine. He granted their wish, and two thousand swine trampled the hillside and drowned in the sea.
The people of the town came out when they heard about this. And there he was. The man who had been possessed, “sitting and clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 NKJV). Instead of joy, the people felt fear, and begged Jesus to leave. Instead of fear, the man felt joy, and begged Jesus to let him follow Him.
In our lives today, hopelessness can take the form of a legion of sorrows. Sometimes we feel like we are trapped inside our own minds that are filled with negativity and despair. Or we are trapped in a situation that we can’t escape. Or a relationship that we have cherished is crumbling and we don’t know what to do. Or we have lost something or someone we hold dear.
Yet there is Someone who is strong enough to rescue us from any form that hopelessness takes. He became one of us so that He could be God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus has felt our sorrows—including loneliness, loss, temptation, and betrayal—and He overcame every obstacle He faced. He handled every desperation with strength and courage. He died on the cross and rose from the dead, breaking the power of sin and death to rule our lives.
No matter how bad it gets, Jesus can help us. He cut the spiritual chains of the demon-possessed man of the Gadarenes. He liberated his soul from the oppression and control of evil. He restored his senses and faculties. If we turn to Jesus today, He can rescue us from the oppression we feel from our circumstances or from our spiritual enemy. He renews our strength, peace, joy, endurance, and hope. He frees us from bondage to sin and rescues us from Satan’s attacks. He liberates us from hopelessness and places in our hearts an expectation of the great good He can deliver.
Jesus’ choice tools of liberation include His word, His presence, and His power. He also uses other people to encourage us and surround us with love and help. He gives us grace to handle difficult circumstances and people. He rescues us from hopelessness and gives us a story to share with others—how He has helped us and how He can help them too.
A New Ending
The demon-possessed man may have thought that he would live the rest of life among the tombs, bound to an evil force he couldn’t overcome. But Jesus wrote a new ending to his life and gave him a fresh beginning. The man wanted to use his freedom to follow Jesus, to go wherever He went. But Jesus gave him a different mission—to go home and tell his friends what the Lord did for him and about His compassion.
For all of us who believe in Jesus, He writes a new ending to our story—freedom, hope, victory. We don’t have to go through life with clanging chains wrapped around our souls, forever caught in despair or some form of spiritual bondage. Jesus gives us a fresh beginning in which we are clothed in His righteousness, sitting at His feet, in our right minds. Minds that are being transformed with the liberating truth of God’s word and the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. Minds that come to understand the Lord’s compassion and what He can do for us and for the ones we love.
No matter how bad it gets, Jesus can help us. Have you seen Him do that for you? Tell us about His compassion and freeing work in the comments below, and if some cause for hopelessness ambushes you, run to the One who can conquer anything. Hopelessness has no chance when we run to Jesus and ask Him for help. He can cast out the despair in our hearts and replace it with hope and great good.
1 Larry Pierce, The Online Bible, CD-ROM (Winterbourne, Ontario: Larry Pierce, 2007), Mark 5:9.
© Copyright 2018 by Katy Kauffman
This post is a part of our series called “Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life.” If you missed the first two posts, click the links below to check them out:
- “Jesus Can Make Your Giants Fall” on 10 reasons why Jesus can handle the obstacles of the Christian life (Mark Chapter 1)
- “Silencing the Questions of Fear” about how faith in Jesus calms our fears, plus six faith-building verses to hold onto
hopelessness, obstacles, challenges, faith, Jesus, Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life, Mark, The Day Hopelessness Had No Chance, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies
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