In one of the more intense stories in the New Testament, we find Jesus confronting a man possessed by demons. Though Jesus approaches him in love and compassion, seeking to set him free from the evil that plagues him, the man is unable to see God’s love in that moment and instead fears the very worst. “I beg you,” he says to Jesus, “do not torment me.”
In our worst moments, in times of great weakness and shame and pain, it is easy to be so overcome by them that we fail to see Jesus as he truly is. Instead of seeing him as a lifesaver when lost at sea or a doctor to heal our deepest wounds, we fear he comes to torment us! Perhaps you find yourself battling these feelings this very moment?
The word our bibles translate as “torment” can also mean “to be tossed or agitated as by waves.” This is the usage we find in Matthew’s gospel when Peter walks on water as their boat was “beaten by the waves.” (Mt. 14:24) When we are left to our own devices and discernment, we can easily look at Jesus, the one who is meant to bring us life and health, and say instead, “You only seek my harm! You don’t care about me and what I’m going through!” To the one who’s meant to bring peace and calm the storm, we say “are you intentionally stirring up trouble so the boat of my life is beaten by the waves?” Though temptation, evil, and darkness are unavoidable parts of life, the hope of the gospel is that we don’t have to navigate temptation alone! We are reminded afresh that Jesus enters into chaos to speak life because he is good and seeks your good.
“Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned” (Luke 8:33).
Do you believe Jesus is powerful enough to actually kill the thing that destroys you? Can you trust today that his desire is not to torment you but to set you free? The way we live, we often act like this story reads in a more open-ended way! “Jesus drove the demons out…and they went around the corner to regroup and plan their next move,” or, “Jesus brought a feeling of peace but those demons are as strong as ever.”
Have the faith and courage today to believe that the Lord means what he says and is ready, willing, and strong enough to free you from your darkest evil and greatest fear. The Lord does not torment you but comes in love to set you free