Sir Alec Guinness, the famous actor, made what he called a "negative bargain" with God when his son contracted polio. If his son recovered, Guinness promised, he wouldn't hinder his son's wish to become Catholic. The boy recovered, and Guinness kept his promise. A few years later, Guinness himself became Catholic.
Some might take a cynical view of Guinness's attempt to lure God to the bargaining table. After all, he turned to God only when he had nowhere else to turn. Yet that's been the experience of so many of us. It's only when our backs are pressed against the wall that we give God any real consideration. But God can work with that. He' knows that it's when we've hit rock bottom that we're most receptive to his grace.
We see this in today's gospel. The royal official approaches Jesus in desperation, with no other motive than to secure the healing of his dying son. Jesus knows this. "Unless you people see signs and wonders," he observes, "you do not believe." The royal official doesn't contest the point. He simply continues to beg Jesus. And Jesus heals his son, whereupon the official's entire household became believers.
God will meet us wherever we are, because even more than we might desire to be with God, God desires to be with us.