Twelve Years too Long–Too Short: A Perspective of Suffering

Mark 5.21-43

Jairus fell at the feet of Jesus. He, a synagogue ruler who wasn’t supposed to support the ministry of this man—this prophet—what was Jesus? He had no answer to that question, yet he fell at his feet anyhow, “Please, my little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Please don’t say no. You are my last hope. You are all I have. I can’t lose her. We can’t lose her.

Jesus went with him.

Along the way, the crowds pressed against a woman in an effort to be near to Jesus. She was used to feet shuffling past her. She was used to invisibility. She’d been unclean for 12 years and no amount of money, none of the doctors, none of the treatments had cleansed her. Her filthiness continued to flow through the most secret of places in such a way she couldn’t hide it. Her secret wasn’t so secret. It had cost her everything—everyone. If I could just touch Him, the torture would be over. Twelve years of pain and ostracism would end…

The woman reached out and touched his robe and her eternal suffering stopped—eternal life began. Jesus turned and saw her. For the first time in twelve years, she was visible. Now it was tears that ran.

Twelve years old and his daughter was dead. His servant came and stopped the crowd on the road and told the teacher to turn back—that it was a waste of his time to continue the journey to Jairus’ daughter. Her life was a flash. Cut short. A bud trampled before blooming.

Jesus turned to Jairus, as he ignored the news of his daughter’s death and said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Did the faith of the woman who once bled spur the feet of Jairus toward home in faith?

Jesus reached out and touched her—the daughter who had been taken so young. And life recommenced. Brevity was pulled and lengthened by eternity.

The year Jairus’ daughter was born was the year this woman began to bleed. Joy birthed while suffering stole. And Jesus chose to intertwine their stories.

Then, the moment the woman’s bleeding stopped the daughter’s death is announced. What felt like an eternity for the hemorrhaging woman felt like a flash for Jairus. And Jesus chose to intertwine their stories.

Complete strangers, forever connected in the canon of scripture. What can we learn? What do we see here?

Did the bleeding woman hear the news that Jairus’ twelve year old daughter had died? Did she make the connection? Did Jairus know of this woman? Had he seen her—cast out of society? Was he familiar with her failed treatments? When Jairus saw Jesus heal her, did his faith soar? Back to the scene of her healing.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched me?”

“You see people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?'”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet, and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

What if she had stayed silent? No one knew about her healing except her and Jesus. What if she’d chosen to make eye contact and mouth thank you? What would her faith have done then? Only healed her? Would it have encouraged Jairus?

Again, I ask myself: Did the faith of the woman who once bled spur the feet of Jairus toward home in faith?

She possessed pressing faith.  She possessed faith that conquered shame. The same crowds that pressed the woman toward her savior were the same crowds that slowed Jairus’ journey toward his daugther. Was he blessed by the obstacle? Was his faith increased when his patience teetered?

So my challenge to myself is this:

Live in a way that offers strength to others. Live in a way that allows others to see Jesus goes with me. When suffering is long, when endurance is taxed, offer it to those whose loss is sudden so they might receive an extra measure of strength. And speak up out of secret places. Give voice when the glory of God conquers shame.

It was their faith that healed them. Twelve years stretched thin. Twelve years cut short. And it is perspective that allows us to give thanks.


3 thoughts on “Twelve Years too Long–Too Short: A Perspective of Suffering

  1. ‘And it is perspective that allows us to give thanks’

    So very true Marian. A perspective I had not seen. How beautifully you have shown us.
    ‘Speak up and give voice when the glory of God conquers shame’…that my friend is my life story…and the story of many other readers I would dare to guess.

    thought provoking.

    with gratitude,

  2. Mercy, how many times have I read that story? I love when God gives a fresh perspective on an ancient word. Thank you for writing this. I had the same thought as Karen; this is what really got me:
    “And speak up out of secret places. Give voice when the glory of God conquers shame.”

    1. I wish you both could have seen me: I was working through an assignment for school and sometimes over-familiarity gets me stuck. So when I saw this (it was new to me, too) my fingers couldn’t fly over the keyboard fast enough. Isn’t it amazing that we can read carefully through the same stories so many times and see varying details? It makes me heart swell with love. And my head bow with humility.

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