“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly…” (Mark 5:22)
We know Jairus’ story as one with a happy ending. And yet, when we first meet this distraught father in Mark 5, he has no assurance his horrible dilemma will conclude well. At a point in history void of medical specialists or advance treatment centers, his young daughter is deathly ill. The man has wealth, status, and connections at his disposal, but their ranking is of little consequence with his beloved child “at the point of death.”
Jairus throws himself before Christ like a desperate beggar. He “implored him earnestly” to “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” Jesus does not hesitate. Immediately he accommodates Jairus’ request.
But obstacles interfere. Crowds of people are pressing in, blocking a swift return home. A woman dealing with her own enormous health issues stops Jesus in his tracks as she reaches out in faith to touch his garment. While Jesus is occupied with her dramatic healing and engaged in meaningful discourse with her, the clock is ticking like a bomb waiting to detonate. The servants appear and relay the tragic news that is Jairus’ nightmare: his daughter has died before Jesus reached her side. Jairus’ plan to save her has failed. Nothing has transpired the way he anticipated. Jesus was distracted, and others received the miracle he wanted for his daughter. All is lost now, futile, forlorn. Not even Jesus can help him now!
Ever compassionate and mindful, Christ overhears the servants’ update and speaks five words to the man he had made a promise to earlier in the day. “Do not fear, only believe.” Jairus, I am not constrained by your present reality. I am not bound by what appears impossible. Others are telling you that no hope remains, but do not listen to them. Listen to me. I promised I would go with you, and I am by your side. I am still in this picture.
Nowhere along the road to Jairus’ home did Jesus wring his hands and worry about what lay ahead. Regardless of the length of the journey, the pressing crowds, or the desperate situation at hand, the Lord knew the end from the very beginning. Our good God still controls the outcome of our lives, too. As we make our way down the road and around the bend today, as we wait for him to transform our particular stories, he strengthens us with the same words that bolstered Jairus all those years ago. “Do not fear, only believe.”
Elizabeth A. Mitchell