In 1995, I graduated and moved to Ohio to attend graduate school. After taking my first ministry job, I discovered something very telling of the church… they were very interested in prayer requests if it was about someone else. It was the first time I had ever moved away from family and there were no other options for worship where I was not “the pastor”, so I would share my own prayer requests as anyone else would. I was told that “No one wants to hear about your concerns. Share them somewhere else. Your job is to care about us.”
Mark 5: 21-43 is the total text where Jarius emplores Jesus to come quickly to heal his daughter, becomes interrupted by a woman with blood issues and, after attending to her healing, is told that the daughter is already dead and to not bother Jesus any further. Jarius is a synagogue leader. He has devoted his life to worship, prayer, and sacrificed time for God. When his life is in shambles, and reaches out for help, he is essentially told that he needs to go away and stop bothering Jesus.
That is no Jesus’ response, the bringers of bad news, so to speak. “Your daughter is dead… oh well… no use bothering this nice man.” We should note that when devastating news is brought when Jesus is involved, Jesus responds with emotion and compassion. “Lazarus is dead” is met with tears, even though Jesus knows what is coming. “Your daughter is dead” is met with “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Jesus offers it as encouragement but also as a declaration of the solution.
I fear that we often offer these same two phrases as a way to silence the discomfort that other’s reactions will bring…to us. Sadly when we respond with either one, they both have the same desired intent. Jesus offers genuine encouragement. Even when met with weeping and wailing when arriving at the synagogue leader’s home, Jesus comforts and encourages those present with news that this is not “the end”.
A few months back, a quote from Billy Graham surfaced after his death. In essence, he said that when you hear that he is dead, “Do not believe it… I am more alive than I have ever been.” Jesus offers Eternal life in the same way. If we come back to this world from death, so be it. But there is a life that far exceeds this one that awaits us. Our response is the difference. In any circumstance, our response, with passion and compassion, should be “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.”
Do I offer words of comfort to comfort or to silence those in distress?
Do I tend to expect other’s concerns to be less important than my own?
Do I believe I am bothering Jesus by mine or another’s concerns?