Are We Going To Have Fear . . . Or Faith?

    One of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

    Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

    While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement, (Mark 5:21-43) 

We just heard of two miracles performed by Jesus in the same day. How amazing!

We could say that a miracle is one of those times when things get out of control in a good way. God interrupts our orderly existence with something wonderful that doesn’t fit our notions of orderliness. We need those moments in our memories for when things go out of control in a bad way. For each one of us, there comes a day when we feel like our lives have been hijacked by bad news. We go along day after day doing our best. We raise our children, get our exercise, and pay our bills on time. The years go by, and we begin to think that we are in control of our lives, that everything will be okay. We just need to do our best.

Then one day everything changes; we get a cut in salary or laid off; we get some back news from the doctor. One moment we feel in control of our lives and in the next we feel trapped inside of a car zooming down a hill with no brakes.

There have been times when we have said, “I think I have lost control of my life.” We’ve heard others say it. But we cannot lose something we never really had. We know that we were never really in control, we only think we were. We cannot control what happens to us; we can only choose how we will react when the bad (and good) times come.

We heard last week that Jesus was caught sleeping while a storm was trying to swamp the boat (Mark 4:35-40). Jesus admonished the disciples, saying

    “You still don’t get it, do you? You don’t need to be afraid. You just need faith.” (Mark 4:40)

In today’s scripture, Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, falls at Jesus feet. His daughter is mortally ill – something he cannot control. He pleads:

    “Come and heal my girl so she can live.”  (Mark 5:23)

But before Jesus can get to Jairus’ house, word comes that she is dead. Jesus says, once again:

    “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (Mark 5:36)

Jus these two things:

    Don’t be afraid and have faith.

Let’s think for a moment about the nine people who were massacred at the Mother Emmanuel AME
Church. According to reports from the survivor, the members of the Bible Study class had to have been more scared than they had ever been in their life. But they put their faith and trust in God, knowing that He would take care of them. They had to have been afraid, but their faith in God sustained them for the few second it took the perpetrator to send them to their heavenly reward.

That, my friends, is true faith!

The other person in the Scripture is a woman who had been ill for twelve years with hemorrhaging. She had tried countless doctors–but rather than getting better, she was now worse. She was running out of options; she had been shunned by her family and friends and the village. . . she had nowhere to go. Her only hope is to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe – she knows if she can do that, she will be healed. . . otherwise she is likely to die.

These two people who had nowhere else to turn, came to Jesus.

And once again, Jesus spoke of faith:

    “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)

He says again and again and again:

    “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (Mark 5:36)

And He says this to us, especially when things happen in our lives that we cannot control. We want to control our lives and we’d like to control God. If we controlled God, we could get a miracle when we needed (or wanted) one. But these miracle stories are not about control. They are stories about what God is like and how God acts.

Mark wrote the stories down so that we would know that Jesus was no ordinary man, and God was no ordinary god. That when something goes wrong, we would have strength to carry on. Mark wanted us to know that even when Jesus was gone he still had the power to still the storms of our lives and raise us out of a living death to life again.

We have two choices: either we can be afraid or we can have faith.

We all know that being afraid gets us nowhere – except MORE afraid.

Life happens. Faith has little to do with what happens to us; faith has everything to do with how we handle what happens to us. Faith gives us a much better chance of experiencing those miracles of God’s grace all around us right now. There is power in faith. Scientific research proves that believers are happier and healthier than non-believers. Not because God plays favorites; not because He blesses some people and withholds His blessings from others.

We are all afraid at some time or another – that is being human. But, with faith we can know that things are going to get better. And there is healing power in that belief.

Amen.

 

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH  28 June 2015

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