Those who wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength,
they will soar on wings like the eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
...for twelve years she had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead
of getting better she grew worse. Mark 5:25
"While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead,"
they said, "Why bother the teacher any more?" Mark 5:35
Parents waiting for children out past curfew know it. Couples having trouble conceiving a child know it. A family separated by overseas military service knows it. A person needing an organ transplant knows it. A candidate for law or medical school knows it. A pregnant mom 10 days past due knows it. A person struggling to be hired for a job knows it. In fact, at one time or another, most of us come to know this brooding beast. It's the long wait -- that drawn out time of fretful anticipation and extended longing.
"Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength..."
Often, this is easier said than done. Before we get to "mount up on wings like eagles," we often have to obediently grind away through the brutal passage of agonizing time. Before we can "run and not grow weary," we have to trudge on as anticipation dims and hope's flickering flame fights against the winds of despair. Many times, we just have to keep walking and trust that some hidden grace will help us "not faint."
That's what makes this story of Jairus' daughter so compelling to me. Like you, I don't like to wait. In my mind, if there is any privilege for those with power and position, one should not have to wait! "They" surely don't have to wait like I do. "They" get to move to the head of line. "They" get to throw around their weight and get what they want when they want it.
In this case, however, "they" (or more accurately, "he") didn't. (see Mark 5:21-43) Instead, Jairus' humbling approach to Jesus, an approach that could cost him everything in sacred society, was interrupted by a desperate woman who had faced "the long wait" herself as she had hopelessly gone to every healer available to her, and no doubt prayed incessantly for her own cure. This woman, who could not go into the synagogue because of her uncleanness, derailed the hope parade of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue.
I find two things amazing about both of them. First, neither complains about his or her wait. Not the woman, who has spent her fortune on false medical hopes, nor Jairus, who has spent his respect capital to associate himself with a suspicious teacher. Both wait for their Lord to act.
Impatiently waiting? Probably! But, they waited and received their grace. Second, they both received the personal attention of the Lord -- the man of power who could expect that attention and the woman on the fringes who, in her day, could not expect it.
Jesus refused to let the woman have an anonymous miracle!
He personally and specifically blessed her. Jairus' daughter would not be healed for the crowd, but only in the closed intimacy of Jesus' chosen few and Jairus' family. Both waited faithfully. Both received the personal attention of the Master! Each received his or her heart's greatest desire.
This is not a story about long ago and far away. It is a reminder that Jesus is there for those who wait. It is a renewal of the ancient hope that God will act for those who don't give up during the long wait. You see, the issue isn't the wait. Instead, it is all about refusing to give up hope when the journey seems so long (12 years for the woman) and the problems so insurmountable (a dead 12-year old daughter for Jairus).
Maybe you face the long wait right now. Maybe your heartbreak or shame or disappointment or loss seems insurmountable. If so, I want to encourage you to come back to this story of the powerless woman and the powerful man and remember the place their broken hearts met, the place their broken dreams were mended, and the place their long wait ended. Know that place is really a person, and his name is Jesus.