Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Waiting. Who really likes to wait? Do any of you? Most parents would agree that their children don’t want to wait for anything. The last thing kids want to hear is mommy say, “Not now.” It can prompt anger, frustration, even hopelessness. Our uneasiness with waiting follows most of us into our adult years. We may not respond with the same emotional outbursts as children, but most of us still hate waiting for what we want.
And certainly our society makes it worse. We want everything done quickly. There are new technologies constantly spring up to meet those demands and encourage our impatience. How many remembering having to wait to connect to the internet? Now, it’s instantaneous. We are not used to waiting, and the more our technology caters to our immediate desires, the less we feel willing to wait. Today’s Gospel reading is about some people who had to wait on the Lord.
Waiting Reveals our Fears
There was a man named Jairus, the president of the synagogue, and well-respected in the community. He was looking for Jesus amid a thick crowd. When he found him, he fell at Jesus’ feet. “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.” Jairus had faith. He believed that Jesus could heal his daughter by laying his hands on her. He trusted in Jesus the Healer. But he also had much fear because time was running out. He grabbed Jesus’ hand and fought his way through the crowd. He didn’t want to wait because he was afraid that if they didn’t hurry, his daughter would die!
In that crowd was a woman. Her skin wa white with anaemia. She was weak but not that old. Her blood count was dangerously low, and her energy was gone. She’s been bleeding for twelve long years. She waited all that time for a cure. And doctors bled her of her entire life savings, everything she had. Some doctors they were! Under their care, she was actually getting worse.
As a result, according to the law she was ceremonially unclean. No one wanted to touch her. That’s why she wanted to sneak up on Jesus. She’d heard reports about how Jesus healed the sick with just a touch. Yet, she was afraid that Jesus wouldn’t want to touch her. She was fearful of his judgment and rejection. So, she snuck up to Jesus, surrounded by this massive crowd. This woman got down on all fours, reached out her hand, and her fingertips gently brushed the hem of Jesus’ robe.
And immediately, her bleeding stopped. She felt a surge of vitality, life, health, and strength go through her body. At that exact moment, Jesus sensed something too. Power had gone out of Him. Jesus stopped and stood there waiting. Poor Jairus, the desperate father with the sick little girl, had to wait longer.
The woman stepped forward, trembling in fear. The fear and illness that had defined her life still had their grip on her. She fell at Jesus’ feet and admited the whole thing. Jesus looked into her eyes, with all the fatherly goodness and compassion of God, and said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed of your sickness.”
All the while, Jairus was on hold – waiting and worrying. Servants came running from his house with the news he dreaded. It’s too late. “Your daughter is dead.” Those words must have stabbed Jairus deep into his heart. What must he have been thinking? Had this woman not delayed Jesus, maybe, just maybe, the little girl might have lived. But now, there is no hope. Why bother the Teacher anymore?
Jesus ignored what they said. When all reasonable hope has run out, and when death has had its way, Jesus looked at Jairus gave him hope. “Do not fear, only believe.” “You trusted me when she was sick, my friend. Now trust me with her death. She’s safe.”
He goes to the house, and there’s chaos and commotion, people weeping and wailing. “Why all the weeping and wailing? She’s not dead but sleeping,” says Jesus. Sleeping? Jesus thinks of death as little more than sleep. Not dead but sleeping. And the people laughed at Him through their tears of grief.
He threw everyone out of the house except for Jairus and his wife and some of his disciples. He went to the bed, where the little girl laid still and lifeless. He bent down and took her hand in His hands and called to her in their native Aramaic, “Talitha cumi! Little girl, arise.” And she does! She gets up and walks around, and tears of grief turn to joy and amazement. She lives!
The characters in our text had to wait. And it was while they were waiting that their fears were exposed. The problem is that we often let fear consume us. What happens when we are waiting for something? We fear. We think of all the things that can go wrong. We are often scared by our own thoughts and feelings, frightened of other people, fearful of losing something, and also afraid of the future. When we are afraid, we have a hard time waiting patiently because we want to get ourselves out of the situation that’s causing our far. Many of our destructive acts come from the fear that something bad will happen to us or those we love. Fear can disable us. The more afraid we are, the more torturous waiting becomes. The thing we fear becomes the god we we will do anything to appease.
Waiting Requires our Trust
This text presents a challenge to each of us. When every support is gone, when every hope fails, when there is nothing more to say, are you willing to wait on the Lord? Our text from Lamentations says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Are you willing to wait on the Lord when your prayers go unanswered? What if they went unanswered for twelve long years? Are you willing to wait when the doctors can do nothing more for you? Are you willing to wait when every day you feel worse than before? With the woman in our text, are you ready to wait twelve long years for the day when Jesus comes to town?
Are you going to wait with Jairus on the road to his house? Are you willing to wait when you look at the pale face of your dying loved one, fearing the worst? Will you wait on Jesus when you hand your loved one over to the doctors? And then when the doctor comes out and tells you that they tried everything, but it was not enough, will you wait then? Are you still willing to wait when you stand at the grave of your departed loved ones? Will you wait when Jesus says to you, “Your loved one is not dead, but sleeping.”
Are you willing to wait on the Lord when every last shred of early hope is taken away from you? Are you going to wait when you are left all alone in your suffering, your pain, your grief? Will you continue to wait on the Lord when you look at the record of your life, the list of commandments you have broken, and the people you have hurt? Or when you face the cold reality of your death, with all the uncertainty that mortality brings?
Hear the word of the Lord: “Do not fear, only believe.” Jesus says that to each of you here this morning. It’s a personal word, as individual as being baptized. It’s as personal as hearing that word of forgiveness spoken over you with hands laid on your head. “I forgive you all of your sins.” It’s as personal as the Bread and the Wine in your mouth. “This is my Body given for you.” “This is my Blood shed for you.” These are words we need. “Do not fear. Trust.” Trust. Trust Jesus. Faith waits patiently, quietly, confidently, trusting that in the end, Jesus will come through. Even if death intervenes first, that still hasn’t settled it.
Do not fear; trust Jesus because he will come through. Jesus has defeated Satan, Sin and Death for you. He died your death for you. Jesus made restitution to God by his blood and rose from the dead for you. He reigns in the highest heaven for you. He comes to you in Baptism, Supper, and Word, humble robes you can touch and be healed. And He will reach down on the Last Day, reach down to where you lie in the sleep of death like Jairus’ little daughter. He will reach down and take your hand and say to you, “My son, my daughter, arise.” And He will raise you and your loved ones just like He did Jairus’ little girl, and you will run around for an eternity, and He will feed you at His feast forever.
For now, there is only waiting on the Lord and waiting requires trust. Waiting requires trust that the Lord is true to His Word. Waiting requires us to hold on to this one fact: Jesus will come through for you. “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”
May that peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.