When I was a kid, I lived in Hawaii for a few years, which is a pretty great place to live. One of the things I remember is how it could be incredibly sunny and beautiful, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the skies would turn dark and it would rain like crazy, with torrential rains coming down. The streets would flood, and it would be a big mess.
Then, all of a sudden, the sun would come out, the clouds would part, and it would be over. If you didn’t like the weather, you could wait 15 minutes, and it probably would change.
Life can be like that. You can be in the midst of a horrible storm, with everything going as badly as it possibly could, and suddenly the clouds open up, the sun comes out, and your life is doing wonderfully.
Then again, it can be just the opposite. Everything is going your way, and suddenly the bottom drops out. A tragedy happens. A loved one dies. The doctor’s office calls and says you have to come in immediately; they just got the results of your tests. Your boss calls you in and says that the company is downsizing, and your position has been eliminated. Life can change that quickly.
The Bible tells the story of two people for whom life changed very quickly. Their problems were very different, but they had one common need.
One of them was a poor, helpless, broken-down and discouraged woman. Her life grew more miserable by the day, and an end to her troubles was nowhere in sight. She had been sick for 12 years and had spent all of her money to get her health back, but to no avail.
In contrast, the other principal character in this story, Jairus, was a man of great power and prestige. He was a man who had it all together – that is, until his beloved daughter became gravely ill.
Twelve years is a significant amount of time for both of these two hurting people in this story. This poor woman had been in poor health for 12 years, while Jairus’ daughter had been alive for 12 years. While this young girl had probably experienced 12 years of relative happiness, this sick woman had experienced 12 years of pain, rejection and tears.
So when Jairus, a man of power, position and prestige, saw his daughter grow sicker by the day, he was alarmed because there was nothing he could do. But he knew that Jesus was around.
I don’t know whether Jairus was a believer in Jesus at this point. But he knew that Jesus was the one who could touch his daughter. Maybe he had a basic faith that he was beginning to exercise. So he found Jesus, and they went on their way to Jairus’ house to see his sick little girl. I think Jairus must have been filled with hope, thinking, Everything is going to be all right. I have Jesus here. He will do something special.
But suddenly this woman arrived on the scene, touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was instantly healed. Jesus stopped immediately and said, “Who touched me?”
Who didn’t touch him? Jesus was thronged by people, with everyone milling and moving around him. But Jesus knew that power had gone out of him. Someone had tapped into it, and he wanted to know who it was.
But Jesus did not want to rebuke the woman; he wanted to commend her. He pointed to the great faith that she had and gave her a reassuring word.
Jairus could have been impatient while all this was going on. He could have said, “Lord, excuse me. In all fairness, I am glad that you care about this woman, but my daughter is dying. Could you get to my house first and then come back and talk with her?” But Jairus didn’t say that.
Maybe he knew this was the modus operandi of Jesus, if you will. The Lord was always taking care of the underdogs and the hurting people. He had sought out that demon-possessed man. He was there with the Samaritan woman and sought out the tax collector Zacchaeus up in the tree in Jericho. He was always going to society’s rejects. Maybe Jairus knew a little bit about that because he did not protest.
Sometimes it looks as though the Lord is not listening to us and has put an obstacle in our path. He wants us to rise to the occasion. He wants us to exercise our faith. He wants us to step forward and not give up so easily.
Yet so many of us do. We ask the Lord to do something, and he doesn’t do it. So we say, “Forget it!” Be persistent. The woman was. And Jairus, if he was being tested, certainly came through this with flying colors. He realized that this was not an interruption, but an opportunity. He not only accepted Jesus, but also His timing.
This is where a lot of people have trouble with God. But as I have said many times, there are three ways that God answers prayer: Yes, no and wait. I hate the answer wait. Who wants to wait?
But here is what we need to be careful of. Don’t try to take matters into your own hands, because you can make a bigger mess of it.
Jesus does not ask for our understanding of his ways and timing; he asks for our trust. He got this from the desperately ill woman and from Jairus. What about you?
God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials. Sometimes he doesn’t give us what we are asking for because he wants to give us something far better at a later time. Can you trust that God knows what He is doing? Then wait on him for his perfect timing.