Why is Jesus asking you to wait?
The other day, my wife and I had the opportunity to reunite with a friend from college that I hadn’t seen in at least 23 years. She teaches with us now, so we should start to see her with more regularity, but in the midst of chatting about what her life looks like presently, we also did some reminiscing back to our college years and made some observations about the differences we’ve noticed between student life today and student life back then.
One of the big differences, obviously, is the convenience that has come with being able to register for classes and other activities online. When we were new students, registration and most other activities like that took place in face-to-face meetings. Those meetings used to require us to wait in long lines as well. In fact, it was in one of those long lines that I originally met this particular friend.
As most people do, I appreciate the time saving capacity of modern conveniences, but I have to admit that there were benefits to being forced to wait a little longer for things than we’re used to waiting right now. Waiting can be highly beneficial, but it isn’t always easy. Tom Petty used to sing a song where he said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” I think we can all agree that that sentiment is something easy to identify with. Plain and simple, we don’t like waiting even though it can be highly beneficial.
I’m guessing there are things you’ve been praying about that, as of yet, you haven’t received an answer, even though you may have been lifting up your prayers for years. Maybe you’ve been praying for healing, but the only answer you’ve received from the Lord is, “Wait.” Maybe you’ve been praying for a family member who isn’t on the right path, and all you’ve heard so far is, “Wait.” How are you doing with that answer? Would you rather the Lord say something different, or can you see the benefits you’re experiencing in the development of your faith as you’re being forced to trust Him over the course of a longer season?
We are not the first people the Lord has asked to wait. There are many examples in Scripture of people who were forced to wait for the Lord’s miraculous intervention in their circumstances. Some of those people were asked to wait a short time, others waited for years, and others didn’t see their prayers on behalf of others answered until much after their earthly lives concluded. Mark 5:21-43 gives us examples of several people who were asked to wait for their prayers to be answered.
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “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.” 24 And he went with him. (Mark 5:21-24)
This portion of Mark’s gospel continues to record the events that took place on different sides of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had returned from His brief visit to the Gerasene region and was now most likely back in Capernaum where He had developed a strong reputation as a teacher and worker of miracles. Upon His arrival, the crowds of curious people began swarming Him again, but one such person in the crowd stood out. It was a man named Jairus who had an esteemed position of leadership in the local synagogue.
Jairus, a well-respected and well-known man of authority in the area bowed before Jesus and begged Him to heal his daughter who was sick and near the point of death. Jesus agreed to go with him and began walking toward Jairus’ home. Naturally, I’m guessing that their pace was swift and aggressive because of the urgency of this need, but almost as soon as they began walking, their journey was interrupted.
Mark 5:24-27 tells us that a woman who had a bleeding ailment that had lingered for twelve years approached Jesus secretly. According to the teaching of Leviticus 15, this woman was considered ritually unclean because of her condition. That meant she was required to avoid close contact with others. It also meant she wasn’t allowed to gather for worship in the synagogue. Anyone who knew she had this condition would also make a point of avoiding contact with her lest they be deemed unclean as well. This woman took advantage of the commotion of the crowd to get near to Jesus and touch his garment because she had faith that this would result in her being miraculously healed. She was right, but she didn’t get away with this taking place in secret.
For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5:28-31)
For twelve long, uncomfortable, embarrassing years, this woman sought the help of doctors, but no one was able to heal her ailment. In fact, their intervention only succeeded in making the problem worse. But her faith in Jesus resulted in her healing.
And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:32-34)
Her long wait was over. She was now well, and Jesus wasn’t ashamed to let it be publicly known that He had just had contact with her, which in another demonstration of His care and compassion, would allow her to begin normalizing the process of having contact with other people. Twelve years was a long time to wait, but it was certainly worth it. Her infirmity put her heart in the perfect position to recognize her need for Jesus, a relationship she is benefitting from eternally.
Your season of waiting may be doing the same for your heart as well. One at a time, as you exhaust every earthly solution you can think of, maybe you’ll start looking to Jesus as your only real hope. One at a time, as you begin to admit that the things of this world that you reached out to were leaving you worse off than you were to begin with, maybe now you’ll see that Jesus is your greatest need and your only real solution.
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:35-36)
The momentary interaction with the woman cost precious time, time Jairus probably didn’t feel they could spare. While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, Jairus received news that his daughter had died. Jesus overheard this news being relayed to Jairus, and saw Jairus’ face begin to contort with tears, so He intervened quickly, bolstered his faith, and reminded him that he didn’t have anything to fear.
As Jesus and Jairus continued their walk to his home, Jesus didn’t allow the crowd to follow along. In fact, he only allowed three other people to come with them; Peter, James, and John. When they got to the house, a crowd of mourners had already gathered to loudly grieve the passing of the only daughter of this well-respected man. It was obvious that the girl’s life had ended, but when Jesus arrived, He foreshadowed the miracle He was about to do and told the crowd she was “sleeping.” They laughed at Him, just like people of our day laugh at Him and mock His miraculous power and divine nature.
And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:40-43)
Six people walked into the presence of Jairus’ dead daughter; Jesus, Jairus, Jairus’ wife, Peter, James, and John. This small group watched as Jesus took the little girl by the hand, an action that would have amazed this group because contact with a dead body also made someone ritually unclean. But as Jesus took her hand He said, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” She immediately rose from death, completely healed of whatever illness had caused her death in the first place. She even rose with an appetite, showing that her health was completely restored.
For twelve long years, a woman dealt with a bleeding disease, the entire length of time that Jairus’ daughter had been alive. The text doesn’t tell us, but I have also wondered if Jairus’ daughter may have dealt with a progressive ailment over the course of her twelve years of life that gradually contributed to her death. Could it be that for the past twelve years both families had been praying for a miracle and that their prayers were being answered on the same day? It seems possible to me.
How long have you been waiting for the Lord to give you an answer to what you’ve been waiting for? A week? A year? A decade? If He asked you to wait twelve years for an answer, would that be too long?
The waiting may be the hardest part, but there is a great blessing in it. Jesus is using it to strip away the lies and false assurances you once attempted to rely on. He’s showing you that He really can be trusted. He’s allowing your faith to be stretched in order to make it a strong, unwavering confidence in His presence, power, and ultimate deliverance.
© John Stange, 2023