A couple months back, I was trying to think through what to say to some families in difficult times. Each family had a member desperately ill, in intensive care. Each family was asking for prayer and crying out themselves. There were prayer meetings and vigils, there was confidence that God could and would (and should) work miracles. Eventually, all three people died.
I tried to figure out what to say to them, how to offer support for their desires even as I knew what happens when bodies are not healing, when the various numbers look like these numbers.
I don’t want to offer false hope and I don’t want to deny the existence of miraculous healings. From my own observations, death always comes, healings are temporary, and these conversations are hard.
With that background, reading the next three stories from Mark is hard.
In the first story, a woman gets close to Jesus, touches him with the intent and desire that the touch will be healing, and it is.
In the second story, a girl dies while Jesus is delayed by the first story, and Jesus brings her back to life.
In the third story, only a few people are healed.
The thread through these stories, identified by Jesus, is faith. In the first story, Jesus tells the woman that she is healed because of her faith. In the second story, Jesus tells the parents to believe. In the third story, Jesus is amazed at the lack of faith in his hometown.
The lesson most often taught is that if we have faith, we will be healed. Like the woman and the girl.
Which seems to mean that for these families that the death of their loved one is a result of either a lack of their faith or a lack of God’s faithfulness.
And that is really hard.
Read the stories. I’ll be back tomorrow.