My cousin and her husband were suddenly faced with that kind of situation this week when their not-quite-six year old ended up in surgery for a ruptured appendix. Gangrene had already set in, and if they had not gotten him in when they did, he could have easily died. I have not talked to Wendy yet, but I am sure she and Rick went through all the emotions I have described. Disbelief at first that this is actually happening, fear, worry, grief, helplessness, guilt — the emotions lead to tremendous stress, and the stress leads to exhaustion. Praise God, little Dima is going to be just fine, but I am sure it will take Wendy and Rick just as long to recover from this ordeal as it will Dima!
We got a phone call yesterday from Ecuador that our nine year old granddaughter Melissa had been injured and was in surgery. I’ve been dreading a phone call like that, hearing that one of our children or grandchildren had been hurt or was seriously ill and we were so far away that we could not go to them. Praise the Lord, though, it turned out to be only a badly broken wrist, and although the recovery may be long and painful, she will recover very nicely in the end.
Both of these heart-wrenching events this week will be short-lived and in a few months they will simply be distant memories. For the parent of a severely handicapped or chronically ill child, though, the battle goes on – and on and on. For the parent of a terminally ill child, or even the bereaved parent, it can be a nightmare that seems to have no end.
The Bible tells of a man named Jairus who came to Jesus when his twelve year old daughter was lying at death’s door. “And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him…While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.” (Mark 5:22-24; 35-42)
Jairus was terrified. His daughter was his only child. He was a ruler in the synagogue, and you may recall, those men down at the synagogue weren’t too happy with Jesus – in fact, they were seeking a way to get rid of Him. Jairus, though, believed in Jesus. He may have kept that belief a secret from the other rulers, but still, when it came to his child’s life, he did not hesitate to confess his belief. What were Jesus words to Jairus? “Be not afraid, only believe.”
Jairus had already realized who Jesus was, and trusted Him enough to come to Him in his moment of great need, but still he was afraid. Jesus recognized that Jairus would naturally be afraid. He did not reprimand him for that fear, but instead was telling him to set aside that fear and cling to his belief in Christ.
In this account of Jairus’ daughter, and again in the story of the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-53), we see parents who are torn apart with grief and fear at the illness of a child, and whose children did, in fact, die. Again, in the story of Lazarus of Bethany we see a beloved brother who is sick and dies. (John 11:1-45) In each of these cases that daughter, son and brother is raised from the dead because of the belief of those who loved them, and also as Jesus said in John 11:4 “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” These were miracles that would shine a light on Who Jesus really was for the people of that day and show them that truly, He was the Son of God.
We still see miracles of God these days even though Jesus no longer walks this earth. Children, and adults, too, recover from their deathbeds, or are even miraculously resuscitated. Why does not God answer our prayers every time, when a believer calls unto Him for the miraculous healing of a loved one? The simple answer is, I don’t know. I do know, though, that He is working in the lives of that one and all those around him or her in His own way and for His own purpose. I do know that He loves us with an everlasting love and hears those prayers and always answers – although sometimes the answer is no. I do know that He knows what is best for us and that He is in control.