12 Long Years: Just the Right Time
Quick . . . where were you 12 years ago, and what were you doing? If you're like most people, a lot has changed. In fact, you're probably not the same person you were back then, and that's likely a very good thing. I know it is for me!
A dozen years ago, of course, we were living in the year 2000.
- Government and business leaders had spent billions responding to a much-hyped computer bug that supposedly would cause airplanes to fall out of the sky.
- George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, winning the electoral college despite losing the popular vote.
- The September 11 attacks were right around the national corner, and, with them, controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Facebook, the ubiquitous social networking site, was still four years away.
I could go on, but you get the idea. The world has changed radically in the last 12 years. But in our spiritual lives, 12 years can seem like an eternity---especially if God seems distant.
Let me share with you an intriguing juxtaposition of two lives that came together after a dozen years of waiting for the Savior. Their stories can help as we sit in our own waiting rooms of life.
Mark's Gospel starts the story with Jesus and the disciples returning to the west side of the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus is a celebrity. While some have rejected him in Galilee, others throng around him, eager for a miracle or a message from the God who has suddenly come near. Somehow, Jairus---a leader of the local Jewish congregation---pushes through the crowd, humbly imploring Jesus to save his daughter before she dies. Jesus, who has spoken frequently in his ministry about the worth and dignity of children, offers no argument or excuse. He simply goes.
But not for long.
There was a woman who had endured a discharge of blood for 12 years, and who had suffered much under many physicians. She had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well" (Mark 5:25-28).
Jesus' urgent errand---and that of Jairus---is interrupted. Like Jairus, this woman's need is great, though less pressing. This woman has struggled with an ugly ailment for 12 long years. Like Jairus, she has pushed through the throng. And, like Jairus, she gets the Lord's attention---and even more.
Immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" His disciples responded, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked around to see who had done it. 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. Jesus said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease" (Mark 5:29-34).
Years of Agony
Imagine the scene. For the woman, this brief encounter with the wonder worker probably took no more than a few minutes---a small price to pay after a dozen years of agony, embarrassment, and spiritual searching. Suddenly the bleeding has stopped---completely. Having a son with hemophilia, this miracle gets my attention.
Yet the woman has received even more than physical healing, as important as that is. She has received spiritual healing. Her faith has connected with the Lord, and she can finally go in peace.
Now imagine you are Jairus. You don't mean to be rude, but you were first in line. Your daughter is dying. Doesn't the Lord know this, and can't he ask this intruder to wait? My daughter doesn't have 12 years to wait, but only minutes. Let's keep moving.
Then the dreaded word comes from Jairus's associates: "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" (v. 35b) The father's vision goes blank, his mind numb.
But before he can begin processing his grief, across the void he hears the impossible words, "Do not fear, only believe" (v. 36b). And, as impossible as it seems, Jairus, like the woman with the constant bleeding, does believe, and Jesus raises his daughter back to life (v. 37-43). Just like that. She is 12 years old.
Twelve years. The same length of time the woman suffered through her degrading malady and during which Jairus watched his daughter grow to the point of almost being lost. Each had radically different circumstances, dreams, and disappointments.
They were unalike in many ways. Despite their differences, however, both traveled the same 12-year road to Jesus. Their times were in his hands, and a loving result awaited at their destination.
The world has changed radically in the last 12 years and will probably do so again by 2024. We don't know what's coming, yet we can confidently face the future. Jesus knows what tragedies and triumphs await us, and we can trust him to extend his grace---for our good and for his glory---at just the right time.