Have you ever felt desperate and hopeless? Have you ever been faced with a situation in which you had no idea what to do? Have you ever reached a point at which you had exhausted all your options and had no one left to turn to for help? Have you ever felt utterly alone and abandoned?
If so, you will be able to identify with the two people whom Jesus encounters in today’s gospel.
The first is Jairus. He is a powerful and influential synagogue official. However, he finds himself powerless when his daughter becomes sick. All his money, power and connections are unable to make his daughter well. There is no doubt that he provided her with the best doctors and treatments available at the time. However, there was nothing more that he could do. Jairus probably was like many of the other religious leaders of his day who looked down on Jesus as a trouble making preacher from a small town. As an educated man, he probably was skeptical of the miracles that Jesus was said to perform. However, when faced with the death of his daughter, he had no choice. He had exhausted all his other options. Jesus was now his only hope.
The second person we encounter in the gospel today is the unnamed woman who was suffering from a hemorrhage. Saint Mark tells us that for twelve years she bled uncontrollably. We can only imagine the physical pain she suffered. Loss of blood would have left her feeling tired and weak. Also, people would have avoided her because contact with blood made a person ritually unclean and unable to worship in the temple. She would have suffered from loneliness and from the feeling that she had been abandoned by God. Saint Mark goes on to tell us that she had used up all her savings on doctors to cure her condition but it only got worse. Then Jesus comes to her town. He is surrounded by crowds of people who want to see Him, who also have pressing needs. She musters up all her strength to fight her way through the crowd so she can at least touch Him. She has no hope now but Jesus.
Both Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage had done all they could. However, they had run out of options and found themselves in desperate circumstances. Both had to overcome obstacles to reach Jesus. Jairus had to put aside his pride to ask Jesus for help and the woman had to put aside any embarrassment or shame she felt to work her way through the crowd. Yet both were motivated by faith that Jesus was now their only hope. And Jesus did not disappoint.
We have all experienced frustration, disappointment and desperation. We have all reached a point at which we did not know what to do next. We have all done our best only to see circumstances spin out of control. We have all faced problems which left us wondering what we could possibly do to make things better. At one point in our lives, we have all felt powerless.
Those are the times when we need to turn to Jesus. We may have to swallow our pride and acknowledge that we do not have all the answers. We may have to fight the crowd which tells us to give up. However, only Jesus offers us hope when we have hit rock bottom. Only He has the power to lift us up when we have fallen. He is the only one who loves us enough to give us exactly what we need when we need it most.
Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts can teach us something about hope. Every morning they wake up knowing that they are one bad decision away from ruining their lives. They know that they are powerless against their addictions. However, in their powerlessness they realize that they have to rely on God for strength. They have already tried relying on their own strength and willpower and have seen just how useless that is in the face of addiction. They have no choice but to turn to God. When they do, they find the hope that had been eluding them. They are able to live without fear knowing that, though they are helpless, God will carry them through. They no longer need to fear.
None of us wants to be in a situation in which we find ourselves helpless. None of us wants to be desperate. However, it is often unavoidable. We get sick or lose our jobs. The people we love and rely on move away or die. Accidents happen, tragedy strikes and we find ourselves overwhelmed with problems. However, the circumstances that threaten to destroy us can also turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us if we turn to Jesus. Jairus did not want his daughter to get sick and die, but is there any doubt that the most wonderful moment of his life was seeing Jesus raise his little girl from the dead? The woman with the hemorrhage must have asked God thousands of time why she had to suffer such an embarrassing ailment, but is there any doubt that her encounter with Jesus made all the frustration and pain worth it?
The same will be true for us if we turn to Jesus and entrust our lives to Him. Great things will happen. We may not experience the great miracles that Jairus and the woman did. However, we will find joy and peace in the midst of our difficulties. We will no longer feel desperate and powerless but will see circumstances around us begin to change. It could be that we provide inspiration to others in their struggles. Whatever may happen, we will find ourselves drawing strength from Jesus everyday, relying on His light in our darkness and trusting Him to lead us when we cannot find a way forward. That is the promise He makes to us if we will simply trust Him with our lives. No matter what may happen, He will not disappoint us.