At the end of the masterful television series “30 Rock,” which I recently enjoyed in binge-fashion, several story lines come together. Events in actor Tina Fey’s life happened also in her character Liz Lemon’s life and vice versa. Events in Liz Lemon’s life at work happened in her home life.
Stories, stories, stories, all intertwined, layered, connected. Like Russian dolls nested within each other. Matryoshka dolls.
In Mark’s story about the healing of Jairus’ daughter, we encounter two stories, one embedded within the other.
Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “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.” So he went with him.
We start out with the story of Jairus’ coming to Jesus to save his daughter’s life. And we end with her healing. Bracketed within this story, we have the telling of the woman with the hemorrhage, whose faith was so strong, she believed that if she could just touch Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed. With “30 Rock,” it was a fun way to end a long running series that had through satire revealed much to us about ourselves, our culture, our country. But what about Mark’s story? What does it tell us, show us, to have these two stories encapsulated in this way?
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead.
Why trouble the teacher any further?”
It’s easy, isn’t it, to criticize these people for not having sufficient faith in Jesus’ powers of healing. But what about us? Do we always believe everything of God, as God has told us we can?
Sometimes when I pray for healing – whether for myself or for others — I sense the enormity of what I’m asking God to do. It’s as if I’m afraid that the illness or the problem is too big for God. Boiled down to its essence, it’s really my questioning whether God can handle it, make it better, take care of it. Jesus’ response, however, to those who had given up on Jairus’ daughter being healed is the same as his response to us: “Do not fear, only believe.” Again and again in the gospels, we hear these words: “Fear not; it is I.” And it is those words to which we can cling when we’re wondering if our concerns are more than God can handle.
As we pray for the people of South Carolina and other areas recovering from flooding; as we pray for those killed every day in war and confrontation; as we pray for those killed and injured in Oregon’s Umpqua Community College shooting; as we pray for the soul of Kelly Gissendaner executed in Georgia, we can learn to fear not. As we pray for others in our lives; as we pray for ourselves; as we pray for the world, we can learn to fear not.
And with God’s help, we can stare down our fears, doubts, questionings and only believe as we, too, reach out to touch the cloak of Jesus.