I had never felt so desperate.
My 12 year old daughter was dying.
The doctors had done all they could and the family had quietly began to gather.
Then I heard Jesus was back in town. I knew he was my only hope.
I forced my way through the crowds. Some people made way for me – they instantly knew why I was running to Jesus. Some of them knew me as the ruler of the synagogue and others just knew me as a desperate dad.
Still others resented my pushing through the crowd – they had their needs too – they had an equal right to meet with this miracle worker.
I didn’t care. I just pushed through to be with Jesus. Somehow I found myself at his feet, pleading with him to come to my house. He was busy. He had crowds around him. But he said yes.
My hope-ometer began to flicker back to life again as we headed in the direction of home.
Then Jesus stopped. I panicked. He stopped to talk. Did he not realise how life-and-death the situation was? Did he not understand, my daughter was dying!
Flooded with adrenaline and anxiety, everything around me a blur of conversation, my heartbeat became louder than the voices around me and I pictured my precious daughter lying there in her bed. Come on, Jesus! We have to go! What are you doing!?
I heard his voice,
“Daughter, your faith has healed you.”
Jesus had stopped to heal a woman who had been ill for 12 years. 12 years! That’s how old MY daughter is! Come on!
While Jesus was still speaking words of healing to this “daughter”, someone else came pushing through the crowds. They’d come from my house with the message I had dreaded:
“Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
It was in the following moments that I learned several valuable lessons about Jesus that actually make me grateful my daughter had died.
Lesson 1: Jesus has very little interest in human diagnosis.
Jesus responded to the death-announcement with these words:
“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
But she’s dead!
It doesn’t matter how dead something is, Jesus can still do a miracle. It could be your business, or a relationship situation or a sick family member. However bleak things are, Jesus’ response is, “Don’t be afraid.”
Lesson 2: Sometimes bad advice comes disguised as information.
I was told that my daughter was dead: Fact.
I was also told that it was pointless carrying on with Jesus: Opinion.
I learned in that moment to be careful how I listen to the voices around me, especially those bringing new information. Jesus had nothing to do with that advice to give up, but I believed it because at the time it sounded like the voice of authority. Here’s a guy who’s seen my dead daughter. Right now he knows more than I do. So I should take his advice, right? Wrong. Jesus’ voice had a different message. “She will be healed.”
Be careful who you listen to, and be careful how you listen.
Lesson 3: The negative voices don’t just go away – you have to evict them.
We got to the house and I was trembling. I wanted to rush to my daughter but I also wanted to watch Jesus to see what he was going to do. My wife was on her knees, weeping. Others all around were wailing and mourning. The atmosphere of death was an enveloping fog that I found myself becoming caught up in.
Then Jesus spoke:
“Stop wailing. She is not dead but asleep.”
Well they did stop wailing. But not out of obedience. Their mourning turned to scoffing, laughing at Jesus’ idea that my precious daughter was just sleeping. Er, Jesus I think we know the difference between sleeping and dying. Isn’t one where you do wake up and the other where you don’t? Yeah, last time I checked. Ha ha.
But they were soon silenced.
Lesson 4: Choose your friends carefully.
Jesus had some amazing disciples. But he only took three of them into this situation. I later learned that one of the remaining 9 would betray him and that they all had varying levels of faith. The three he took in with him were also the only ones there when he was transfigured and later he allowed only them to see him in his darkest moments at Gethsemane.
Jesus did not let anyone go in the house with him except these three.
I now realise the value of this strategy. In certain moments of my life I have learned to only let certain voices speak. This eliminates the confusion of the crowd but more importantly, by selecting an “inner circle” I have a ready made committee to turn to who I know trust Jesus like I now do, and will not speak out of turn.
Lesson 5: God is love.
Jesus lovingly took my precious daughter by the hand as if she was more a part of his family, not mine.
“My child, get up!”
I remembered moments ago how he had called the woman he had healed his daughter.
Now it was my daughter’s turn.
Without hesitation, my little girl, the baby I had cuddled, the daughter I had walked with and told stories to, the child I thought was dead, got up, as if, well as if she had just been sleeping.
Jesus had said she was only sleeping. Then, his words seemed ridiculous. Now, his words seemed more reliable than reality.
Jesus told us to give her something to eat. We could not believe it! But it was true.