"Your Daughter Is Dead"

Your daughter is dead.  

Could there be four worse words to hear? In all the factories of hell, has evil ever composed worse news?  

Your daughter is dead.  

Last month, I read two stories about parents who received that very news — a mom and a dad, separated by two millennia but united in shared grief. September Vaudrey’s story fills 280 pages in her book Colors Of Goodbye. Jairus’s story fills 23 verses in the Gospel of Mark. Both fill me with horror. September’s daughter was 19. Jabirus’s daughter was 12. My daughter is 12. I am aghast.  

Just the thought of losing Bethany this year is more than I can handle. I can’t imagine how hard it is for these parents. And I certainly can’t imagine the shock Jairus must have felt when he heard Jesus’ reaction to the world’s worst news. 

Don’t be afraid; just believe. 

Jairus must have been offended, appalled, pissed. Don’t be afraid? Just believe? Believe in what, exactly? Such unreasonable advice from Jesus. What kind of faith-healing, name-and-claim scheme is he running anyway? What’s next: a love offering? And yet, Jesus delivers. After he prolongs Jairus’s ordeal (one could even blame Jesus for the death in this story; he might have only healed a sickness if he hadn’t gotten sidetracked) he brings Jairus the best news he’ll ever receive.  

Your daughter is alive again. 

Jesus likes long odds. He wants to be believed in, even when doing so seems foolish, even when fear overwhelms us. If Jairus wasn’t supposed to be afraid, I can’t hold on to my little worries. Jesus wanted Jairus to face the death of his daughter and proclaim “What have I to fear?” I have to face the same question and shut my trap.