On the surface you may be asking why these two stories are intertwined and what the meaning of these stories is. But the story of the daughter of Jairus and the bleeding woman are about what it takes to have faith. In life, it is hard to not become cynical about the world around us. In life, it is hard to remain hopeful and optimistic sometimes. There are times in everyone’s life when doubts, society, and unanswered prayers lead us to question the presence of God.
When I was in my first year of seminary, I developed stomach ulcers. But it took nearly 2 years to get a diagnosis. The only thing I knew was that I was very sick and I was losing an alarming amount of weight. I was constantly in pain day and night. I couldn’t concentrate on my studies. I couldn’t sleep at night. I remember just how hot my skin was to the touch over the area. I couldn’t keep most foods down. I was quickly becoming malnourished. Yet the doctors argued about a diagnosis. They didn’t know what was wrong with me. They sent me to gallbladder specialists all over Connecticut. But everywhere I went my gallbladder was the healthiest they had seen.
I look at pictures of that time and I looked like the walking dead. I had black circles under my eyes. Extra small sized clothes just hung off my body. I needed to wear sweaters all year long because I couldn’t get warm. There was something seriously wrong. My parents were scared. Bill, my then boyfriend, was constantly checking on me and trying to give me as much food as I could handle. Finally, near the end of the second year, the doctors decided to try sending me to a gastroenterologist. That doctor immediately in one check-up was able to diagnose the ulcers that were plaguing me and to begin treatment.
But in that in between time, I felt like a leper. I was unable to socialize much. I was always sick. Some people whispered of eat disorders. Others were afraid that what I had was contagious. I felt like an outsider at meals because I couldn’t eat. I felt left out of social circles. And to be honest, I struggled with having such strenuous eating restrictions at 23 years old. In those moments, I constantly prayed to God. I asked for healing. I asked for a miracle. But his response was silent for a long time. My faith at times faltered in my fears of cancer or something worse. My faith was not as strong as I needed it to be. My faith was not like the woman with the hemorrhaging. My faith was more like the family of Jairus. Everything in my life was pointing to something terrible.
But healing came to me. I no longer have ulcers. God’s healing came through the hands of some very capable doctors and specialists. There was relief for me. The woman with hemorrhaging suffered terribly in her life. She would have ostracized for 12 years at that point. She was considered to be ritually unclean and was thus shunned by society and religion. Her desperation is obvious because she spent every last dime she had searching for a cure to no avail. She would have been responsible for remaining in the shadows being careful not to accidently brush up against another person. It was believed that if she touched another person or even their clothes then she would make them ritualistically unclean as well.
But here, her desperation, her faith, and her hope were so strong that she pushed through a crowd just to touch Jesus’ clothes. She risked defiling everyone she touched in the crowded streets and defiling Jesus, a holy man, just because she knew for certain that if she could be healed of her ailment, then Jesus would be the person to do it. She believed. Some people have faith that strong. But this is not the case with all people. Sometimes we need reminding that God is with us. Sometimes we need reminding that there is in fact a purpose and a plan.
Jairus came to Jesus because whatever his daughter suffered from was unable to be healed by all the physicians in Judah. He came to Jesus as a last resort just as the woman with the hemorrhages. He hoped that Jesus would perform his healing on his daughter as he had for so many other people. Yet when told that his daughter had died, he lost all hope. His faith no longer could hold up in the face of such a permanent ending. So Jesus overhearing the conversation spoke the words that entitle this sermon. Christ said, “Do not fear, only believe”. These are the words I came across in my seminary studies that built me up when my faith was faltering. These are the words that gave hope back to a man who had lost all hope.
These are the words that can offer you hope when your faith begins to waver knowing that Christ always backs up his words with deeds. Believe in the graciousness of our God. Believe in the love of Christ. Believe that our God has compassion for our very human existence and all the struggles that come with it. Believe and keep yourself open to the ways in which God will answer your prayers of desperation. He will not let us suffer forever. And he always answers, in one way or another. We just need to be open to his words, to his presence. Gary Rudz, a 21st century author, wrote, “No one ever sees or hears a miracle when they are talking over it”.
Go forth and have faith in God. Have faith in the love and presence of the holy in your lives and in our community. Know that when you pray, God hears you and patiently wait as our Psalmist from this morning had. Patiently wait open to all the ways that God reaches out to offer comfort, guidance, and miracles in our lives. Do not allow for life to beat down your faith. Take comfort in Christ’s words and actions which remind us that he is with us and as long as he is with us we need not live by fear or despair but we can live into our faith even more fully with each day as we patiently await his words and actions.
 Mark 5: 36, RSV.
 Gary Rudz, 21st century author.
(Based on Psalm 130 and Mark 5: 21-43)