Scriptures: Mark 5:21-43
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Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Healing. There is no question in my mind that healing is a divine gift. Prayer. There is no question in my mind that prayer is the most direct communication God’s many children have to commune with their Maker. There are many kinds of healing. There are also many kinds of prayers. For me, and especially after reading today’s text, the troubling bit is when – and if – prayer and healing intersect for us, today. Can our prayers effect God’s healing?
In today’s story we have a story within a story. Both stories feature remarkable healings. In the first story, the leader of the local Synagogue has a twelve-year-old unnamed daughter in dire straights. So dire he thinks she will die. He begs Jesus repeatedly, “Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live.” Jesus is interrupted in his travel to do just that by an unnamed hemorrhaging woman. She believes in all her heart that just touching the hem of the garment of Jesus she will be healed. You heard the story just now so you know that both daughters are healed. Oh, how nice, Mark, you gave us a couple happy ending stories. The stories of Jesus and faith through rose-tinted glasses. But it doesn’t always happen that way, does it? I don’t know about you, but I can’t simply see the world always through rose-tinted glasses.
The thorny issue these stories bring up is the completely frustrating bit about our petitions for healing and how that interplays with disappointments in our life and our life of faith. The reality is, as commentator Michael L. Lindvall notes,
“Equally present to both pastor and parishioners is the shared awareness that some are healed and some are not. The synagogue leader’s daughter was raised, but other children die. A desperate woman plagued by years of illness was restored, but equally desperate men and women are not…pray as they may, congregation and pastor both know that all prayers are not answered as we pray them.”
So what, exactly, is the message for us here? On the surface, it is tempting to see personal prayers as some sort of transactional relationship with God; whether it’s as contemporary as, “Hey, God, I want … “ (fill in the blank) to “Almighty Savior, you know what it is to be in need; all I am asking is…” (fill in the blank).
However, I don’t think I can subscribe to that kind of prayer anymore; as much as I have even prayed, on occasion, for something as specific as healing in myself or in someone I love. In good conscious, I have to be honest and say, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Why?
Perhaps if we dive into a little more profound perspective, we might discover that “to ask something of God is to edge into deeper relationship with God. God’s mind may or may not be changed, but I – my mind and heart – may be.” Perhaps that is true of you as well.
I wonder if that may be one of the keys to Mark’s teaching with this story within a story. After all, the real question for contemporary hearers lies not in whether miracles did or still do occur, but how we are enabled to hold onto faith when miracles do not occur. If, however, we see such prayerful conversation with God about what matters most to us as a two-way street; that is, as an invitation into deeper relationship, then perhaps another dimension of true healing is “…peace and acceptance in the face of disappointment, and as awareness of the continuing presence of God” in our lives through all times and seasons of life; times of anger, sadness, and despair just as surely as times of anticipation, happiness, and joy; and in that is the beginning of faith.
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.
 Michael L. Lindvall, “Pastoral Perspective, Mark 5:21-43” in Feasting on the Word – Year B, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008). Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0
 Beverly Zink-Sawyer, “Homiletical Perspective, Mark 5:21-43” in Feasting on the Word – Year B, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008). Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0
Questions for Reflection:
How do you find the strength to claim God’s promises of healing and hope for yourself, and how do you empower others to do the same?