“And he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.'” (Mark 5:34 ESV).
As a father, a daddy, Jairus was in great distress. His twelve-year-old daughter, the joy of his life, was on her deathbed. Sickness had overwhelmed her body, and her body was losing the fight. As the synagogue's ruler, Jairus was a man of the community, and he had seen other families afflicted like this over the years, but now his own home was under siege. He was desperate. He knew not what to do. He had nothing to offer.
It was then that he heard of Jesus. A healer, a prophet, was roaming the region. Galilee was abuzz over his works and words.
Jairus sent for him. "Come to my house," he asked, "For my little girl is at the point of death. My daughter, she is dying. Please come." Jesus, pressed by the crowds, pushed through them to follow this hurting man to the epicenter of his hurt.
On the way, a woman with a secret malady pressed through the throng of people to get to Jesus. She thought to herself, If I touch even the hem of his garment, I will be healed.
For twelve years she had been afflicted. For as long as Jairus' daughter had lived, this woman had suffered. Desperate in her own right, she busted through the crowd and came to Christ and touched his clothes. Instantly, she could feel the power, and so could Jesus, and she was healed.
Jesus, sensing power release from him, stopped. "Who touched me?" he asked. No one came forward. The disciples, bewildered, said, "All these people are pressing up against you and you ask, 'Who touched me?'" But Jesus knew someone had come to him in faith. Someone had received a healing.
Finally, she came forward. The woman's secret healing became known. Jesus said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well."
At the same moment, from messengers, Jairus heard a different announcement. His daughter was not well, but worse, for she had died. But Jesus told him to believe. Christ had a plan for Jairus' little girl.
In a recent sermon at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Pastor Brian Brodersen made the point that Jairus needed to see this woman's healing and hear Jesus refer to her as "daughter" to bolster Jairus' own faith regarding his daughter. He then spoke on how modern believers need to bask in the stories of God's grace at work in others so that our faith and confidence in the Lord will increase. We need stories, and here are three ways he suggested we find them.
1. Bible Stories
Time and time again, God recorded the stories of his work amongst his people, partly as a way to bolster the faith of subsequent generations. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, people who lived their lives by faith, and their lives ought to motivate us to also walk in simple trust and belief in God (Hebrews 12:1-2). Their stories are for our edification and learning; they lived as examples for all of us (1 Corinthians 10:6).
When we read of God's provision for Hagar, we should trust God will provide for our needs. When we read of the way God worked all things in Joseph's life together for his great good, we should trust God more for his sovereign plan in our lives. When we read of his power to help bring Israel into the promised land, we should believe God more for his power to bring us into the best possible life if we walk with him. His faithfulness to prophets, priests, and kings helps us grow in our faith today. Their stories are meant to spur us on to greater trust in God. And the stories are not exclusively in the Old Testament either, for the New Testament gives great testimony to the faithfulness of God to his church.
2. Church History Stories
However, the stories of God's faithfulness are not confined to Scripture. The church has existed for almost two thousand years now, and many events in the lives of his people have born witness to his grace and mercy. Church history, though filled with some disturbing elements, is also full of God's faithfulness. The spread of the gospel, God's faithfulness during epochs of persecution, and tales of revival are often exceedingly helpful to us today. Not only are we edified through the stories of biblical figures, but people who lived according to the Bible. Biographies of great saints of distant or recent history are a great aid to our own faith, for they testify of God's work in the life of another. Reading or listening about church history can be a great way for a modern believer's faith to increase.
3. Fellow Believers' Stories
Additionally, we also need the stories of real flesh and blood human beings, not from the pages of scripture or history, but our own everyday lives. We need to hear other parents who saw the faithfulness of God to help them raise their kids. We need to hear the stories of those struggling through disability and sickness, how God stood with them through their trials and pains. We need to hear of how our pastors and leaders have watched the goodness and grace of God play out in their everyday existence. We need to hear how God faithfully stood with our fellow believers for decades. We need to hear how he grew the faith and confidence of younger believers through their tumultuous college years. We need to hear the testimony of how God stood with a same-sex-attracted believer who committed themselves to celibacy so they could obey God and give him glory with their lives. We need to hear the story of God's faithfulness to married couples who used to be terrible to one another, but who, through God's faithfulness and by surrendering to him, are now growing in their love for one another. We need to hear the stories of financial despair and bankruptcy, and how God met them in their financial misery to teach and provide and strengthen them. We need to hear the stories of pastors who preached the word and did not bend to society or culture, and how God blessed their faithful work to the very end. We need one another's stories of God's goodness and faithfulness. Since his mercies are new every morning, we must sing of those mercies.
For my part, I am trying to grow in my ability to collect, retain, and tell the stories of God's faithfulness. I know how, from the pulpit, pen, and personal interactions, stories of God's grace are an amazing way to edify the people in my life. I want to be a fountain of testimonies of God's grace but need his strength and help. Each category mentioned above is acquired in different ways. Reading of the entire Bible, consuming biographies and histories of the church, and engaging with modern believers is required if we're going to collect the stories. However, when we do, like Jairus, our faith is built up for what God will do in us.