I have the pleasure and honor of preaching at a local church this Sunday. The Scripture reading is two stories in one, about a father with a deathly ill daughter and an older woman with a seemingly incurable ailment that had ruined her life. (This appears in three of the four Gospels, and you can read the story here if you are not familiar.)
As I am preparing my comments on the text, I am struck again by a few things that seem to apply universally, whatever our theology or opinion of the story.
One, whatever we are dealing with, we can probably count on a lot of the wrong attention. A little of the right attention, however, can change everything. The father and daughter had a lot of attention, probably extended family and neighbors, who had gathered to offer support. They probably meant well, but here they don’t seem to be very helpful and actually some are downright dismissive of the father’s attempts to save his daughter. The older woman had had plenty of medical attention, which only made her worse than before. Jesus, a calm presence, truly saw the woman and the father, and validated them. While we often do need practical help with issues we face, sometimes the most powerful difference comes when even one person really listens to us, sees us, validating our feelings and experience.
Two, we need hope. Hope – in this story in Jesus’ miraculous healing – was the catalyst for healing. Without hope, neither the father nor the woman would have reached out for help. Wholeness, physical or relational, would not have been restored. Hope begins the healing process, whether it is our own hope or the hope of someone else when we’ve lost ours, and keeps us moving forward, however slowly.
We don’t know the rest of the story, how things turned out later for the father, daughter, or woman. Legend has it that the woman later commissioned a statue of Jesus in gratitude, and I can only imagine the father told the story far and wide in his gratitude. Gratitude for lives restored.
You might have had days when you feel your life has been stolen – by events, by illness, by mistakes you’ve made. If you’ve been healing, you can probably pinpoint where that validation and hope made a difference. If you’re in that place, as Mr. Rogers said, then look for the helpers. Reach out to those in your life who validate your experience, who offer hope.
This is what therapists do – we validate your experience, and we hold hope, even when you can’t. If you need a helper, we’re here. Please reach out. You can contact us easily through our website or Facebook page.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash