Ever Wonder What To do if God or Jesus Doesn’t Show up to Help?

What do you do when it looks like God or Jesus hasn’t shown up after all when you pray repeatedly, seek repeatedly and ask for help repeatedly?

Perhaps you’ve been praying earnestly for something – and the situation has apparently started to get better, only for things to suddenly take a turn for the worse.

Or maybe you’ve had a powerful encounter with the Lord in some way – but then just afterwards, “real life” raises its ugly head and hits you in a particularly brutal way.

As we continue our journey through Mark’s Gospel, we find two individuals grappling with harsh realities such as these.

The first person is a religious leader. We’re even told his name, Jairus (5:22), reminding us he’s a real man, with a real life – and a real problem: his 12-year-old daughter is seriously ill. Jairus throws himself at Jesus’ feet, pleads for help – and must have been both relieved and excited when Jesus agreed to accompany him home.

Related image


And then – disaster. Jesus gets distracted on the way! Another urgent pastoral need presents itself (we’ll come to that in a minute) – and Jesus stops off to help. While that situation is unfolding, messengers come and tell Jairus: “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” Why indeed: Jesus has turned out to be not so helpful after all. Just for a moment, God seemed to be acting; but now it turns out the situation is hopeless.

Meanwhile, what about that pastoral interruption? It was “a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years,” we’re told (v26). Let’s pause for a moment and reflect: during those 12 years, it’s more than likely she cried out to God for help, seemingly without result. Where were you 12 years ago, and what were you doing? It’s a long time in anyone’s life – especially if prayers appear unanswered.

You most likely know (and you can read it in Mark 5) that the woman with haemorrhages is healed as she touches Jesus’ cloak. And, amazingly, the 12-year-old girl is raised from death – an incident so remarkable Jesus’ original Aramaic words (“Talitha koum” v41) seared themselves into the memories of those who witnessed it.

All this reminds us that:

(1) Delay is a deliberate part of God’s dealings with us. See it throughout Scripture: Jesus hears his friend Lazarus is gravely ill – but waits a couple of days before going to him, during which time he dies (John 11v6). A woman cries out to Jesus for help – but initially he just blanks her completely (Matthew 15v23).

Delays seem to be a way God stretches our character and brings greater glory for his name. It’s painful at the time, because we can’t see the outcome and have to grow in faith – which is perhaps exactly the point.

(2) Death is not the final word. Ultimately these incidents remind us of Jesus’ authority over sickness and death. That doesn’t mean he automatically always heals us or stops us dying; he doesn’t. But it means that in life, in delay, in disaster and even in death, Jesus can be trusted.

(3) Faith is the antidote to fear. Jesus’ words to Jairus are Jesus’ words to us too: “Do not fear, only believe.” As Donald English says: “If Jesus remains with you, there is no ground for fear. Trust the person, not the circumstances.” God can be trusted.

-Eliz Gold

Related image