No doubt you have noticed “Thank you Jesus” signs all around. Do you wonder exactly why the sign is in someone’s yard? What is the “Thank you” for?
In Mark’s gospel is the account of Jairus asking Jesus to heal his daughter, only to learn she has already died, so why bother him anymore, his servants say.
Of this text New Testament interpreter Halford Luccock says there was a finality about what the servants said. What could Jesus do now? But to Jesus, their report was not final, for he ignored what they said. The place that seemed to be a blank wall, a dead end, was a place from which Jesus would use the resources to meet the need at hand. Thus Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
That is a good word, but believe what? Believe that all our prayers will be answered, that COVID-19 will miraculously disappear, that every hurricane will dissipate without doing damage to people or property? In essence, that if we believe we will get what we want? Such has not been my experience nor yours, I imagine.
Says Barbara Brown Taylor, this story of Jairus is about who God is and how he acts through his Son Jesus to meet us where we are. In this case Jairus got what he begged for, the restoration of his daughter. Such is not necessarily the case for us. So, we are left with two choices: We can be afraid or we can believe that God through Jesus will be with us in whatever happens.
Fear, says Taylor, is a small cell with no air and no light. It is suffocating and dark with little it no hope. On the other hand, belief is very different. Envision it as a rope bridge over a gorge, (Think of the swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain) sturdy but swinging back and forth with light and fresh air all around. There is not much to hold on to, but it is the only way across. The choice is to believe in the bridge more than to believe in the gorge. For believers Jesus is the bridge.
Believing in Jesus will not get us everything we want or save us from harm, but it can cause us not to be afraid, as Jesus counseled, and to open ourselves to what he can do, even if it is not a fulfilling of our wants. And to believe that the God of hope is always coming to meet us from the other side of the “swinging bridge” that is life.
And yes, that’s reason enough to say “Thank you Jesus,” even if the reminder is in a yard sign.
Marion D. Lark is a retired Baptist minister and a resident of Henderson.