Tomorrow Sophie and I will go to Columbus for her official speech evaluation. I anticipate that she will be diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, something I have written about before. This diagnosis, in a way, looms over me, and in another, means nothing at all. Our struggle is unchanged; my child is unchanged. But it is a reality check. We have a long road ahead. Sophie’s “speech delay” will now be a “speech disorder.” Her childhood will be different. And I am fearful.
There’s a story from the book of Mark, early in Jesus’ ministry, of a man named Jairus who was a ruler in the synagogue. His daughter was very sick, on her deathbed. This is one of those stories that I don’t think came alive to me until I became a mother. The thought of my child on her deathbed is overwhelming. (It’s not something I think that I should dwell on. But any mother knows, those fears dart in and out of our minds more often than we’d like to admit.) So Jairus comes to Jesus and asks him to come touch his daughter and heal her. Jesus is on his way to heal her when the woman subject to bleeding for 12 years crosses his path. He takes just enough time with this woman, who desperately wants to touch his robes to be healed of her ailment, that the young girl dies. One of Jairus’ servants meets them on their way and says that his daughter is dead. I can only imagine the agony that Jairus must have felt in that moment. He just wasn’t fast enough. He was her daddy, and it was his job to protect her, but he couldn’t get Jesus there fast enough. This is surely and intense moment of crisis for Jairus. His heart is must be in a thousand pieces at this moment. He is, no doubt, immobilized by fear and grief.
There is much in this world that I want to protect my children from. As Sophie faces a CAS diagnosis, I do have fears about the struggles she will endure. I fear that she won’t have any friends. I fear other children will make fun of her. I fear that her little heart will be broken. I fear that I won’t be able to connect with her, to understand and help her through these things because she can’t even tell me what she feels. I fear that the enemy will try to damage her heart through this fallen aspect of her physical being. And I feel so helpless, because I know that there’s so much I won’t be able to protect her from.
I think if we are honest, we all have fears about what the future holds. No matter what our stage in life may be, there are always fears. Our enemy always tries to immobilize our hearts by locking them up in our fears. As I was reading this story of Jairus a few days ago, I was just blown away by Jesus’ response to the news of Jairus’ daughter’s death.
He says: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Every part of my fearful heart loves these words. All those fears that plague me, all the what-ifs of life, all of them still when I hear Jesus’ words to Jairus. Because I know that he would say the same thing to me even now in the midst of my circumstances. Maybe I don’t have to protect Sophie from everything. Maybe I can just believe in Jesus and place her in his loving hands. Whatever our moment of crisis is, I believe that Jesus is there, telling us not to be afraid, asking us to just believe in him.
Child can’t talk? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Facing an illness? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Left without a spouse? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
In financial ruin? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Lost a loved one? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Jesus has power beyond anything we can understand. And his scope of sight extends so much further than ours. What looks bad to me just now, I can believe that Jesus sees in the grand scheme. He has the eternal perspective that we are so quick to lose here on this earth. Because Jairus’ daughter was allowed to die, Jesus had the opportunity to raise her back to life, displaying exponentially more glory in her healing. In the same way, if our fears become reality, Jesus is there, ready to display his power and glory if we seek him. And we will see it in ways we never would have expected, ways we never would have been privileged to experience without our struggles. Even in the midst of all the uncertainty we now face in sweet Sophie’s life, I hear Jesus whisper, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”