I’ve been thinking a lot about fathers and daughters lately. I guess that’s partly because my sweet wife lost her father this summer. He was an amazing man who loved and led his family well. I’ll never forget the privilege of watching and listening as his children circled his bed for the last time and prayed and thanked God for all their dad had meant to them. I remember thinking that what I was witnessing had to be every father’s dream come true. I know it would be for me. It was a fitting tribute to a life well-lived; a life invested in all the right things and all the right people. But at the same time I felt really sad for my wife; because I knew his passing would leave a void in her life—an absence. After all, a father’s presence in a girl’s life is such an important thing; meant to bring stability and security and safety and guidance...and so much more.
That made me start thinking about other daughters that experience that absence too. It must be a really tough thing to go through, especially the younger you are. I’m not sure how old the woman was in Mark 5:25-34; or whether she had a father in her life at that point or not. But I do know that in her time of greatest need, he didn’t seem to be around. Imagine if you were her. Here you have carried on a twelve year battle with this bleeding inside of you, that not only took a huge toll on your body, but also on your heart and soul. Not only did she have the physical effects to deal with, but she had the social and spiritual effects as well—she was unclean. She was damaged goods, a reject, a social and spiritual outcast. Who knows, maybe this was the reason her father was not around. Whatever the reason, she appears to be alone and desperate as she approaches Jesus in the crowded street. And to make matters worse, she had just watched a desperate father come to Jesus pleading and begging him to come heal his little girl. That just had to add to the pain. I mean here is a loving and noble father coming to Jesus fighting for the life of his twelve-year-old daughter; and here she is alone and desperate. Where was the father than would travel unlimited miles to fight and plead for her?
Obviously Jesus recognizes this. Because when he heals her, what does he call her? Daughter! Almost as if to say, “I know that there is an absence in your life. I know that you long for a loving father that will care for you and protect you and provide for you and fight for you. Well, don’t worry little one, because I am that Father. You are my beloved daughter.” Jesus becomes the father she always longed for. And because of that, the healing goes far deeper than her body and her bleeding, but it goes clear down to her heart and her soul. Jesus replaces the absence with a Presence…with the Presence…with His presence. And he will do the same for my sweet wife as well. Thanks be to God.