She awoke something in me the day she was born. It wasn’t like having a son. I already had sons. But not a daughter. And the first time I saw her, something in me stirred. This primal protectiveness I’d never felt before swelled in me as I looked down at her sweet face. She was beautiful. The spitting image of her mother. A daughter. My one and only daughter.
At first we didn’t think all that much of it when she started to complain she felt unwell. Told her to rest. To drink some water. To keep quiet about it and stay out of the way. The last thing I needed was for people to start asking questions. Sickness in the family when you’re in my line of work definitely raises eyebrows. And provokes some pretty hefty questioning about your standing before God. We brushed it off for a bit.
But then she got worse. It was clear something was really wrong. How could this be? She was an angel, always had been. Was it my fault? Had I not been upholding the law? Had I offended the Lord? If so, how could I ever appease him?
Day after day after day, I prayed and fasted. We made offerings and wore sack cloth and sung psalms. We spent everything we could taking her to the very best doctors and giving her the most expensive medicine we could afford. Nothing worked. She continued to fade. How was this happening? And why her? Only 12 years old and already on her death bed. The thought of it broke me. What kind of a father can’t protect his own daughter? Can’t give her everything she needs?
I’d heard about Jesus of course. Everyone had. People were talking about him everywhere, especially in the synagogue. There were daily disputes about him. News had spread far and wide about his alleged miraculous healings. To be honest, I didn’t know exactly what to think about it all. I was still trying to piece it together. But the reality was, I was at the end of my rope. My daughter was dying, right there in front of my eyes. And I couldn’t save her. No one could.
I was a desperate man. My wife was hysterical with grief and could not be comforted. She seemed to wail day and night. Then it dawned on me. The only option we had left: Jesus. Without giving a moment’s thought to my job or to anyone, I ran through the streets and forced my way through the crowd and finally fell at his feet. Like a beggar, I pleaded with him to come and see her. And just like that, he agreed.
My heart was racing as I led him back through the town. Adrenaline had kicked into over drive. He’s coming. He’s actually coming! Then he stopped.
“Who touched me?” he said.
What did he mean? He was the centre of a mob, plenty of people must have touched him! A woman came forward, shy but full of joy. Said she’d been bleeding for a full 12 years, but now she was healed. What? The crowd cheered. Although annoyed at the interruption, it was hard not to get swept up in the commotion. It was amazing!
Just as I started to join in the round of applause, I saw one of my servants approaching. The look on his face stopped me in my tracks.
“Your daughter is dead”.
I couldn’t process what he said. All I could do was look around dazed at the roaring crowd who now seemed to move in slow motion. All I could hear was my heart beat thumping in my temples.
Before I could even register the man’s report, Jesus’ words interrupted me and pulled me back into reality.
“Don’t be afraid, just believe and she will be healed”.
What else could I do? The woman he’d healed was still standing in front of me. 12 years of bleeding, one for every year of my daughter’s life, now forgotten as she rejoiced in her new- found health. Of course I believed now. What other choice was there but to believe?
My throat tightened as we approached the house. Outside on the streets our family and friends cried and cried. I couldn’t let myself look at them, and quickly hurried into the house. There she was. Pale and still, her lips cracked and dry. I felt my heart sink to depths I never knew I had.
“She is not dead, but asleep” Jesus said.
Cruel. Clearly she was dead. Fool. Was he trying to rub it in? What was he thinking?
I moved closer to her still body and studied her features. Features just like her mother’s. With tears in my eyes, I held her hand and looked over to Jesus.
“My child, get up!” he declared.
Could he not sense the tone in the room? I was ready to ask him to leave, to let us grieve in peace, when suddenly her body moved and her eyes flickered opened. Could it be?!
COULD IT BE?!
I really have no words. I don’t know how he did it. All I know is that I’m glad he did.
After we fed her, he told us not to say anything to anyone.
But how in the world could we ever do that? Our lives would never be the same again.
By Grace Jones