I was a senior in high school when my 14-year-old sister was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a hard time for our family. Mom spent weeks with my sister at Kansas University Medical Center, three hours away, while Dad continued to work. Our grandma stayed at our house to make dinner and keep up with the laundry, trying for some normalcy in the midst of the chaos.
A year and a half later, my sister died from pneumonia because of her weakened immune system from the leukemia. What love and support my parents received from the doctors and nurses during those long months! What love and support we received back home from our church family!
We were members of Bethany Lutheran Church, but our pastor had taken a call to a new congregation and had already moved. Who would do the funeral service? Friends of my parents recommended Pastor John from another Lutheran church in our city.
Pastor John didn’t know our family. Pastor John didn’t know my sister, but Pastor John was a parent who understood our loss, and he was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. Pastor John came to our home and spent time listening to our stories, learning about my sister, her faith, and the faith of my parents.
I don’t remember a lot about the day of the funeral, but I have always remembered Pastor John’s words during the service — “Fear not, only believe!” Later, I learned the Bible story in Mark 5:36b from where those words came. It was the story of a man named Jairus, his faith, and the trust he had in Jesus.
Those words, “Fear not, only believe,” spoke deep into my heart and changed my life forever. I became a more faith-filled child of God. I was able to trust Him in the midst of all situations, good or bad, and there have been many of both in my life. That doesn’t mean that I never have doubts or fears. In spite of frustrations, I have always felt a peace deep inside, knowing that God has every situation in His capable hands. My response as His precious daughter is to fear not and just believe.
Pastor John became a very close friend of my parents. Several years ago, I saw Pastor John and I had the opportunity to remind him of that day so long ago. I was able to tell him that his words, inspired by God’s Word, had set the course for my life. Fear not; only believe; God is in control!
Read the story of Jairus and his daughter in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, beginning at verse 21. There is another woman, unrelated to Jairus, included in this story. Her actions also showed faith.
Do you have a Scripture verse or two that give you strength when life is difficult?
Has a pastor or other mentor been a strong guiding influence in your life? Contact him/her and acknowledge that blessing.
Heavenly Father, how wonderful it is to know that You are the God of love and peace, that You are there to guide and support us during the hard times, the good times, and the great times. Thank You for the pastors You place in our lives to teach us from Your Scriptures the lessons that seem so simple but have so much impact. May we continue to grow in faith as we study Your Word, finding those precious nuggets of wisdom that You have placed there, like “Do not fear, only believe.” In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.