When the patterns suddenly appear so clearly before you, the wonder of it can take your breath away. The moment of stepping back and suddenly seeing. Recognizing!
And wondering: Why this? Why specifically so?
I had read the story of Jairus many times before, how his twelve year old daughter lay dying, how he begged Jesus to come lay His hands on her. And how Jesus went. But then … this story in parentheses: a desperate woman touching His seam. A woman who had been suffering from a bleeding disorder for twelve years. And she was healed.
It was only a year or two ago that reading it revealed the pattern I had never seen before. A pattern, no doubt, that others had been aware of.
Jesus goes to heal a twelve year old girl, and on the way there the courage and desperation of a woman who had been suffering for twelve years writes another story of healing. When Jairus’ daughter had been born, that was the year this woman had first become aware of the hemorrhaging that wouldn’t stop. Life bleeding away. Hope whispering away.
Little preteen girl and older woman, linked by twelve years. Linked by His healing grace, flowing freely, even when His seam is touched in secret.
This morning the significance of TWELVE strikes me hard once more, knocking breath from me in that moment of recognition.
I read about the other British news, hidden away under all the Olympic fanfare: Tia Sharp, missing from her grandmother’s house for a week before being found, murdered. Twelve years old. Life snuffed out by the grandmother’s boyfriend, if police suspicions are correct.
Twelve years old.
She was born the year the Kursk sank. Breathed her first the same year those sailors breathed their last in the dark. And breathed her last only twelve years later.
It seems so dark, this pattern of twelve. But its darkness is tempered by its connection to that earlier pattern. Where a twelve year old girl was brought back to life. Where the bleeding away of hope was stopped by a touch of faith.
But these modern events mark lives cut short, you say, where those in the Bible mark lives extended. True, in a sense. But Jairus’ daughter and the bleeding woman had to finally die, just as every human being in this world has to.
The difference is this: JESUS. Through Him, they were both given hope. They were touched by grace. One touched Him. One was touched by Him. Their souls were forever changed. Because of HIM, because of HIS sacrifice, their passing from this world wasn’t the end. And because of that, I believe this strange, modern pattern of twelve runs true as well. Because of Jesus, there is hope.
‘No need to despair,’ Dimitriy Kolesnikov wrote in his final note to his wife and the world. He begs us to look more intimately, to look past appearances, to there where hope runs deep, deeper than the Kursk lay.
So I look past appearances in Tia Sharp’s death as well. To there where hope flies high, higher, much higher than the loft where her body was found.
Because it is not up to us to prescribe how long human life in this world is supposed to be. Such decisions lie outside our power. What lies within our power, though, what lies within us, is this: The ability to live life fully. Being aware of how fragile and how fleeting it is, to make it count. No matter how many days are given to us here and now. Not knowing when our earthly end is set, makes it all the more important: To make it count. To live life beautifully. To touch lives with hope and sweetness and love. To spread HIS tenderness wherever we walk.
He did this with the twelve He chose to teach and prepare. So that they might go out again, and teach and prepare. We are here to complete that circle He started. Part of the pattern of twelve, which in the end writes this: