As we follow the story of David in our Old Testament reading, this week we come to David’s eulogy over Saul and Jonathan. “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of battle!” David laments. Saul, the first king over Israel, whom God has now rejected and whom David will replace as king, is given due homage in David’s lamentation. Saul’s son Jonathan, David’s great and much loved friend, had sworn his allegiance to David, and David grieves at his loss. David’s eulogy reminds us that death—of individuals, of structures, of hopes—is an inevitable part of God’s vast unfolding plan. Mourning the loss of cherished dreams and much-loved friends and leaders is a necessary element of following in the way God leads us. In ways we cannot completely comprehend or articulate, such mourning is part of our renewal.
The Psalm appointed for this week carries on this theme. De profundis, “out of the depths” of loss and remorse the Psalmist cries out to God. Intent on being heard, the Psalmist is confident in the Lord’s hearing and mercy. Confident of forgiveness, he writes, “I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”
This confidence in renewal and new life through God’s mercy is carried out vividly in our gospel lesson from Mark. Within the account of Jesus’ raising from the dead of Jairus’ little daughter is inserted the incident of the woman suffering for twelve years from hemorrhages. This woman, despairing and destitute, heard about Jesus and was confident that simply by touching his clothes she would be made well. She made her way through the press of the crowd around Jesus and touched him. She was healed immediately. Jesus felt “that power had gone forth from him,” and he turned to find the one who had touched him. As the woman fell before him in “fear and trembling,” Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” After this, Jesus went on to Jairus’ house, where he was told the little girl had died. “Do not fear, only believe,” Jesus told the people gathered there. He touched the girl’s hand, told her to get up, and she did! Mark’s account of these miracles is not intended to lead us to expect such immediate remedies to our individual sufferings and losses. Rather, it is intended to show God’s power to bring new life to those who trust, have faith, are confident in the renewal that happens through Jesus.
These summer days are bringing us frightening news from places close to home and far away—the shootings in a Charleston church, terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in Europe and beyond. Such horrors can lead us to fear and despair. The expression of our faith this Sunday recalls us to our confidence in God’s mercy, and we are reminded of the way of Jesus that we follow—through life and death to resurrection and new life.