And he said to her, “Daughter… “ Mark 5:34
Forrest Gump is the life story of a mentally challenged man (Tom Hanks), who accomplishes the incredible with his simple reasoning and persistence.
In one scene, Forrest and his childhood friend Jenny are walking down an old gravel road shaded by hardwood trees. Jenny carries her sandals, and the walk seems pleasant until they happen upon an abandoned, weather-worn house. The sight is horrifying to Jenny. It is her childhood home, a place where Jenny had been abused by her alcoholic father.
Forrest sees the pain etched on Jenny’s face as she walks ahead of him toward the old, abandoned house. Suddenly, Jenny throws her shoes at the house and then begins picking up rocks and furiously throwing them against the house. Years of pent-up anger are unleashed. When nothing is left to throw at the house, Jenny falls to the ground crying. Forrest sits down in the muddy driveway beside her, and says, “Sometimes, I guess, there just aren’t enough rocks.”
I am not telling you something new when I say that there are probably some folks reading this who would like to throw a few rocks. Maybe not at the house that they grew up in and felt pain, maybe they would like to throw a few rocks at cancer they just found out about. Maybe a rock at dissolving relationships that no one knows about. Maybe a rock at depression. Maybe a rock at the pain that can’t even be named.
In Jesus’ day, there was no condition more debilitating and humiliating than this hemorrhage from which she suffered. It was some sort of chronic menstrual disorder. It affected her in many ways. It affected her marriage. She couldn’t sleep with her own husband. She couldn’t bear children. Also, ceremonially everything she touched was unclean. She couldn’t prepare meals, wash a dish, and she couldn’t wash clothes.
She must have experienced chronic fatigue. Always weak and tired. She couldn’t go into the Temple and worship. For 12 years this went on. As if that weren’t enough. Mark tells us that she went to many doctors. Some of you can relate to that. Going from doctor to doctor and finding no relief. Finances dwindling. I’m sure she was broke. And instead of getting better, she was getting worse. In the end, all she had was hope and a prayer.
But in the story that Mark tells, Jesus calls her “daughter.”
I wonder how long it had been since any term of endearment had been spoken to her. How long had it been since she had someone speak low to her? We know she had not shared her bed with her husband for 12 years. Here the God of the Universe calls her “daughter”.
What name would you long to be called? If you could pick your own term of endearment, what would it be?
Some time ago, a pastor from another state sent me an email containing what he said he would say about me at my funeral. When I got the email and saw what it was about, this could be good or it could hurt very badly.
I know it is weird, but I’d like to share with you what he sent me.
I had never given much thought to caring for my soul…. Until my soul was already in trouble. That is when, in the Lord’s merciful providence, I met Joe. We met at the Annual Meeting of the Northwest Baptist Convention several years back. Going into that convention meeting, I was hurting. Our family was grieving the tragic loss of my son’s best friend…. My wife had been diagnosed with a life-threatening health condition (in fact, as Joe and I were meeting, she was in the hotel room, so sick from her latest round of chemo that she could barely move). Going into that meeting, I had no idea what Soul Care was…. I just knew I was hurting, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
In our first meeting, I knew that, at that moment…. I mattered to Joe. My pain and my problems were met with a listening ear and genuine concern. We talked some. At times, I tried to talk, and the words wouldn’t come out. I cried some. He listened. He shared a poem with me (typical Joe, right?) But the thing that really stuck with me….
As we were finishing up, Joe wanted to pray for me…. But it wasn’t the prayer that stuck with me…. As he began to pray, he paused for just a moment….. a brief silence with a deep exhale…. And in the pause before the prayer…. I felt rest. I felt comfort. I felt renewed hope. I don’t remember the prayer…. But I remember the pause. In the pause, my soul rested and was refilled.
As I think about Joe’s life…. His legacy…. I think about the beauty of the pause. There is serenity in stopping for just a moment to breathe…. To consider the weight of a moment or a feeling. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God”. For me…. That is the power of the pause. In the stillness, my soul is filled once more. In the stillness of the pause, my grief and sorrow find comfort. In the stillness of the pause, my joy in the Lord is restored.
He was the pastor of the pause.
I’ve been a preacher since 1978 and I’ve taken great pride in having the right words for the right moment. I’ve written a book and this blog—words matter to me. Words are the medium that I use to paint pictures and convey faith, hope, and love—or so I thought.
But to be called “The Pastor of the Pause” really touched my soul. In other words, God spoke to this brother through what I didn’t say.
One of the best things ever said to me: The Pastor of the Pause.
What name would you love to hear from your living Lord?
“He said to her, ‘Daughter. . . ‘ “
The healing in this woman’s body paled in comparison to the wholeness that came to her soul as Jesus in a soft, low, and tender voice called her daughter. If you are very quiet—paused—you might just hear Him call your name.
Then maybe you can drop your rocks.