Thursday, 23 September 2010

(A Sick Woman)

     Luke tells this story. It begins with a crowd, full of expectation of what Jesus would do and say. And into the midst of this crowd runs a desperate father named Jairus. His only daughter, who was only about twelve year's old, was dying. Jesus responds, and follows Jairus through the streets. As He walks, I imagine they are walking at quite a pace. But the crowds are making it difficult, they are pressing about Him on all sides....
    ....I then read these words, 'And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.' These words make me pause. This woman had lived in isolation and shame because of her sickness. Her pain kept her in a place of devastating aloneness. What she suffered from was not acceptable to be around. Blood was unclean. She was dirty and unheal-able. For twelve years she was told (and no doubt told herself) again and again, 'You must remain in seclusion. You cannot be made well and whole. You cannot be free.'
The words and the silence, the shame and the disgrace, wearing down the last vestiges of her strength. 

     Then, somehow, she hears of this Man. This Miracle-Working Man, who has set people free time and time again. Perhaps it was the stories of the lepers (also excluded and isolated in their unacceptable pain), or maybe it was the blind beggar who was thrown out of the synagogue for defending Jesus' healing power. Whatever it was, it called to her downtrodden and seemingly faithless heart. It spoke of HOPE. And it was this Living Hope, this Word of Life, that drew her out of her isolation and depression. It called so firmly and overwhelmingly that she left her place of hidden shame and stepped outside. She broke the law. She went against the conventions of religion and society and showed herself, vulnerable in her sickness and pain. In a faith of desperation she steps out. 
    Not only does she step out, but she reaches out. She touches the very edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stops. Jesus stops. He, in a persistent and intentional voice asks, 'Who touched me?'. People denied it; His disciples questioned the sanity of His inquiry. But Jesus remained persistent, 'Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'
    It is then that this woman, trembling, steps forward again. She knew in this moment she couldn't go unnoticed (so great was her sickness, and how obvious was her healing!)....But how scared she was still. Imagine. This crowd must have been overwhelming to someone who had been in isolation for twelve years. With an irregularly beating heart, still reeling (and possibly still overwhelmed in her unbelievable healing), she came forward and fell at Jesus' feet. And then in an act of incredible bravery she tells, 'in the presence of all the people', why she had come out from her pain and touched Jesus' cloak.....and how she was healed. Then Jesus says some of the most beautiful words anyone can hear. He says, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.' He calls this woman, who to everyone else was a stranger to Him,....He calls her daughter and He imparts a peace into her heart that completes the healing. A peace she's never known before. The beauty and depth of these words overwhelms me.

    Sometimes I think we feel like what we struggle with is not acceptable. We tell ourselves, 'I should know better. I shouldn't have to struggle with this. Why is this affecting me?'....I know that in myself there's a constant dialogue. It speaks of a standard of perfection that I try to live up to. And when I constantly fall short, when the hidden pains and sicknesses of my heart surface, I feel guilty. Guilty that I (I of all people?) struggle. I should be over this, shouldn't I? I feel unheal-able.

    But oh what lies those words are! What poisonous, deadly words those are that we can choose to listen to in the solitary moments and times of waiting in our lives. So it is then in a desperate act of vulnerable faith that I must step out. I have heard whispers and stories of the Healer....that His hands are gentle and humble and able to heal. All the same, it's scary, it's hard to admit your sickness and brokenness.....But the abandonment of self in that moment enables the freedom and healing of Jesus to rush into my life. 

    Yet we sometimes can't stop at stepping out (of the boat, of the house,....), but we have to then reach out. Ask, seek, AND knock.  And then we have to step out again. Do you know what gives me the faith to step out, ask, and to be persistent, though? It's what happens right after this story. Right after this woman is healed, a man comes up to Jesus and Jairus to say, 'Your daughter is dead....don't bother the teacher anymore.' And do you know? Jesus goes anyway. He says, 'Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed'.  Jairus, having just seen a healing, decides to believe Jesus. And the daughter was raised from the dead. Jesus isn't 'bothered' by our sickness. He isn't 'bothered' in the matter of our healing. HE CARES. Oh how He cares.

    I don't pretend to know how healing works all the time, nor do I believe in a formula. But all I do know is this....I have caught a glimpse of this Man. This Miracle-Working, Word of Life, Living Hope....And He tells me to trust. He tells me to 'always pray and not give up' (Luke 18). He tells me that I will look back on this time and wonder, 'Why did I not trust and rest in You?' He longs to heal me, to bring me into freedom....Jesus? Help me to trust You.

'I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for Him."
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,
    to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.'
(Lamentations 3:19-26).


Gordon said...

You're beautiful.

gingerpresent said...

that was lovely. YOU are lovely.