Time is a funny thing. While it is constant with every minute having sixty seconds and every hour sixty minutes, it can fly by or it can drag. My children share an electronic tablet and they each get half an hour to play games on it. For the one waiting, half an hour seems to be forever. However, for the one playing, it’s gone too fast.
In Mark 5 we see this comparison. The healing of the woman who had been unwell for twelve years comes as Jesus went to Jairus’ house. His twelve year old daughter was dying. He found out she had died after Jesus spoke with this unnamed woman. For Jairus, the twelve years he had had with his daughter felt incredibly short. For the woman who bleeding and spending all that she had trying to get better, it had been a long twelve years. Both were desperate for Jesus’ help. Both receive it.
This unnamed woman would have carried huge shame during her twelve years of bleeding. She was considered unclean – as a result she was not allowed to go into the temple. Other people would have avoided her, as anyone who touched her or anything she sat or lay on had to wash their clothes, bathe, and were still considered unclean until evening! (See Leviticus 15:19-27.) Can you imagine the isolation, loneliness and lack of human touch?
When she heard about Jesus she risked a lot to get close Him. She went into a crowd. If anyone recognized her she would be shouted at and forced to leave. However, the opportunity to be healed was worth the risk. She believed if she could just touch His clothes she’d be healed. She believed touching Him would make Him unclean. Perhaps she reasoned that if He didn’t know she touched Him it would be okay. She pushed through the large crowd. She moved close enough to touch Jesus, reached out, touched His cloak, and was immediately healed! She shrunk back through the crowd; She got what she came for.
But Jesus stopped. He knew. He’s looked for her. This woman who was used to being ignored came forward. She was afraid, fell at His feet and told Him everything. Jesus’ response was gentle and loving as He restored her publicly with the words, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Everyone knew she had been healed. Her shame was removed and replaced with lasting joy. Jesus provided so much more than she even hoped for. This is God’s lavish love!
Maybe you are thinking, “That was a long time ago, we don’t consider people unclean anymore. There is no shame in being unwell in our world.” But is that true? Are there illnesses that we would struggle to admit to having? For example, is it easier to say “I have a broken leg” than “I have a mental illness”? Christians who suffer from depression and other mental health issues can wrongly feel shame in ways we wouldn’t with physical health issues.
At times, we can be unwell but we don’t want to admit to being weak or needing help. We struggle with our pride. We’ve always given help to others and we get frustrated at the change in position.
Struggling with an illness that is hidden from most of the rest of the world can be a very isolating. We can even ask, “Does God care?” Yes, He does. You matter to God. We see the way God cares for us through this healing of the bleeding woman. Jesus sought this woman out. He saw and knew her. When the woman thought she would make Jesus unclean by touching Him, He instead made her clean by His power. Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, He made her clean.
This miracle is a foretaste of the new heaven and earth, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist anymore—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist. And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:4-5).
Sickness and death are a result of the fall; they impact everyone’s lives. While we cannot choose the trials that come our way, we can choose how we respond, and what or who we trust and fix our eyes upon.
“I want to stay in the habit of ‘glancing’ at my problems and ‘gazing’ at my Lord.” (Quote from Joni Eareckson Tada, who following a diving accident at 17 years old, became paralyzed from the shoulders down)
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