She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. Luke 8:44
One of the biggest problems we face when suffering seems endless is that we give up hope. Because nothing has changed we believe nothing can change and nothing ever will change.
But some people find a way to keep moving forward. We can learn from them. Look at the woman who was isolated because of her suffering.
She has been bleeding for 12 years. That is bad enough to endure, but on top of that the law says women are unclean while they bleed and until 7 days after the bleeding has stopped. She must keep separate from others to avoid making them unclean too. But she seldom manages 7 bleed-free days. And so the law makes her suffering worse.
She has no tampons or disposable pads with wings. No FaceTime, Facebook or texting. No iron tablets to top up her haemoglobin.
This woman is suffering, lonely and exhausted. Healers take her money but nothing changes. She has good reason to slip into hopelessness and helplessness.
But she doesn’t.
Jesus approaches and a crowd gathers. He is different from other healers. People tell of his teaching and his miracles and his curious band of helpers – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna. These women were truly mad and diseased until they met Jesus. He not only healed them, he gave them a new purpose in life. Jesus honours women.
The woman pushes through the crowd and touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak. Immediately she knows her bleeding is healed and Jesus knows that someone has touched him. He asks who touched him. Her shame, disobedience and defiance are exposed.
Trembling, she tells Jesus why she touched him.
I never noticed that part of the story before. She tells her story and Jesus listens. I wonder how much she tells him? Yes, she will tell of her suffering and isolation. She will also tell Jesus what she heard about him and why she wanted to touch him. Perhaps she will mention how his attitude to women gives her courage.
Jesus hears more than the detail of her story. He hears what she does not say and he understands her heart. She is a woman who knows that her life has value; that she contributes to the lives of others; that life is a precious gift and can be lived well.
Most of all Jesus sees her trust in him. As she reaches out to him to make her life better, he looks on her with the love of a father and says “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
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A prayer: Thank you, Jesus, that you know us and you love us. You see behind the outer shell of our lives to our deepest longings. Help us to reach out to you, believing that you can bring healing and peace. Amen