Have you been in a bad situation where you see no hope of things getting better? You reach out to grab whatever help is out there. You’ve tried everything, but things just get worse. Many people have to live with debilitating chronic illness. That’s hard enough for anyone and can be isolating, especially if the condition causes others to shun you. Last month, in Get Up and Live I wrote in this ‘Women in the Gospels’ series about the daughter of Jairus. Jesus’ journey to Jairus’ dying daughter was delayed by a desperate woman who’d heard about Jesus. She’d suffered from haemorrhages for 12 years. This might have been continuous menstruation or bleeding from anywhere in her body. The 3 gospels that tell the story don’t give details of the illness, but do tell us she had
“endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.”
Her chronic condition meant she was ritually ‘unclean’ according to the religious laws. Until healed and ritually cleansed she wasn’t allowed to mix in society or worship in the synagogue. She couldn’t have sex with her husband or even hugs and kisses. It’s more than likely that he would have divorced her. Having spent all her money and doctors, none of whose medicines worked, she was probably destitute. No wonder she was desperate. She’d heard about Jesus’ reputation but she did not dare to approach him publically. That would be too shameful for her and for him. Anyone touching her would be understood to be ritually unclean for 7 days. And Jesus was walking with a synagogue president who would want to see the rules kept, especially as he hoped Jesus would heal his daughter. So the sick woman came up behind Jesus in the crowd, hoping not to be noticed, but in her desperation reached out and grabbed the fringe of his outer garment. Her hope and faith said,
“If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”
And she was, far beyond what she expected. Her bleeding stopped. Jesus stopped and turned round, making her identify herself to him. She fell before him in fear and told him the whole truth. Jesus didn’t accuse her of making him unclean. He addressed her as ‘daughter’, so bringing her back into the community from which she’d been isolated. He told her to “go in peace” and be healed. Her healing acts as a sign that Jesus came to bring not just individual private wholeness but to restore relationships and community.
You can read this story in one or all these places in the gospels: Matthew 9: 20-22: Mark 5: 25-34: Luke 8: 43-48. Pam’s post about this story in Sick and Tired is well worth reading, especially if you are struggling with not being healed and not understanding why.
Questions for Reflection
Who in your community is shunned by others? Why? What isolates you? What healing is needed for you or your family/community? How could you reach out to Jesus for yourself or for others? What if you or the person you pray for is not healed?