A “stiff upper lip,” as the British call it, so often masks the pain within. But sometimes God reaches inside. Let me tell you a story….On the streets of town one day, Jesus was mobbed by people bumping, jostling, elbowing one another in an attempt to get close to this famous teacher and miracle-worker. In the crowd was a middle-aged woman who suffered from chronic bleeding. Over the last dozen years she had gone to doctor after doctor, hoping that one of them could heal her. She’d spent all her savings, and in the end was no better, but getting worse. In our day she would have had a hysterectomy and been done with it, but in those days no one could help.On the outside she was a respectable woman. Inside she felt ashamed, alone, desperate. Why me? What’s the use? Is there any hope? But even still she hoped and yearned.
Of course, each of the people who crowded around Jesus that day had a need. For some it was family strife, for others a son or daughter who had gone astray. Some were struggling with debt, others had physical ailments. Outside they looked normal, but inside — when they took time to think about it — many of them were hurting, drifting, struggling, lost. Jesus spoke of them as “sheep without a shepherd.”
But on this particular day, the hemorrhaging woman, weak though she was, wouldn’t let others get between her and Jesus. She pushed and slid and shouldered her way until she was within reach. “If only I can touch the hem of his robe,” she thought, “I’ll be healed.” And so she reached out, and suddenly, what she had longed for these many years happened. The bleeding stopped. Inside she felt an unmistakable healing.
Abruptly, the crowd which had surged along with Jesus halted, because the Master himself had paused. He was looking around. As the murmuring hushed, you could hear him say, “Who touched me?”
“Everyone’s been touching you, Master,” answered one of his disciples. “With this many people, they can’t help but touch you.”
“Someone touched me,” Jesus repeated. “I felt power flow out of me.” He turned around, looking, searching, until his eyes met the healed woman’s, and she was suddenly very afraid. She fell down in front of him and poured out the whole painful story. Every hurt, every sorrow, every doubt. And then she looked up and said through tears of joy, “But now I’m healed!”
I can see Jesus looking tenderly at her saying, “Daughter, your faith in me has made you whole. When you go from this place, you will go in God’s peace and be healed from your disease.”
Her eyes weren’t the only ones shedding tears that day. Because in this woman — this fellow villager, this fellow sojourner — the townspeople saw their own struggles and inner loneliness, and heard those words for themselves: “Your faith in me has made you whole. Go in peace and be healed.”
If you feel desperation akin to that woman’s struggle, why don’t you reach out to Jesus in a simple prayer:
“Jesus, to be honest, sometimes I feel very lost inside. Very empty, very lonely. Please come to me and make me a whole person again. Show me the path, and I’ll walk it with you. Please, Jesus, please … because I believe that you don’t just love that woman only, but you love me, too. Amen.”