The first half of this piece includes part of a post I wrote years ago about a nameless woman at the end of her rope. Her affliction? A menstrual issue: non-stop bleeding.
I am captivated by her story once more having recently read through the books of Mathew, Mark and Luke. Perhaps her tremendous courage and faith will spark the same in me and you as I shine the spotlight on her again.
The post is called, Take Hold of His Robe and was written in November 2013 – two and a half years into my late husband Mike’s battle with ALS. It’s found in my book, Hold On, Let Go: Facing ALS with Courage and Hope.
Take Hold of His Robe paraphrased with a couple of quotes:
“A few weeks ago, feeling totally exhausted, completely drained, burnt out, and at the end of my rope, I called on God. There is power in His touch I thought, and if He would just reach down and touch me, I would have the strength to carry on. A tap on the shoulder, a pat on the back, a kick in the pants… any of the above would do.”
I continue to explain that almost instantly, after my voiceless shout-out to the Lord, I remembered another woman who was totally exhausted—completely drained, burnt out, and at the end of her rope. A woman I read about in the Gospels and then got to know more when I read Max Lucado’s book, He Still Moves Stones.
The story is short and it falls in the middle of a bigger story. Jesus was on His way to heal a very ill, twelve-year-old girl—the daughter of a prominent man in the community named Jairus. But this comes first:
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Mark 5:25-28
In his book, He Still Moves Stones, Max Lucado paints a very vivid picture of this nameless woman who was at the end of her rope. He educates his readers, explaining that the situation would have been very difficult for any woman at any time in history, but nothing could be worse for a Jewish woman. She was considered unclean. She couldn’t touch or be touched by her husband. She couldn’t do household chores. She couldn’t enter the temple.
She would have been socially ostracized, possibly friendless … helpless … isolated … desperate. Then comes a glimmer of hope—Jesus! I imagine her courage would have barely outweighed her fear. But with no other options, she takes a chance and risks it all. Had she been recognized — big trouble! She pushes through the crowd anyway, reaches out, and touches His robe. Instantly she’s healed!
Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:29
It tells us that Jesus, realizing power had left Him, asks His disciples who touched Him. A touch of desperate faith must have felt different from a mob of bodies pressing against Him. He was urgently needed elsewhere and could have just kept going, but I guess He wanted to give this anonymous woman a voice and the opportunity to profess her faith publicly. When she did (it says with much fear and trembling), He extended this amazing blessing:
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
Below is how I end Take Hold of His Robe. I relate this story to my own situation…
“Occasionally I crash. Taking care of a man with ALS is a big job. It’s sometimes too big. Even though we have excellent help, I burn out. Though mentally, physically and emotionally spent, there is no calling in sick or taking time off. A couple of weeks ago, not able to even pray out loud, in my head and in my heart, I asked for a touch. And then this woman came to my mind and inspired me to reach out and touch Him. ‘Take hold of His robe,’ I have been repeating to myself since then… ‘Take hold of His robe!’”
I finished the piece with a few questions like these: Are you exhausted? Burnt out? At the end of your rope? Are you feeling helpless, hopeless, afraid, alone?… Take hold of His robe! When you draw near to Him, He draws near to you and He is faithful to meet you wherever you are, including the end of your rope.
After all these years, I still think the big lesson of this story is simple: have faith! Persevere in faith AND be courageous in your pursuit of Him. But there are many lessons. Here are a few I’ve been pondering:
>> Where doctors failed, Jesus prevailed:
“What is impossible for people, is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
>> Suffering produces perseverance:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…” Romans 5:3-4
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
>> He is empathetic, compassionate and merciful:
Jesus gave her His full attention even though He was on his way to someone else’s house. He was on an important mission to heal a 12-year-old girl, however He stopped to talk to this woman. The result of his delay was death. After his encounter with this woman, he gets word that Jairus’ daughter has died, and that he needn’t proceed. He did proceed. He went to her bedside and raised her back to life. He’s a personal, merciful God and responsive to anyone who reaches out to Him.
>> What I love most of all about this story is the LOVE:
Even though this woman had been rejected by people, she was accepted by Jesus. Even though everyone would have stayed clear of her, Jesus drew near to her. He took her shame and disgrace away and applauded her faith. He gave her a voice, restored her to her community and called her “daughter.” He made her whole and made her His own.
>> Just two more things worth mentioning:
God gives us a voice and is blessed when we use it to profess our faith and tell others of the wonders He has done for us. And, I think it’s interesting how Jesus doesn’t take credit for the healing (in this story and the other many stories of healing in the Bible). Instead He credits her faith.
This story doesn’t imply we will always be healed physically, but it does show us what it looks like to reach out to Jesus in our suffering, isolation and pain. It reveals that we are extravagantly loved, fully known, and made whole by Him.
Mike stated on more than one occasion that he was healed. He declared that whether he was freed of ALS here on Earth, or not, he would be free of it eventually. He embraced this truth: “Son, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
PS, I have a goal of writing more this year and have the idea of choosing a word or theme and writing about it at least once (maybe twice) a month (this month is “faith”). Click here to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on any posts. Thanks for following!
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