Ever have a song jump our and grab you? Many of us have. Last summer I was listening to some of my favorite southern gospel when a song by KarenPeck and New River stopped me in my tracks. Who Touched Me gives the simple narrative of the woman who pushed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. The second verse tells all of us that we can have hope in Christ.
Listening to that song reawakened my heart to a call that I have felt often in my Christian walk, to encourage women. We can ALL encourage one another on a daily basis, but God & I have periodically discussed my longing to do more. His answer has mostly been to sit and listen and wait. That day, however the words starting flowing from my pen. It was time to step out and let God use my voice and remind my friends or maybe show for the first time how this nameless, hopeless woman in a tiny bit of scripture battled her fear and disappointment along with physical distress and was made whole by the only One who can heal. Jesus himself.
We meet our sister in both the book of Matthew chapter 9 and Luke chapter 8. We learn back in Matthew chapter 4 v 17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'”. He was traveling the country side, teaching about the Kingdom of God and healing those who came to him. Word was spreading. Crowds followed Him. Some followed because they believed He was the Messiah, but many others followed because they wanted to see what He would do next. They didn’t want to miss a miracle. So we arrive at Matthew 9:18-21
While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her and she shall live.
And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.
And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
I have read over those few verses so quickly so many times. I have even caught myself thinking if I would only try a little harder. But that is not the point here. The point is, she believed what she heard. Let’s look at what she was living through. There is not much detail here but with a little research I realized she was an outcast. Levitical law stated that a menstruating woman was unclean. (Leviticus 15:19-31) I don’t believe God’s intent was to belittle the woman, but to give her space for 7 days. Not a bad plan. This woman however, had a medical condition for 12 years. Despite the obvious difference in normal body function and a serious problem, humankind’s corruption of God’s law left her isolated, outcast and poor, (see Luke 8:43). If she were ever married, her husband could not even affectionately touch her with out being considered unclean. I have to wonder if people stayed away even thinking she was cursed or had some sort of “secret sin”.
Isolated, lonely, desperate, broken; have you ever been there? It really doesn’t matter how we got there. It may be a physical or mental ailment, or choices on our part that turned out to be wrong. Maybe we don’t even know what caused the circumstances we are in, we just know we are exhausted and the end of the rope is in sight. Those you considered close have given up and left and even the gentle souls who have stayed by your side do not have the answers. This is why the Holy Spirit put this woman’s story in the Bible. We see how she reacts to her circumstances in her darkest hour; we can see how her story applies to our lives. How did she hear of Jesus? Was she tiptoeing into the marketplace at the last hour to beg for some rotten food overhearing vendors discussing this man who performed miracles? Did she still have a loving friend who told her of this man who cast out demons and forgave sin and spoke in authority of God’s word? We don’t know. But what she did with the information she had we do know. She did not give up and wallow in self pity. She moved her dying body from her home and in her weakness pushed through crowds. She did not shout or beg or make a show. She most likely felt too unworthy. Not wanting to be seen for fear of chastisement she came up behind Jesus. She believed just touching his garment would heal her body. She just wanted to feel better. Let’s pick up in Luke 8:44
Came behind Him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with Him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched they?
And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately.
And He said unto her, daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Again, I can only speculate that her intention was only to be physically healed; however I do also think she believed with all her heart that Jesus could do it. It must have taken such great effort to get to Him it had to been more that a “last ditch effort”. She had already tried physicians that probably told that could clear this problem right up; they failed her. She had to fully put her trust in Jesus and no one else. What she gained because of that belief is the true miracle. Jesus, of course, called her out on purpose. Would she speak the truth or deny Him? Scared and trembling, still in that “unworthy” mindset she testified! She gave the unpleasant details and announced to all who could hear that Jesus was the only one who could heal her. At that point Jesus really performs the miracle. Think about His words. “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made they whole; go in peace.” He healed her soul. He acknowledged that her faith was real and she had put it in the right place and He can do so much more that heal are physical bodies that will rot anyways. He can heal our soul, He can call us into His family. And He can give us HIS peace.
I also do not want to miss the point here, that Jesus cared enough to stop what He was doing and minister to this woman. He cares. We mistakenly think if we are going through tough times that God does not care. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reach out to Him.
Wherever you are at in life, pursue Jesus. Do not be discouraged. Your wait may seem like forever, but it is in His timing. Look to His word for your peace and for examples of those who have gone before us and persevered. And if you are in that place of peace right now, look for those who need encouragement and need to hear about what Jesus desires to do for them.
James 5:1 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.