She had been sick for years. She had seen every doctor in the area. She had tried every medicine, home remedy, etc. She had prayed for healing.
And healing had not come.
At first, everyone had compassion on her. But as time went on, their compassion turned to judgement. She had heard their whispers. They talked of how she must have committed an awful sin and was being punished for it. They talked about how if she would just confess her sin then her suffering would cease.
But she had. She had confessed every sin she could possibly think of. She had done everything she could and had spent every last penny. And yet she was still sick.
Family and friends had abandoned her. She had been forced to live on the outskirts of town so that no one else would catch her condition. She was an outcast. She was all alone. She had no one to provide for her needs so she would scour the fields after the workers had gone home, hoping to find enough scraps left behind to fill her empty stomach. She had learned to live with the ache of hunger, and the pain of her condition.
But what got her was the intense loneliness.
She never thought she would get used to the ache of seeing people move out of the way so they would not come near her. The pain of seeing them quickly look away so they would not have to look her in the eye.
One day she arrived at the field a little earlier than usual and overheard some workers talking. When she heard them speak of a miraculous healing, she hid so they would not notice her, and then strained to catch their words. They said there was a healer in town. They said he had caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk.
Dare she hope that maybe he could heal her?
It had been so long since she had allowed herself to hope. And yet . . .
The next day she gathered up her courage and went into town. She did her best to blend into the crowd so as not to cause attention. Luckily, everyone was so focused on this healer among them that they hardly noticed her. Her heart leaped with anxiety. She took a deep breath. She would just sneak up and touch his robe and quickly slip away. No one would ever even notice. She would be healed and then her days of shame would be behind her.
She had moved close enough to hear him now. He had such a sweet and tender voice. Almost there. Almost over. Just one more step, a quick touch, and then I can slip away and get out of here before the crowd realizes that an unclean woman has snuck in among them. She touched his robe and immediately felt healing enter her body. Her heart leaped within her! It had worked! Her years of pain and suffering were over! She was so excited! Now, to quickly slip away and then go show herself to the priest. But before she could turn away, she heard him gently say,
“Who touched me?”
And she froze.
How could he have known? There were so many people pushing in around him, and yet she knew deep in her soul that he was talking to her. And something about his voice drew her in. It wasn’t angry. It wasn’t full of judgement. It sounded like it was full of love and concern.
But then her thoughts went to the people in the crowd. If they knew what she had done would they hate her? Would they judge her? Would they scorn her for daring to walk among them?
“Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”
She realized that she could not stay hidden. She stepped toward him and fell to her knees. The crowd quieted down as she began to speak. Her voice trembled as she confessed what she had done. She spoke of how she had been sick for 12 long years and had been to every doctor and tried everything to cure her condition but nothing had worked. And then she said that upon touching his robe she had immediately felt healing enter her body and knew her condition had been cured. She finished speaking and waited anxiously for his response.
“Daughter,” . . .
The term of endearment he had used startled her and she quickly glanced up at him. And he didn’t look away.
Instead, He stared into her eyes with loving compassion.
“Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
(my fictional interpretation of Luke 8:43-48)
He could have just let her touch him and slip away unnoticed. But Jesus wasn’t just concerned with healing her physical body. He also cared about healing her heart and soul.
He noticed her. He saw her.
And then He called her out of her shame, her pain, and her loneliness.
He called her over to him. And because of that she told her story to a crowd of people that had most likely ostracized her. We don’t know if anyone believed because of her story. We don’t know if anyone apologized for the way they may have treated her. All we know is that from that day on her life was changed. And Jesus used her story to impact people then and around the world today.
Jesus could have just healed her, but he also wanted her to share her story. And I think he wants to do the same for us. I think he wants to call us out of our shame, our pain, and our loneliness. I think he wants to heal us with his loving compassion. But I don’t believe he wants us to stay there. I think he wants to call us out so we can share our story to the crowds that are around us. No matter how big or small that crowd may be.