She waited years to be healed, to have a different life.
12 years. 12 long years.
Jesus was on his way to heal a little girl who was 12 years old. “Coincidentally,” this woman had an illness for 12 years. I’ve heard some pastors say that it may have been a female problem, a menstrual issue – this “discharge of blood.” If so, this woman would have been unable to have a child. Barren. Infertile. Considered a curse in those days.
For 12 years.
This past August, Tom & I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. 12 years with no baby, no pregnancy, no miscarriage. More than 144 months of hoping, wondering, praying, then nothing. This lady suffered the same and more – the agony and unpleasantness of the bleeding, the ostracism from society. She was barred from worshiping at the temple and prevented from being touched (without making the other person “unclean”). Imagine 12 years with not even a hug from a friend.
So I empathize with this woman. I can understand some of her loneliness and pain. However, after 12 years I find myself putting my hope away, tucking it in a little box and putting it up on a shelf. Better not to hope for something that obviously isn’t happening, right? Save myself the pain. Yet her hope did not die. It propelled her out into a society that would pull away from her if they knew of her disease. Where, if she saw someone who did know her, they would most likely shout, “Unclean!” to warn others away.
Hope drove her forward.
Physicians failed to heal her, but Jesus was the key to her healing. Touching him, even just the edge of his coat, would be enough. Hand outstretched, rough linen ran through her fingers. Whole. She knew immediately that healing had occurred.
He knew it, too. “Who touched me?”
Would he be angry? No. Those eyes held too much kindness and love.
“Who touched me?”
Could she hide in the crowd? There was no longer anything to be ashamed of. Somewhat timidly, she stepped forward.
“Daughter.” A name of belonging. Of promise. Of hope.
“Your faith has made you well.” Future. Community. Family.
After her healing, Jesus continued on to heal the 12 year old girl. Both woman and girl were equally precious in his eyes and worthy of his healing. We don’t know if she went on to have children or not. For us, her story ends here.
I, too, am called Daughter. God has promised me eternal belonging in his family. As Jeremiah puts it, he has plans to give me a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). What does that future hold? God only knows. The pain of not holding my own child in my arms he can heal. The emptiness he can heal. The wound, which gapes when I see another woman whose arms are full, he can close. Whether or not I ever have a child of my own, still I have hope. Hope in the future that God has for me regardless.
Do you find yourself losing hope? What can you do today to hold onto hope?
One of my high school friend’s recently bared her heart and hurt for ABC News. If you want to read more about infertility and the struggles some women face, please read the article here.