Sunday, May 16, 2010
From "Blah" to "Blessed"
This blog entry is inspired by the story of the woman with the issue of blood, as found in the Gospels of Matthew (9:20-22), Mark (5:25-29), & Luke (8:43-48) You might want to refresh your memory by reading up before you read on.
I will admit that this blog is directed toward women, but I certainly hope that any of my male readers who check it out will be blessed also, and perhaps come out of this reading with more thought toward this story, that is probably hard for you to identify with. (But consider yourselves warned that this is a womanly topic ;)
Blah! :P That's how she must have felt. Imagine.... She had her period for twelve years. Let that sink in, in real terms ladies. Think about what it must have been like for women in the past to get thorough each month without modern conveniences. Now quadrupole that inconvenience and you have this woman's every day life FOR TWELVE YEARS. It was more than just the physical inconvenience also. Let's break it down a little:
As I already pointed out, she certainly must have felt BLAH. Cramps, bloating, headaches, and low iron. She was probably oh-so-tired all the time. She most likely had some pretty bad mood swings and terrible food cravings too. (and no chocolate anywhere!!!) Her breasts ached and felt heavy, and she had no proper bra to support them, so her back hurt too. She had no Midol, or Ibuprofen, no tampons or panty liners, no wet wipes, no shower, and no disposable tissue.
I know, when you think about it in detail, you feel even worse for her. But, there is more:
Socially, she was an outcast. According to the old law women were "Unclean" while they cycled, and had to perform a ceremonial cleansing after, each month to be considered "clean" again. While one was considered "unclean" they were forced, by law, outside of the city and a certain distance away from people all together. When they approached they had to shout out "unclean! unclean!" to inform others, so that they may be avoided. How humiliating.... While every woman went through this embarrassment once a month, she would have had to do it every day for twelve years. There would have been snickers and rumors as to what awful thing she had done to deserve this "punishment". Her friends and family would have gotten used to life without her around. They may have considered her an embarrassment and a disgrace. She could not visit them because anything she touched would also be considered unclean. She missed hugs and fellowship and meals with family. She didn't get to welcome nieces and nephews into the world or watch them grow. It would have seemed similar to as if she had simply moved away.
What about her love life? Well, scripture does not say if she was married or not, and If she was, I'm pretty sure that she would have had to live away from her husband according to law for this entire time. And let's face it ladies, even if that law weren't keeping her from him, she sure didn't feel sexy. Reread the above paragraph if you have any doubts there. So, even if she wasn't married, she probably still felt unattractive. She must have wondered if she would ever seem appealing to a man since she had probably grown to see herself as unclean and unattractive. An outcast. If marriage was something that she longed for, she must have wondered, "Will I ever become a wife?"
How about a mother? It is unclear how much the physicians in her time knew about fertility, but we know that the number of eggs that a woman is born with never increases. We also know that a woman sheds one egg with each cycle. My goodness, I wonder how young this woman was. She was within her childbearing years, but by all accounts would never become a mother herself because of her issue. To make matters worse, menopause was more quickly approaching, due to the frequency of the cycles. While the relief of that solution must have seemed welcoming, I'm sure that the thought of the infertility that would come with it brought much heartache as well.
Desperate. She was a fighter. She didn't give up. Her picture belongs on one of those billboards with the word "PERSEVERANCE" under it. She went to every doctor imaginable, no matter the price. She spent all she had, in fact. Sadly, the end result only left her suffering worse. And then one day.... He came into town.
She had, no doubt, heard about this man, rumored to be the Messiah. Scripture tells us that when she met Jesus the crowd surrounding Him was so large that He was pressed from all sides. So it is safe to say that all the buzz had been about this Miracle Man as He approached town. It would mean breaking the rules if she went to Him, but if what they were saying was true, the ends would justify the means. Perhaps she could hide in the crowd and no one would notice her because of the focus on Him. One thing is absolutely 100% clear: She was filled with faith that Jesus was the answer. At long last, she had found her answer, and nothing was going to keep her from it. He wouldn't have to make a big fuss, she could just touch His garment and it would be enough.
So, the woman took her unclean self among the people and joined the crowd. Can you imagine the scene in town? Picture the people pressing themselves into Jesus. All of them shouting out requests as He walked through the crowd. The disciples probably did their best the surround Him, but it did not keep the multitude away. The woman weaved in and out of people drawing closer and closer until she was FINALLY close enough. She touched his clothes. (Mark 5:28) Immediately she was healed. Just like that. After all she had gone though, after all she had suffered: It was all over. She was healed, and she knew it.
What happened next is astounding to me. Jesus stopped. He was busy and on His way to do more, but He stopped. He felt the power leave Him and He stopped to find the source. How many times did I read this scripture through the years and miss something magnificent?! I want to share this treasure with you. When He stopped, Jesus said, "Who touched me?". Ok friends, don't miss this... Jesus asked who, but obviously, He knew who. As I pointed out, He was being touched from all sides. When He walked through that crowd they were glued to Him like teenage girls would be to Robbert Pattinson today. Different motives maybe, but it would have been similar in appearance, nonetheless. Even the disciples were puzzled as to why was He asking who touched Him when He was being clobbered by so many. So friends, why DID Jesus do this? Why? Why draw public attention? Why separate her from the crowd? Well, this just my interpretation, but I feel pretty strongly about it. I think that that Jesus did it for her. For years she had been looked down upon, neglected, and isolated. Her worth must have seemed small to everyone, including herself....but not to Jesus. I think that another healing took place at that moment. Not a physical one this time, but a mental and spiritual one. This outcast had gotten the attention of the One that none of them could. Not only did He commend her for her faith publicly, but He addressed her by the tender and loving title of "daughter". Nowhere else in the gospels do we see this from Jesus. She was His very special girl, beautiful and worthy in His eyes. I can only imagine the respect that she had from those among her after this. It makes me smile to think of the complete difference that Jesus can make in a life in an instant.
Even as He was speaking, Jesus was pulled away to another urgent matter. Where does that leave the woman in the story? She has a new life. A second round, with better cards. Jesus could have just healed her very bad physical problem and that would have been more than enough for her, but Jesus overflowed Himself into all areas of her situation instead. He went above and beyond. She walked away....healed, more completely than she had even hoped.
I close with these thoughts for women. You are so beautiful to God. Allow His Spirit to overflow in your life and you will find that you then overflow that same Spirit in love to others. As the woman in the scripture knew, Jesus IS the answer. Don't be afraid to call Him "Abba" (Daddy) ladies. I believe that He will hold you close and call you Daughter if you let Him. :) After all, you are His very special girl.