A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my sister’s living room with all of my siblings, extended siblings (Tommy and Kelly), and their significant others. The only two missing were my Nate who was back in Seattle and our Robby who left us too soon (oh how he is dearly missed). We posed the question that is any of us could go back to the life and times of Jesus what would we have wanted to witness in person.
Now before you go thinking we are so spiritual and sit around speaking of only theological things, I want you to know we were sitting down for an intentional bible study, one we had postponed for three consecutive weeks because of San Francisco Giant’s games. Ha! We love Jesus and we love Giant’s baseball.
Anyways, I have felt for years like a rare combination of Job and the bleeding woman. I’m not claiming to be any biblical hero but bits of my story can be seen in both of these accounts. So, naturally I would like to have witnessed in person when the bleeding women reached out and touched the cloak of Jesus.
If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. These are the words this woman must have thought as she travelled her long 30 mile journey to meet Jesus in Capernaum. During those 12 years of relentless bleeding, she was considered unclean and an outcast in society. Yet, what remained healthy in her life was her hope and her faith. She never gave up. Despite going home after every appointment with a failed remedy that only put her in debt or expensive prescriptions that wouldn’t even touch the pain, she never gave up. And when she heard the news that this Jesus guy had healed a man of various diseases, she let her faith carry her those 30 long miles, to find Jesus in that crowd.
I’ve been there. I am that bleeding woman. I’ve dealt with prolonged illness and stubborn medical conditions that amidst countless medical treatments and prescriptions don’t go away. I’ve felt like an outcast as my friends have been promoted in their jobs, bought homes, and had babies. Meanwhile I’ve been passed from specialist to specialist, been unable to hold down a job because of the pain, and experienced heartache and shattered dreams. I’ve been frustrated, embarrassed and laid sprawled, broken, and bruised across many a bathroom floor.
When the bleeding woman reached Capernaum she found Jesus in the crowd. It was busy. There were tons of people around. Maybe it resembled somewhat of a mosh pit. But when she got her chance she reached out and touched him. And she was immediately healed. And He immediately knew. He turned to ask His disciples who had touched him and they look at each other like he was crazy. Who wasn’t touching him? They were all being pushed and prodded. But Jesus knew and so did she. He wasn’t looking to accuse someone but to affirm that it had indeed happened and with the same faith that had allowed her to reach out in the first place she stepped forward. She “fell at his feet and trembling with fear told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:33) He looked at her with genuine care, told her that her faith had healed her, and to go and be well. Completely incredible if you ask me.
This coming year I will have been “bleeding “ for 19 years. And just like that bleeding woman I have yet to completely lose hope or faith. I will admit that there are days that I can only manage crawling from my bed to the couch or where I wonder if God still sees me down here in my unmanageable pain but seven years ago on my left wrist I tattooed the word hope on my wrist because I refuse to relinquish it. Around my house, the word is displayed in various places and my close friends and family know that it is my life theme. In general I am a lover of words and will cling to various words throughout different seasons of life but I will always head back home to hope because through my faith it is hope that allows me to continue the battles placed before me.
In some ways, I’m not sure if God’s complete healing is supposed to be a part of my story. Perhaps, my un-healing and my faith and hope in the midst of it is what God wants me to use to bring him glory. But, what I wouldn’t give to touch his cloak. While I know that that is physically impossible it has become my prayer that I would experience His cloak on different levels during this current journey.
I close my eyes and pray that perhaps His cloak will meet me in the recovery room after surgery, when I am all alone, recently barren and broken, perhaps it will lay over me with assurance that I will get through this, that not all hope has been lost. I imagine a cloak that will wrap around Nate now and in the coming months as he catches my tears over broken dreams and broken hearts, as he nurses me back to health both physically and emotionally. As crazy as it may sound, I am hoping this cloak has got some bit of anti-anxiety up its sleeves on the long lonely days of recovery, when Nate is at work, and I’m in the deep throws of menopause, doing the ugly cry, just wishing I could take any pill, instead of the handful of hormones I will be prescribed that could send me to another world or another life. I take a deep breath and I ask Jesus to send me a cloak to cuddle up with that will let me mourn my unborn babies and heal my heart so that someday soon I am ready to love babies that grew in someone else’s tummy.
I know that this surgery will only address one of my health problems and is not even a guarantee to get rid of this awful disease but I know that Jesus is with me, even in those dark moments of pain when I think He has forgotten. I have yet to abandon hope and He has yet to abandon me. My 19 years of bleeding may turn into 20 and those may turn into 30 but with my faith I still have opportunities to touch his cloak. I just have to open my eyes and see them. Don’t we all? We may not live in the life and times of Jesus and physically be able to reach out and touch his clothes but He still shows up. Miracles still exist.
I do believe that, even if I can’t see it right now. So, tonight, this week, the months ahead…I’m going to pray…for you and for me….that we get opportunities to feel his cloak. Personally right now I want it to feel like a warm, cozy winter blanket….but more than that I want it to feel like peace, comfort, bandages, cool compresses, a true binding of brokenness and for my heart to feel joy again.
Oh if we could just touch his cloak…and yet I think we still can today, with gathered faith and prayers. And I also think we get the blessing to be a part of the cloaks he lays on all of us. I know that you have all been a part of our story by loving us praying, and sending your support. Thank you.