Sisters: The Better or the Bitter

Along the Way Graphic Template

Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB, emphasis mine)

Peter, I think, is all of us.

How could Jesus ask who touched Him? The crowd was thick. Nobody in the immediate vicinity was owning up to the act. They had places to go, people to see. I imagine Peter not exactly irritated, but definitely wondering why Jesus was wasting time with this question.

We wonder, too. Why does God do this? Why does He do that? Or why doesn’t He?

Because we don’t quite get it. We don’t quite understand that He is the One who sets the agenda.

Maybe that’s why there’s a tangible peace surrounding those saints who have walked with Jesus for many years. Their hair glitters, shot through with white threads. Their skin sags and wrinkles, evidence of laughter and tears. Their lives, filled with good and bad. The days long but the years so fast. The time they have left on earth winds down.

One such woman sits in my church’s second row every Sunday. Grandma Betty, we call her. She’s 90-something-years-old. She smiles brightly, a twinkle in her eye and mischief in her step. Loves to give hugs. Rocks out to the old hymns. She is utterly, completely herself, unapologetic and un-self conscious. Above all, Grandma Betty brings Jesus into the room with her. She is confident in His loving care.

I want to be like her.

Peter, traditionally thought to have been martyred around 64 A.D., didn’t live to a ripe old age, but he got to that place of tranquility. We see it begin by the lake, at breakfast time:

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer clothing around him (for he had taken it off) and plunged into the sea. …

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him. A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd my sheep,” He told him.

He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”He said, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love you.”

“Feed my sheep,” Jesus said.

– John 21:7, 15-17

Desperate was Peter to see Jesus again. Desperate, too, I think, to prove to his Master that the denials weren’t actually denials, as revealed in his grief. He got caught up in the fear of the moment, and he hated himself for that. He didn’t actually mean it. He really did love Jesus. He truly did want to follow and obey.

Brokenness comes between wondering why God does or doesn’t and being at peace. In the middle, when the pressure builds and the crowd presses in, we have a choice to make: the better or the bitter. His way or our way. Resting in the grace of mystery or reaching for a control that’s continually just beyond grasping.

Brokenness invites faith.

Peter is an example. He could have stayed lost in his shame. That’s what many of us choose to do. He could have remained stuck in his wondering. Many also choose this as well. Instead, he let Jesus change him. He took the Savior’s offered hand and allowed Him to rebuild, remold, reshape.

Isn’t the Bible beautiful? I’ve read this passage I don’t know how many times and I’ve never before considered Peter. But God, He doesn’t just impact one life. His work always touches the many. I don’t think it’s too far out there to believe that Peter thought back on this moment and shook his head, small smile playing across his face. Why did Jesus ask that question? Because it was part of her miracle, part of an interaction that Peter would never fully understand.

I want to be like Peter. I want the pain I feel to drive me from the boat of comfortable complacency and into the water, beating against the waves that would keep me from Jesus. Yes, my dear, my faith is real. I don’t need “more” of it in order to be healed. I know that my healing, whether in this life or the next, is found in the arms of Jesus, the same Lord who restored and strengthened Peter that long ago day.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

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