Sisters: This Pain in My Side

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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)

I wasn’t expecting this to take 13 entries.

But here we are.

I sit in my writing spot – just a corner of the couch, nothing fancy – and occasionally press a hand to my side. My liver’s been acting up. Extra nausea, sharp stabs of pain. I can feel one of the hepatic hemangiomas, a tangled up ball of blood vessels. It’s hanging out just to the left of my ribs. I wince as I push too hard on a bit of scar tissue that was stretched earlier by some abdominal exercises. Strange how that stuff still hurts after so many years of surgery.

My body is ridiculous. I have to laugh about it. I have to shake my head at it.

Who gets liver disease without being an alcoholic or a drug addict? Seriously. Who does that?

Whose cholesterol numbers go up despite eating a non-fatty, plant-based diet?

What woman my age complains of aching joints?

Yes, I look forward to Eternity and a new body. I’d take it right now, in fact. But Jesus, He doesn’t seem to operate on my timetable. He has His own plans. And right now, His plan seems to be that I learn, each day, how to love and trust Him through this pain in my side. That I learn to hold tightly to His hand, despite no guarantee of relief this side of Heaven. That I learn to grit my teeth and to continue on, then, paradoxically, learn to cry and to rest.

Those who suffer have not been rejected by God. He is not angry with us. We are not great sinners in need of punishment. We are just people, like you. People who happen to have bodies that malfunction and break down at a faster rate than yours. Because yes, my friend, the day will come when you can’t do all that you want to do. Hardly do I wish that day on you. I pray that it is a long time in the coming. But it is there, marked on an unseen calendar, part of being the children of Adam and Eve.

Never forget that we who have been saved by Jesus are also His children. So when that day comes, you can walk through it, because He will give you the internal fortitude required. He will empower you. He will teach you how to be resilient.

We who arrived at that place before you did, we’ll be there for you. We’ll hold your hand. We’ll teach you how to navigate the confusing maze of doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and insurance regulations. We’ll share with you the slightly dark and somewhat twisted sense of humor required to cope. We’ll listen as you rage and hold you when you cry.

All we ask is that you do the same for us in return – right now.

Because that’s what family does.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Sisters: Daughter

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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)

Allow me to step onto my soapbox.

These words are misused, taken out of context, so often. Well, if you really had faith, you’d be healed. No. No. That’s not what happened. That’s not what Jesus said.

Consider:

On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. And the Lord’s power to heal was in Him.

Just then some men came, carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him.Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.

Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, </span><span class=”woj”>your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think to themselves: “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you thinking this in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – He told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Then everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God. And they were filled with awe and said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

– Luke 5:17-25 (CSB)

The miracle is never just in the physical healing. The point is never just in the restoration of the body. The faith is not just for renewal of joints and muscles.
This woman knew that Jesus was someone different. She knew that He was unlike any physician. Like the other women in Luke’s gospel, named and nameless, she gets it. She recognizes Who Jesus is long before the men do. I say this not to demean men, but rather because Luke is very deliberate in highlighting that it’s the unexpected people who immediately understand both the Person and the message of Jesus. As the only Gentile writer in all of Scripture, Luke knows what it is to be the outcast. His gospel sheds light on the universality of Jesus, how He came to save all who call upon Him in faith.

This woman calls upon Jesus. The words don’t leave her lips, but we see in her actions the desperate plea for salvation.

Jesus [called her forward] so that she would know <i>why</i> she was healed. When Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well” it showed the woman that it really wasn’t touching the clothing of Jesus that healed her. Instead, it was her faith in Jesus and what He could do for her. …

Jesus did it because He wanted to bless her in a special way. He called her “Daughter.” Jesus never called any other person by this name. Jesus wanted her to come forth and hear this special name of tenderness. When Jesus calls us forward, it is because He has something special to give us. Never forget that we who have been saved by Jesus are also His children. So when that day comes, you can walk through it, because He will give you the internal fortitude required. He will empower you. He will teach you how to be resilient.

David Guzik

He called her “daughter.” And she was daughter still when her body did what bodies do and returned to a state of decay.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile are probably tired of reading these words, but I’m going to write them again anyway: We live in a Genesis 3 world. Yes, we are Revelation 21 people, always looking forward to the hope of an eternity of completeness and perfection, in the presence of God. But that looking forward, it’s the “not yet” part of the Kingdom. The “already” part is lived out in a world that spins ever-faster into a state of chaos. We do not escape the chaos. We are not guaranteed trouble-free lives.

In short, there is no room for the health-and-wealth/prosperity not-gospel when we handle Scripture rightly.

If I may, get over it.

Get over the fact that you may never have a bursting bank account, a huge house, or a body that looks and does exactly what you want at all times. Get over expecting God to operate like a magical sky-genie, giving you everything you want, exactly when you want it. Get over abusing the words of the Bible, twisting them to fit your Westernized notions of what blessings are. Get over crushing the abused, the ill, and the marginalized under your smug sense of superiority because they suffer and you do not.

Blunt words, I know, but I say them to myself as much as I do you, because we all struggle with viewing others as less-than.

This woman’s faith in Jesus made her His daughter. That’s what Luke wants us to focus on. The healing is amazing. It’s wonderful. I thank God that she received relief. But the real miracle is her adoption, by grace, into His family.

That’s the real miracle for us, today.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Sisters: My Jesus

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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)

Lemme tell you about my Jesus.

He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lords. He is fully God and fully Man. He alone can save. He literally lived, died, and rose again. One day He will return. Until that day, He sends His Spirit out into the world, indwelling those who call upon His name and drawing those who do not into decision moments, clearly revealing Himself to them. He holds all of creation together. He is the power that sets the captive free. He is the comfort that soothes the brokenhearted. He is the grace for the chief of sinners.

My Jesus is strong, but tender. Has all authority, but longs to hold people close. Judges rightly, but takes no pleasure in the separation of anyone from Himself. Possesses a voice that booms like thunder, but also speaks in the quietest whisper. Exists outside of time, but operates within its scope. Eyes aflame and hair whiter than snow. Sits, because the work is finished. There is none like Him.

My Jesus is awesome.

People say I’m foolish and weak for believing. I don’t care, because I know my Jesus. I know what He has done for me. No, my body does not work right and probably won’t this side of Eternity. But my Jesus, He’s done something much greater. More important. In a moment, He justified me. He claimed me as His own. Saved me. Across a lifetime, however long or short it may be, He sanctifies me. Teaches me to live like He does. Transforms me into the person He wants me to be.

The reason I reach out to Jesus, the reason I touch Him?

Because I need Him. I am lost, I am nothing, without Him. I cannot function apart from Him.

He set me free, right when I took the breath for the cry meant only for His ears. Instantly. I did not recognize it, and sometimes still choose to rush back to my jail cell. But the door is open, never to be closed again, because no one can close what He has opened. Patiently, lovingly, He helps me to keep moving forward, even after I’ve gone backward. I do not deserve His grace and mercy, yet He continues to offer it. I am His beloved, His child, His daughter, His friend.

I love my Jesus. Not perfectly. Not even well at times. But love Him nonetheless. Because He first loved me.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Sisters: Trembling

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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)

It’s strange, to be sick. Almost as if your personality becomes fractured along with the bones and the organs. Part of you wants to talk about what you’re dealing with all the time, never pausing to take a breath. The other part doesn’t want to say a word, for fear of others’ accusatory questions and curious stares.

Stranger still, you get used to the strangeness. As much as I would love to have more energy, stop passing out randomly, get rid of the constant pain in my side, stop taking a handful of pills each night, and never deal with nausea again, it’s…normal. We humans have quite the capacity to accept, adapt, and adjust, if we choose. I’ve reached a point where I don’t like what I face each day, but I’m in the routine of it.

Familiarity.

When others read this passage, they wonder why she was afraid to come forward. Her actions make perfect sense to me. She’d been desperate for healing. She pushed her way through a crowd of people just to graze her fingertips against the hem of Jesus’ robe. She broke cultural expectations and norms. She was brave. Daring. Radical.

Her mind probably swirled with questions.

Was it real? Had this truly happened? Would it last?

Would Jesus be mad at her? Would He rebuke her? What would everyone in the crowd think of her?

The deepest one of all: What was she supposed to do now?

Even if you’ve never been truly sick a day in your life, you know that the misery to which you are accustomed is less frightening than the freedom to which you are not. You might complain and grumble, and even loathe the rut that you travel in, but at least you know what to expect. When something changes, especially if that something is a Someone and He’s beckoning you to climb out of that rut and go run across a wild, untamed field with Him, you try to hide. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t initially react this way; fear is rooted in our nature.

Jesus doesn’t just want to know who touched Him. He doesn’t just want to discuss the physical restoration. Now that He has pieced together her brokenness, she has to live in the newness. She is responsible to do something with what she’s been given.

Scary. So scary.

Such a beautiful portrait of the Savior’s love.

The poor patient owns her case, and the benefit she had received: When she saw that she was not hid, she came, and fell down before Him… The consideration of this, that we cannot be hid from Christ, should engage us to pour out our hearts before Him, and to show before Him all our sin and all our trouble.

Matthew Henry

Throughout the Gospels we see that acts of physical healing are meant to point to the inauguration of God’s Kingdom and the forgiveness of sin. Yes, she was healed, and that was important, but her body would betray her again one day. As she stepped forward, trembling, she stepped into the embrace of Christ, the One who would not abandon her in the anxiety of newness nor in the eventual return to decay and dust. She stepped into the crowd that day in desperation. She then steps forward, casting herself at His feet, in awe.

Her emotions, I feel them. I can place myself in this scene. In fact, this moment plays out now, in my living room, in 2019, despite the lack of physical health. My body spins toward its end faster than I’d like, but my God, He is faithful. That is what she learned in this moment. He is good and perfect and pure and true.

Even when He says “no” to whispered pleas for physical relief.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.