I think most of us are familiar with the story of the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was healed (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:24-34.) I've always loved this story because of the example of faith that the woman showed and the compassion and comfort the Lord freely gave to the woman. I think there's more to learn from this short account, though.
What stands out to me is that this woman, who had been suffering with her affliction for twelve years, didn't just sit down and bemoan her situation and seek for sympathy from those around her. She must have been truly suffering to have spent all that she had and to have pursued healing from many physicians. (Think about the medical treatments in ancient times- it would have taken a lot of courage to keep going back!) I see this woman in my mind as someone strong and determined, a woman who wasn't going to let her affliction stop her, even if it cost her everything she had and all of her life to find a way to be healed.
I can imagine her excitement as she learned of a new healer in town, a man named Jesus, who was reported to have healed many, and even raised some from the dead. A woman who had tried so diligently to seek healing from the learned physicians of her time might have scoffed at the stories of a religious healer and continued to rely on the medical world to heal her, but she didn't. She had faith that not only could Jesus heal her, but He could do so even if she wasn't able to get a face to face meeting with Him. Just to touch the hem of His garment would be sufficient to heal with her faith. I wonder just what it took for this woman to find the opportunity to do even that. How far did she have to travel? How long had she waited patiently for Jesus to be in a place where she could see Him and get close to Him? How did she hold on to hope after twelve years of suffering? The more I think about her, the more impressed I am with her story.
This got me to thinking about how many of us have afflictions nowadays. Do we do everything in our power to seek healing? From whom do we seek treatment? Do we go to the source of all true healing? Do we truly want to be healed? I've met a few people who are so stuck in victim mode that healing would actually be a negative solution to them. They often moan and groan about their infirmities, regaling all within earshot about how bad they have it...but won't make any effort to seek true healing. Others I've known have sought medical advice and treatment but won't do more than rely on the pills that are prescribed- there's no change in behavior or desire to seek healing from a higher source. I look at these in contrast to the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment and can't help but pity them. Full and complete healing might not come to them in this life, but how sad when you've already given up hope and have decided that it's easier to complain than to actively seek solutions.
I think that we all have an affliction or two that we hold on to, whether for the sympathy it brings or because of the discomfort of trying to rid ourselves of it, and it's a courageous person who can make an honest and continued effort to get better. It takes a lot of strength to deal with an affliction for years and not give up. It takes a lot of faith to believe that you can be healed, and even more faith when healing doesn't come and it's obvious that the affliction will be a life-long one. I'm so grateful that this woman's account was included in the New Testament. I think it's a great lesson to all of us to keep persevering, to not give up, and to do whatever it takes to get close enough to the Savior to receive His love and healing.