Summary: An amplified story of the woman with a haemorrage and how we too can be cured if we just reach out and touch Jesus.
Her bleeding began after the birth of her fourth child. That, of course, was normal. What was not normal was that it did not stop. That was 12 years ago.
Twelve years is a long time. It’s a long time even when life is good and the years slip gently by, but if you are poor, or ill, or lonely and each day is a trial, then 12 years seems like an eternity.
This woman had been suffering from haemorrhages for 12 long, lonely years. She knew that her husband was a good, just man, who loved her, but how could they continue to live as husband and wife when her very touch defiled him? Not only that - but the bed she lay in would be unclean, anything she sat on would be unclean, so that anyone touching them would have to wash their clothes and bathe and would be unclean until the evening. How could she even live in the same house when her very presence was a constant pollution?
Still her husband was a kind man. When he realised that the problem was not going to go away quickly, he found her a little house on the edge of the village to live in and made sure that she had food, clothing and all she needed to survive. Not only that, he paid for doctors in the hope of finding a cure so that they could return to a normal life.
So many doctors, so much money, so much promised and so little delivered! In fact she seemed to be worse off than before and, at last, when all the money for doctors was gone, so was all their hope of a cure, and all their hope of a normal future together.
She lived a solitary, lonely existence. It was bad enough to be parted from the husband she loved and who loved her, but to be separated from her children was a different kind of heartbreak altogether. Her husband could not look after 4 children by himself, especially when one was just a baby, so he sent them to live with his sister in the next village. She could no longer be involved in their day-to-day lives; she could no longer cuddle their hurts away; she could no longer kiss them goodnight, in fact, she seldom even saw them, and sometimes it felt that this was more than she could bear.
She had not been at the wedding last year when her eldest daughter got married. Now her daughter was expecting a baby – a new generation was coming into being - but that grandchild would grow up without having a proper chance to get to know his or her grandmother. Sometimes, when she lay down at night, in her desolation and despair, she hoped that she might not wake up again.
She searched her heart to find what sin she had committed to bring this dreadful, endless punishment on her. She did not delude herself that she was without sin, but hers were the usual, ordinary, run-of-the-mill sins. She used to listen to gossip and occasionally, when it was something particularly exciting, she couldn’t resist passing it on. She had sometimes thought badly of others without justification, but, thankfully, she had usually kept those thoughts to herself. She was prone to be quick to make judgements before she knew all the facts of the situation. She had at times been impatient with her husband and children – something she bitterly regretted now that she was no longer part of their day-to-day lives. How differently she might have acted had she known what the future held!
Surely other people committed sins just like these without enduring punishment like hers. Why did she have to endure this draining, degrading, defiling condition? She sometimes felt that blood loss left her drained of energy, but what did that matter when there was little enough to spend her energy on? She was depressed. She missed her life in the community and, of course, she missed most of all her life in the heart of her family.
In the early days friends would often come past her little house and speak to her through the window, sharing the day to day events of their lives with her, bringing to her their joys and sorrows, but as the years went by these visits became fewer and fewer, so she became more and more isolated.
She rarely left her house and when she did it was usually late at night or early in the morning when she was unlikely to meet anyone who could be polluted by her touch.
Then one day, when she was sitting by the window of her little house, she overheard people talking excitedly about a travelling preacher who was in the area. It seemed this man had a reputation not only for the wisdom and compassion of his teaching, but also for his ability to heal seemingly impossible conditions. She heard of lepers made clean, the blind made to see, the deaf made to hear, the lame made to walk.