Summary: Suffering is God's way of making us stronger and suffering forces us to depend on Him.
Life is full of setbacks. Did you hear about the milk cow that tried to jump over the barbed wire fence? It was an udder disaster. Did you hear about the guy who fell into a furniture upholstery machine? He is fully recovered. Did you hear about the butcher who accidentally backed into his meat grinder? He got a little behind in his work.
Okay, seriously, did you hear about the woman who had been sick for twelve years? She spent all her money on doctors to find a cure, but she was still sick. It’s a true story and we’re going to read about her. This passage contains two miracles. It begins with an important man begging Jesus to come heal his dying daughter. But on the way to that miracle, another miracle broke out.
Mark 5:21-34. When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”
So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”
Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ “But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
There are many classical paintings of this scene; but an American artist, Stephen Gjertson, has painted my favorite. He captures the moment when this pale, emaciated woman crawls through the crowd and grabs the prayer shawl that Jesus wore. She has a desperate look of hope on her face as she risks it all with a touch of faith.
There are four truths that we can take away from this miracle of Jesus.
I. SUFFERING IS A PART OF LIFE—BUT JESUS GIVES US HOPE
Back in the olden days, before 24/7 news channels and breaking news streaming to our digital devices, we usually only got the news from two sources—a daily newspaper, and the nightly news. We live in an age now where we have instant access to anything bad that happens around the world. And it is the nature of the news to report the bad things that happen.
I heard about a man who came home from work one evening. He walked into the kitchen to find his stay-at-home wife who took care of their three preschoolers looking terribly flustered and upset. He could tell she was about to deliver some bad news. He held up his hand and said, “Honey, I’ve had a bad day at work. Nothing went right, and I can tell that you have more bad news. But whatever you do, please don’t give me any bad news. Give me some good news.”
His wife looked at him and said, “Okay. You have three children, and today two of them DIDN’T fall out of a tree and break their arms.”
That’s why I love the Bible. While the world is full of bad news, the Word of God is full of good news. In this incident we find a woman who was suffering on many levels. She was suffering physically from a blood disorder. Apparently her body didn’t produce the plasma proteins to make her blood coagulate, so she bled constantly. This led to other problems such as weakness and anemia. And she had been like this for twelve years. We live in 2014. Imagine that you contracted a chronic health problem in 2002 and it was still nagging you every day.
She was also suffering financially. She had spent all her money on doctors who couldn’t cure her. Of course in the time of Jesus, doctors were more like magicians, they didn’t have to be trained or licensed. The Jewish Talmud lists several ancient cures for blood disorders. One of them involved cracking open a large duck egg, burning the shell and contents, and then wearing the ashes in a linin pouch around the neck. This woman had probably tried the duck-egg remedy. No wonder they called those doctors “quacks.”