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Both Mark and Luke, Gospel writers, talk about the woman “with an issue of blood.” This poor woman had been having excessive bleeding (presumed to be menstrual bleeding) for twelve years.
Luke, a physician, noted she had suffered many things from many doctors. Dr. Luke acknowledged there were some things even doctors could not fix.
As in many Bible stories, we are not given all the details. So we don’t know how old this woman was. If she was in prime child bearing age, having a weeping womb would have likely rendered her unable to become pregnant and bear a child.
But it was also very unlikely that any man would have gotten close enough to her to even consider impregnating her. When a woman was having the bleeding of her monthly cycle, she was considered unclean. An unending menstrual period would have probably branded her as permanently unclean.
So, as her physical body deteriorated from the constant loss of blood, it would have been very difficult to live life fully, even in total social isolation. She may have felt her only hope was finding the right doctor, who could help her.
But, alas, over a 12 year period of time, she found no one who could help her. Not only was she plagued by their inability to help her, but she suffered at their hands, as they tried to figure out what to do. How many of us have had “mystery illnesses,” that led us on the same route of desperately seeking and never finding anything but more suffering.
A Fruit I Don’t Even Want To Taste!
I always found The Word, as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23 a bit jarring. The King James Version reads
But the Fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:
against such there is no law.
Right in the middle of a whole bunch of Fruit I’d love to eat comes “long suffering!” I don’t like short suffering, much less long suffering!
The NIV version softens it a little by calling it “forbearance.” And the New Living Translation goes one better and calls it “patience.” But even, with the softening, it just doesn’t sound like me. The dictionary defines “patience” as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” That doesn’t sound like me. How about you?
Many of us have a little better time of being patient when the stakes are relatively low. The traffic light seems to be stuck on red when we are already running late. We order our food in a sit down restaurant and expect it to be served like fast food and it isn’t. We hear someone tell a joke for the fiftieth time that wasn’t funny the first time and got less funny with each telling.
Satan, The Patient One?
In contrast to many good Christians, satan is very patient. He often uses the technique of hitting us again and again, delighting in the torture and gradually ramping up the pain. And when we are punch drunk from the fight, he will send in his “doubt squad” to whisper in our ears, “So where is your God now? You’ve called for backup and He hasn’t helped you, has He? You know He supposedly has All Power, but I guess you’ve just messed up so badly, He’s not going to use that Power on you. Sorry about your luck, sucker.”
Satan considers his ace in the hole an attack against the body. And he even brags about it. Job 2:4-7 details satan’s conversation with God about the testing of Job, God’s righteous man.
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied.
“A man will give all he has for his own life.
But now stretch out Your Hand and strike his flesh and bones,
and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
Keep reading and you will discover God would never do that. He is not the one who attacks the body. But He will allow testing at times for our growth and to allow us to be an instrument of bringing Glory to Him.
Why Does Satan Care So Much About Our Bodies?
Why would satan be so interested in attacking our bodies? Satan is the sworn adversary of God. While satan does not speak Truth, he knows Truth. He knows what we often forget.
Do you not know that your bodies are Temples of The Holy Spirit,
Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your bodies!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Satan could care less about us as individuals. But he cares very much about conquering the One Who is housed in our Temples. He cares very much about conquering the One Who has bought us with a price, even with His Own Blood. Satan absolutely hates the life giving Blood inside the Temples of God!
And so now, we return to the account of the woman with the issue of blood. She had endured social isolation, the loss of her dreams and the continued deterioration of her physical body. Although it is not recorded as such, she may have cried out to God again and again.
She may have had some faith at the beginning when it was short suffering. She may have had some faith for healing, as she found a doctor and then another and another. But in her isolation and seeming defeat, if she believed God had all Power, she might have come face to face with the same question many sufferers have.
If God can fix me or those I love, why doesn’t He?
Initially we may think the answer lies in something we have done. We try to “straighten up and fly right.” But when we have made every course correction we can think of, we are left with the conclusion that God must either delight in torturing us or He just doesn’t care about our suffering. That’s exactly where satan wants us. Isolated in our misery and not even trusting that God will receive us kindly if we die.
Satan’s worst nightmare is the Christian who suffers and perseveres in faith. Satan’s preference is that we completely renounce God or that God go ahead and take us in death. Note: satan does not have the authority to kill us. Only God can usher us into eternity!
The Day Hope Became Full Grown Faith!
But the woman with the issue of blood had heard about Jesus. While Mark does mention that she believed He might be a source of healing for her, Luke does not mention this at all. He tells the story simply of her desire to be close to Jesus, close enough to touch just the hem of His Garment.
What Magnificent Force other than the drawing of God Himself could embold a social outcast, who had no business being in the crowd at all, to make such a daring move? What Mysterious Hand but God’s alone could have held back anyone from interfering with her journey of faith?
She touched Jesus and immediately the bleeding stopped! When Jesus asked who touched Him, I am convinced He already knew. The Voice of Truth itself called to her to tell the Truth and be a Witness to all who heard her.
The witness of her heart had already spoken to Him when she thought, “I still believe. Even though every day that has passed for twelve years has told me You would never come, I knew You would. I knew if I could have just one second to be close to You, that would be enough for me for the rest of my life. I had to come.”
Jesus, in fact, had never been apart from her for a single minute of her life. But the noice of her body, the screams of a world that had declared her unclean, man’s efforts to be her Great Physician, and the taunts of satan had drowned out the Voice of the One Who was waiting to make her clean. On that day, above any other voices, the woman heard The Voice of her Beloved. And she used the last bit of her strength to go to Him.
In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed!”
Then He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.
Go in peace!”
I believe it is possible Jesus spoke Words to her the crowd never heard. I think He may have whispered what no one else knew. Satan could never stop the Life Force of Jesus’ Blood. On that day, it ran quietly inside of the woman, but on another day, His Blood would be revealed to all! I believe Jesus may have told her the secret of how to live each day of her New Life in peace …
Become what you believe!
Matthew 9:29 (The Message)