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Healing begins when we with faith do something

The passages below are taken from Max Lucado’s book “He Still Moves Stones,” published in 1993.

So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed Jesus and pushed very close around him. Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had, but instead of improving, she was getting worse. When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his coat. She thought, “If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Instantly her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed from her disease.

At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

His followers said, “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?”

But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him. The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:24—34 NCV)

 

A CL 0 C K for Christmas is not the kind of gift that thrills an eight-year-old boy, but I said thank you and took it to my bedroom, put it on the nightstand, and plugged it in.

It was a square-faced Bulova. It didn’t have moving numbers—--it had rotating hands. It didn’t play tapes or CDs, but over the years it developed a slight, soothing hum that could be heard when the room was quiet.

Today you can buy clocks that sound like rain when it’s time to sleep and like your mother when it’s time to wake up. But not this one. Its alarm could make the dogs howl. Forget snooze buttons. Just pick it up and chunk it across the room. It was a Neanderthal model. It wouldn’t net fifty cents at a garage sale in this day of digital clocks and musical alarms.

But still, over time, I grew attached to it. People don’t usually get sentimental about electric clocks, but I did about this one. Not because of its accuracy, it was always a bit slow. Nor the hum, which I didn’t mind. I liked it because of the light.

You see, this clock glowed in the dark.

 All day, every day it soaked up the light. It sponged up the sun. The hands were little sticks of ticks and time and sunshine. And when the night came, the clock was ready. When I flicked off the light to sleep, the little clock flicked on its light and shined. Not much light, but when your world is dark, just a little seems like a lot.

Somewhat like the light a woman got when she met Jesus.

We don’t know her name, but we know her situation. Her world was midnight black. Grope-in-the-dark-and-hope-for-help black. Read these two verses and see what I mean:

A large crowd followed Jesus and pushed very close around him.

Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had, but instead of improving, she was getting worse.(Mark 5:24—26)

 

She was a bruised reed: “bleeding for twelve years,” “suffered very much’ “spent all the money she had,” and “getting worse.”

A chronic menstrual disorder. A perpetual issue of blood. Such a condition would be difficult for any woman of any era. But for a Jewess, nothing could be worse. No part of her life was left unaffected.

Sexually. . she could not touch her husband.

Maternally.., she could not bear children.

Domestically. . . anything she touched was considered unclean. No washing dishes. No sweeping floors.

Spiritually. . . she was not allowed to enter the temple.

She was physically exhausted and socially ostracized.

She had sought help “under the care of many doctors” (v. 26 NIv). The Talmud gives no fewer than eleven cures for such a condition. No doubt she had tried them all. Some were legitimate treatments. Others, such as carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen cloth, were hollow superstitions.

She “had spent all she had” (v. 26 NIV). To dump financial strain on top of the physical strain is to add insult to injury. A friend battling cancer told me that the hounding of the creditors who demand payments for ongoing medical treatment is just as devastating as the pain.

“Instead of getting better she grew worse” (v. 26 NIv). She was a bruised reed. She awoke daily in a body that no one wanted. She is down to her last prayer. And on the day we encounter her, she’s about to pray it.

By the time she gets to Jesus, he is surrounded by people. He’s on his way to help the daughter of Jairus, the most important man in the community. What are the odds that he will interrupt an urgent mission with a high official to help the likes of her? Very few. But what are the odds that she will survive if she doesn’t take a chance? Fewer still. So she takes a chance.

“If I can just touch his clothes she thinks, “I will be healed” (v. 28).

Risky decision. To touch him, she will have to touch the people. If one of them recognizes her . . . hello rebuke, good-bye cure. But what choice does she have? She has no money, no clout, no friends, no solutions. All she has is a crazy hunch that Jesus can help and a high hope that he will.

Maybe that’s all you have: a crazy hunch and a high hope. You have nothing to give. But you are hurting. And all you have to offer him is your hurt.

Maybe that has kept you from coming to God. Oh, you’ve taken a step or two in his direction. But then you saw the other people around him. They seemed so clean, so neat, so trim and fit in their faith. And when you saw them, they blocked your view of him. So you stepped back.

If that describes you, note carefully, only one person was commended that day for having faith. It wasn’t a wealthy giver. It wasn’t a loyal follower. It wasn’t an acclaimed teacher. It was a shame-struck, penniless outcast who clutched onto her hunch that he could and her hope that he would.

Which, by the way, isn’t a bad definition of faith: A conviction that he can and a hope that he will. Sounds similar to the definition of faith given by the Bible. “Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him” (Hebrew 11:6).

Not too complicated is it? Faith is the belief that God is real and that God is good. Faith is not a mystical experience or a midnight vision or a voice in the forest . . . it is a choice to believe that the one who made it all hasn’t left it all and that he still sends light into shadows and responds to gestures of faith.

There was no guarantee, of course. She hoped he’d respond. . . she longed for it. . . but she didn’t know if he would. All she knew was that he was there and that he was good. That’s faith.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.

“Blessed are the dirt-poor, nothing-to-give, trapped-in-a-corner, destitute, diseased,” Jesus said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:6, my translation).

God’s economy is upside down (or rightside up and ours is upside down!). God says that the more hopeless your circumstance, the more likely your salvation. The greater your cares, the more genuine your prayers. The darker the room, the greater the need for light.

Which takes us back to my clock. When it was daylight, I never appreciated my little Bulova’s capacity to glow in the dark. But as the shadows grew, so did my gratitude.

A healthy lady never would have appreciated the power of a touch of the hem of his robe. But this woman was sick . . . and when her dilemma met his dedication, a miracle occurred.

Her part in the healing was very small. All she did was extend her arm through the crowd.

“If only I can touch him.”

What’s important is not the form of the effort but the fact of the effort. The fact is, she did something. She refused to settle for sickness another day and resolved to make a move.

Healing begins when we do something. Healing begins when we reach out. Healing starts when we take a step.

God’s help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it. Nothing results from apathy. The great work in this story is not the mighty healing that occurred. But the great truth is that the healing began with her touch. And with that small, courageous gesture, she experienced Jesus’ tender power.

Compared to God’s part, our part is minuscule but necessary. We don’t have to do much, but we do have to do something.

Write a letter.

Ask forgiveness.

Call a counselor.

Confess.

Call Mom.

Visit a doctor.

Be baptized.

Feed a hungry person.

Pray.

Teach.

Go.

Do something that demonstrates faith. For faith with no effort is no faith at all. God will respond. He has never rejected a genuine gesture of faith. Never.

God honors radical, risk-taking faith.

When arks are built, lives are saved. When soldiers march, Jerichos tumble. When staffs are raised, seas still open. When a lunch is shared, thousands are fed. And when a garment is touched—--whether by the hand of an anemic woman in Galilee or by the prayers of a beggar in Bangladesh—--Jesus stops. He stops and responds.

Mark can tell you. When this woman touched Christ, two things happened that happen nowhere else in the Bible. He recorded them both.

First, Jesus heals before he knows it. The power left automatically and instantaneously. It’s as if the Father short-circuited the system and the divinity of Christ was a step ahead of the humanity of Christ.

Her need summoned his help. No neon lights or loud shouts.

No razzle-dazzle. No fanfare. No hoopla. No splash. Just help.

Just like my dark room brought the light out of my clock, our dark world brings out the light of God.

Second, he calls her daughter. “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (v. 34 NKJV). It’s the only time Jesus calls any woman anywhere daughter. Imagine how that made her feel! Who could remember the last time she received a term of affection? Who knew the last time kind eyes had met hers?

Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, tells of the time he was walking down the street and passed a beggar. Tolstoy reached into his pocket to give the beggar some money, but his pocket was empty. Tolstoy turned to the man and said, “I’m sorry, my brother, but I have nothing to give.”

The beggar brightened and said, “You have given me more than

I asked for—--you have called me brother?”

To the loved, a word of affection is a morsel, but to the love-starved, a word of affection can be a feast.

And Jesus gave this woman a banquet.

Tradition holds that she never forgot what Jesus did. Legend states that she stayed with Jesus and followed him as he carried his cross up Calvary. Some believe she was Veronica, the woman who walked the road to the cross with him. And when the sweat and blood were stinging his eyes, she wiped his forehead.

She, at an hour of great need, received his touch—--and he, at an hour of pain, received hers. We don’t know if the legend is true, but we know it could be. And I don’t know if the same has happened to you, but I know it can. (54-60)

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