How Healing Happens, Part 1
Imagine waking every morning for twelve years with symptoms of a chronic internal bleeding disease. You’re wiped out in every way. Sleep doesn’t recharge you, in fact, you barely sleep because of the anxiety that makes your mind spin. Will this new doctor be able to help at all? That is, if he’ll even see you on your limited budget. You’ve already spent everything you have on doctor after doctor with no results. They’ve given up on you and they don’t really care. You’ve been one of their “experiments” and you’ve failed. So here you are. Staring at your breakfast, wondering how much longer you have. Wishing your friends, your family – anyone – understood the fear and the exhaustion wearing down your body along with your disease.
Spiritually, you’ve felt defeated. Does God care you’re suffering? You want to believe he does. But why hasn’t he helped? You’ve heard about a man, a prophet at least, the Messiah at best, who is going around healing people. Lepers, the blind, even the demon-possessed. The faintest hope stirs inside you. Is this Jesus the evidence that God has heard your prayers, and the prayers of your people? Has God started moving again in your world?
People outside your window seem to be gathering into a crowd. That usually means Jesus is around. You’ve never stopped praying for healing through these long twelve years. One of these times, God has to answer you. What is it you can do? The thought of approaching him makes your blood pressure skyrocket. Your palms get sweaty and your breath comes in even shorter gasps than normal. But you want so badly to see if he could help. You’re sick of doctors. You’re sick of being sick. You have no other hope.
“I could try to just touch his robe,” you think. “If he’s from God, that would be enough to heal me.” Nobody else has to know. And if it doesn’t work…your family won’t know to ask any questions.
Heart racing, you put on your veil and leave the house before you lose your nerve. The sun hurts your eyes and walking quickly brings a stab of pain in your side but you bite your lip and push on, holding onto hope. You’re making it through the crowd, and find a spot to squeeze closer to him. He’s a few people ahead of you so you kneel down and slip up behind him to touch the edge of his robe. He’ll never know.
As instantly as you feel the wool touch your fingers, you feel the pain evaporate. Strength pulses through your body and your heart rate slows. Taking a deep breath, you can’t find even a twinge of pain. The harsh sunshine from a moment ago now feels soft and welcoming to your senses. “There’s no way,” you think, starting to shake with the surge of adrenaline your body’s been building.
Suddenly you realize that Jesus is looking for you. “Who touched my robe?” he’s asking. You’re panicking now but the shallow breaths aren’t hurting your lungs. You’ve been healed. How… This is no prophet. You can’t believe you’re doing this, but you have to say something. The miracle was too much. “It’s me,” you say, falling in front of him. “I thought maybe you could heal me, so I touched you. And you did. I’m well.”
And Jesus stoops down and lifts you so kindly by your shoulders. “Your faith. Your faith has made you well, sweet woman. Go in peace. No more anxiety. No more fear. Your suffering is over. You are well. And it was your faith that made you well.” His eyes are so kind. So understanding. Like he knows exactly how you feel and it matters to him. He’s not shaming you. Somehow, he’s healing you in your heart just by saying those few words. All your doubt of God’s goodness – it’s gone and the weight of guilt you were carrying around with it has vanished, too.
Someone else pulls on Jesus and the crowd moves away with him but you stand, staring at his retreating back. You’ve never felt such peace. You’ve never been so sure that God really does see you. And you never want to doubt him again.
What you don’t realize in that moment is that every step along the way that you chose to keep trying, to keep praying, to keep moving toward life instead of death, you were growing in faith. You were making progress. Your body was wracked with pain just like your heart was filled with fear, but you kept going. Little by little you were doing what God called you to do. That last big step of faith, to go look for Jesus, that was just the stretch to the finish line in this leg of your faith journey. If you’d given up with the first diagnosis, or refused to believe that God cared to heal you, you never would have gone to see Jesus. Your faith he referred to wasn’t conjured up in a moment. It had been built over the long horrendous stretch of twelve years when healing seemed impossible. God never forgot about you. He was growing your faith in the dark when you thought he was silent.
Jesus cares about more than your physical wellness, and he cares about more than your faith. You are one – your body, soul and spirit. God has been shaping all of them through the pain you’ve suffered. He could have healed you the day after you were diagnosed, but because he’s so wise, he chose to grow faith in you through the process of pain so that when he did take away your disease, you were so much stronger in every other way.
*This story takes place in Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48.
This is Part 1 of a 6-part series on How Healing Happens. I’m currently in the middle of a search for a diagnosis and healing solutions for some autoimmune and gut health concerns, and along with that, a journey to freedom. I believe we all have something we need God’s healing for and that Christ has come to set us free. I’m not an expert and I don’t have all the answers. I’m just responding to God’s leading to share what he’s teaching me in the middle of the mess. Thanks for joining me!