Invisible No More!
Today, I heard a story that brought some very raw and unhappy feelings up in me. Jesus is on his way
This is where the oh-so-familiar pain of loneliness rose up into my chest and my throat. I know too well from my childhood experiences what the loneliness of being a social outcast feels like and I know the pain that welled up in that woman's heart, even as she maneuvered her way through the crowd of neighbors and town folk, of being so alone and lonely in a crowd of people who at best ignored her and at worst chased her away from their company. She touches Jesus' clothes and immediately she is healed—the bleeding stops. This is what she had hoped for!
Did you ever wonder why she didn't just go up to him like everyone else and ask for healing? Why instead did she try to slip in and out of the crowd unnoticed? While we can't know for sure, my bet is that after a dozen years of being told she was a worthless, unclean sinner, irrelevant to God and society - she believed it. Why would Jesus bother with her especially when he was on his way to do something of such importance as healing the dying child of a prominent citizen? In her whole world, she wasn't worth the time or attention of anyone and she certainly wasn't worthy of Jesus' attention…or so she thought.
Yet Jesus was most definitely serious. He asks again and keeps looking until the woman comes forward to confess that she is the one he is looking for. As she falls at his feet, she is trembling with fear—fear of attention, because in her world, attention equates only to degrading, hurtful remarks and threat of physical harm and fear of retribution for coming into their midst and "spreading her unclean cooties." But Jesus doesn't call her out to rebuke her, or even to take back his healing which some might say she stole from him, but to commend her for her faith and complete her healing by restoring her place in the community.
This is the part of the story that I love. He says to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you." Daughter! Imagine with me for a moment being this woman and the first kind word you hear in twelve years, and possibly your whole life, is God calling you "child." No longer are you insignificant, invisible, unwanted and unworthy, but now you are recognized and confirmed as God's precious child. In this one word, he restored her dignity and bestows upon her a relevance far greater than anyone else in that crowd possesses. Her pain, physical, social, and spiritual, was important to Jesus. Even though he was a holy man, a well-known rabbi whose reputation of healing and teaching with authority preceded him—even though he was on a very important errand—her woes, her concerns, were important enough to him that he stopped and gave all his attention to her and her alone in the crowd of people that moments ago, didn't even know she was there.
You can read this story for yourself in Mark 5:24-34