Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.
— Matthew 9:20-23
I say this not to be arrogant, but as a simple statement of an observation I have made over the course of …. well, let’s just say my lifetime and not worry too much about how many years that may be. That is that it takes a pretty serious illness to make me stop what I am doing or plan to do. Stuffy nose, nasty cough, chest congestion — you know, stereotypical winter cold symptoms — do little to slow me down. Migraines can do it, but only if its not a particularly busy day at work. If it is, I go to work and head home when the absolute necessities are finished.
But, when I do get sick, look out! The last time I was for real sick — pukey, tired, achey, stuffy, the works — I admit that the only time I wasn’t whining about feeling like crap was when I was asleep. Fortunately for everyone around me, I was asleep most of the time.
Knowing how I react to a real sickness makes me admire the woman in the Scripture passage above all the more. She put up with her illness for twelve long years. It was an illness that carried a stigma for in the Jewish culture an illness that involved bleeding would have made her ‘unclean’ and prohibited her from temple activities and required those around her to treat her differently.
More inspiring than her endurance, however, is the sheer faith she held in the healing power of Jesus. She believed that he didn’t have to turn. He didn’t have to look at her. He didn’t even have to touch her. All she would have to do is get close enough to him to reach out to him and touch the hem of his robe.
When we’re sick, we have it a little easier. We don’t have to fight through a crowd. Jesus is as near as a prayer. We don’t reach out physically, we reach out with a request for healing. We ask knowing that Jesus has the power to heal us, but acknowledging that not our will but his is to be done even in the midst of our illness.
And, in all things, we ask that God may be glorified, even in our sickness.