God’s thoughts to me
For she thought to herself, ” If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. ( Mark 5:28-29, NLT )
And He said to her, ” Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:34, NLT)
The Lady and I
On my reading journey I once came across a quote that gripped my heart with wonder and sweet anticipation. Brennan Manning said in his book, The Lion and the Lamb, ” You will trust God only as much as you love Him. And you will love Him not because you have studied Him; you will love Him because you have touched Him – in response to His touch.”
I was in the midst of a cold, barren winter season of my life and could therefore feel how my restless soul uttered a silent, speechless cry, filled with longing to experience the real McCoy of God’s touch and presence. I am sure you are smiling a knowing smile right now! Fm/CFS made our Lord’s presence an absolute necessity I could not do without.
I realized that although I knew a lot about theology, a lot about God and loved the idea of His love, goodness and patience, it was all just an idea, a figment of my imagination and a poor substitute for that magic reality of the unity between two kindred spirits. I knew then that my lack of not knowing was not because of a lack of trying, but a lack of touching Him as a response to His touch. I was not experiencing that mysterious something that many dear saints so secretively smiled about and my heart was sad! That closeness my heart yearned for, seemed unattainable no matter how hard I tried.
At the same time I also had a very unhealthy fear of our God and was terrified that I might land up in the wrong place if I could not muster up enough loving feelings in my heart towards Him. This was a real catch 22 situation if ever there was one! Until I read the above-mentioned quote. Then I knew, really knew that the reason for my dilemma was that I had never before really touched our Lord. I did not know if this was even attainable and my mind seemed unable to fathom the reality of the continuous presence of our resurrected Lord.
A passionate, burning flame of excitement and hope pierced my heart as I was contemplating the possibility of that magic touch and I was overwhelmed with longing which at the same time was beautifully disturbing and devastatingly delightful! I cannot describe it better than King David when he said, “My soul followeth hard after thee; thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Ps 63:8, KJV) The knowledge of our Lord’s prevenient grace before we can even begin to feel the faintest stirring of longing in our hearts towards our King filled me with wonder about the mystery and greatness of His love.
But I was still so unfulfilled and clueless about how to bring this touching thing about when I suddenly remembered another woman from another time, whose heart also had the same yearning and longing, the woman with the issue of blood. Although our reasons for this longing were different; she desperately needed physical healing where my heart needed to touch His and enter into the fullness of His love, we were both in a very needy place.
Under the Mosaic Law and regulations, menstruating women (those with the issue of blood) were considered unclean and were set apart for seven days. Anything or anyone she touched during this time were also considered unclean. People needed to wash their clothes after such an encounter. If the bleeding lasted longer than the seven days, the law was very specific that she needed to be treated as unclean until it ceased.
I can only imagine how desperately lonely and rejected this poor woman must have felt after being set apart for the twelve long, lonely years she had been suffering from menorrhagia (today’s diagnosis for abnormal, long, heavy and painful menstruation which can be cured through hormone pills or a hysterectomy). She surely must have been anemic as well by that time and according to Scripture she had spent nearly all her livelihood on doctors, but only got worse. In a small way I can relate to her loneliness and despair for I think that all Fm/CFS sufferers experience to some degree this being “set apart” scenario through the disbelief and subsequent distancing from medical professionals, friends or dear ones. Researchers are making progress, but are still unable to answer most of our questions about these debilitating diseases.
I am now speculating, but allow me to consider the probability that this lady was in the midst of a religious crowd surrounding our Lord Jesus and feared the risk of causing Him, or anyone in the crowd, to become ritually unclean through touching them and therefore hid herself after she had done so. I think she must have been so fearful of these hostile people who rejected her when she was in such a desperate place, needing their help and support! One thing that I do know without a doubt, was that both of us were at the crossroads of our lives and we could both hear our Pappa’s gentle encouragement, “Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is and walk in it. And you will find rest for your souls.” (Jer 6:16, NASB). We could both look and recognize the one and only true ancient Path, the only good Way, the only true Answer to our suffering, our Lord Jesus!
Like this lady, I also experienced severe spiritual, emotional and physical bankruptcy after battling this foe that had invaded and disabled my life for a long time and knew that I drastically needed something to change in my life. I am ashamed to admit that I also hoped our Heavenly Father would just transform Himself into a genie in a bottle and jump at my every command. But this Genie surely seemed as deaf as a doorknob, as blind as a bat and totally unappreciative of all my clever efforts!
I tried all the newest religious programs and gimmicks doing the rounds at that time. I am unable to recall how many times I confessed with my mouth and believed, or at least tried to, in my heart, that I was healed by our Lord’s stripes; I did more than my fair share of claiming my healing by faith and that in the name of Jesus, bound so many demons and commanded them to the bottomless pit that I was sure hell must have been a very empty place with them becoming a bunch of pit dwellers! I had hands laid on me more times than I would care to remember and received prayer after prayer, but all to no avail. Was our Pappa unwilling to heal me? Definitely not!
He was gently drawing me into His loving embrace until I had no other choice, just like the woman with the blood issue, than to crawl on my spiritual knees until I touched our Lord Jesus. Did He heal me? Of course!! He took the tatters of my broken life and started to heal me from the inside out. Although my illness is still very much part of my life, He has brought me to the place of sweet acceptance from where I am looking forward to the day when I will leave this old coat behind six foot underground, to receive a glorious, new one.
Dear Ones, I know from experience that the road we walk is hard and difficult and I will not dare try and trivialize the suffering you might be experiencing on a daily basis, but I do want to encourage you to allow your heart to follow strongly after our God, assured that His right hand is upholding you. Crawl, if necessary, to our Lord Jesus until you are near enough to touch Him again and again and again.
I want to love you and leave you with our Lord’s beautiful assurance, “However, those the Father has given Me will come to Me and I will never reject them.” (John 6:37, NLT)
Hugs and blessings