Monday, May 30, 2016
Sick and tired of being sick and tired
What do you think of when I say, "Period"?
The dot at the end of the sentence?
Or the monthly cycle that we women experience?
It's been called menstruation, menses, the curse, and many other names.
In the Old Testament it was called "an issue of blood."
We know that there is a very important reason for our period. We know that all during the month, inside women of child-bearing age, the lining of the womb gradually increases, so that if a child is conceived, that lining is ready to receive and nourish that life. If that doesn't happen, that lining is "shed" and the blood exits the body.
Many times it's painful.
It can be inconvenient.
It can also be embarrassing.
If the flow is heavy or prolonged, it can be debilitating. The loss of blood means an accompanying loss of iron, and poor health can result.
That's just if it happens once monthly.
Now imagine you've had that happening for twelve years.
The woman in our story had been suffering that long. Much more than just being uncomfortable, or feeling tired and sick, she had also been "unclean."
In the book of Leviticus, chapter fifteen, we can read of the purity guidelines for men and women with these health issues. This woman was considered unclean. Anything that she touched while she had "an issue of blood" was unclean. She couldn't touch anyone, nor could they touch her, or else they would be unclean, too. She could not even allow her husband to touch her -- he himself would become unclean and unable to offer sacrifices or to enter the temple. Obviously, she couldn't go into the temple or the synagogue.
I'm sure she was desperate. The scriptures tell us that she had spent everything she had, "all her living," on doctors, but no one could help her. Mark's gospel tells us rather pointedly that she had suffered much at the hands of the doctors.
The scholars tell us that there were many "treatments" for this problem. Herbal remedies, wine with questionable ingredients mixed into it, carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg, or a barley corn, or a fox's tooth. Oy vey.
She had tried them all.
But she still had that issue of blood.
I'm certain that she had prayed mightily to Yahweh, to remove this problem from her, too. I'm sure that she pleaded with Him to heal her.
But she is depressed, and alone.
She might as well have been dead.
But then she hears about Jesus. And that He is coming to her town! Why, He has healed others, perhaps He can heal her!
She rushes to the town square, and stops, breathless from her exertion. (In her poor health, it would have been exhausting to run.) She sees Jesus in the midst of a crowd of people.
He's talking to someone who seems to be of high station, and the people are jostling about, peering over each other's shoulders, trying to see and hear what is going on.
To get to Him, she would have to touch others, and pass along her uncleanness.
What to do?
Join us next time as we study this amazing story.