From long ago, her story is both gripping and miraculous. Is she a mom? It’s not known but in my imagination, I assume she is. As her story spills out from the pages of an ancient book we see her desperation in a life filled with stain, pain, and shame. In spite of hardships her faith never wavered. Although her life may not mirror mine or yours, her story reminds me to keep living in faith while my journey of grief continues.
Her story paints a picture of a woman without an identity, but I will give her one and call her Isabella. She built a life with her husband (I’ll call him Samuel) and their three beautiful sons who she was forced to watch grow up from afar. Why afar? Because her bleeding never stopped after the birth of her third child. Strangely, her womb failed to heal completely as it had after the births of her other two children. It was just a bit of spotting at first. She didn’t worry about it or seek medical attention, telling herself I am older this time around, therefore my body is taking longer to heal.
No one outside Isabella’s home knew of her problem. People in her day never spoke of such personal matters. Obviously, her husband knew since she could not lie next to him until her bleeding stopped. In her culture menstrual bleeding was considered unclean. During her cycle a woman must remain separate from others; no touching allowed. If a woman touched anything, including what she sat on, it would be impure until re-blessed by the village Rabbi. Needing the Rabbi to make a house call would, in itself, remind her of her shame.
Think about it. Isabella could not touch her husband and children. She could not pass food at the table. She could only cuddle her youngest child while she nursed him at her breast, but that did not last very long. Now it had been years since she had touched her loved ones. She could not go out among people to attend temple services or shop at the market, which must have added to her loneliness. Most of all, her marriage relationship was strained to the max without the physical contact Isabella and Samuel longed for. What could she do?
In spite of the rules and shame that had kept her silent, Isabella finally gave in to her husband’s pleas and made an appointment to see the village doctor. He examined her and prescribed treatment, but two months later she was no better. She even sought help from a specialist in the next village, but still, her condition did not improve. Over and over she saw doctors who bled her of her finances but could not stop her bleeding. In addition to her shame, humiliation, and isolation now came excruciating pain in her abdomen and lower back. Day in and day out she was confined to her bed often groaning in agony. However, for twelve long years, Isabella’s faith never wavered. Daily she prayed to her higher power for a miracle.
Now Isabella’s nest was downsized by two, and her youngest was a teenager. His brothers had grown into men, chosen wives, and were living their own lives in nearby villages. Whenever they came home to visit they hugged their father and brother, but not their mother. How sad for Isabella that uppermost in her mind had to be I must not touch those I love. Now her sons would surely become fathers, and she would never get to hold her grandbabies. The cry of her heart was always, Lord, how long must I suffer?
As her story unravels Isabella hears that the Master is coming to her village. She has also heard that He has the power to heal. Certain that He could heal her if she could just touch Him propelled her out in public and into the crowd that surrounded Him. Breaking all the rules she stretched out her hand, barely touching the hem of the Master’s garment as He walked by. Her touch, in faith, healed her. Jesus came to her rescue and set her free! Isabella’s incredible story ended with a miracle! How excited, relieved, and free she must have felt when, at last, she could clasp her precious children and husband to her breast!
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.
It was just a touch. But this touch was everything to Isabella. She must have felt a current of new life surge through her body. The Master felt it, too. He, who knows everything, asked a rhetorical question, “Who touched me?” The story goes on to tell what happened next.
Jesus knew all about Isabella and her problem. Given the opportunity to share her instant healing, Isabella’s story could’ve been just what another person in the crowd needed to hear that day. No doubt there were people listening who were weak in faith, and the story of miraculous healing was just what they needed to jumpstart their own faith.
I can relate to this mother’s story in that I cannot touch my child either. It is out of my control. I have sorrow that cannot be satiated no matter how much professional help I seek. Isabella got her miracle, the one she prayed for. I have to wait for mine, but hopefully not much longer. Soon I will be able to touch my Greg again and wrap him in a huge hug. At last our family will be whole once more.
I must ask you, Dear Reader, have you gotten your miracle? The one you long for? How thrilling it will be to have our loved ones back in our arms again. This time it will be forever!
Isabella’s story, Mark 5:25-34
Scripture shared from New International Version (NIV)