Sickness is the Great Interrupter of life. It enters without knocking, thwarting all plans, mocking the idea of certainty, and diminishing hope for the future. It intrudes like a burglar in our home, touching every part of life.
Such an interruption occurred to a woman in Jesus' time. Her encounter with Jesus is told in Mark 5
. The incident takes place on a city street. It is a narrow twisted street packed with a crowd of excited people. Not unlike the malls at Christmas, people were moving past bazaars and stores with noise and confusion. The crowd is there not to purchase gifts, but to catch a glimpse of the one named Jesus. He walks like a king. The common people speak of Him with deep affection. The beggars whisper His name softly. The children may be heard singing about Him. He is known to the diseased. His fame has trickled down to the streets of forgotten men and women. It is Jesus of Nazareth.
At the request of one Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, Jesus is on His way to restore to complete health Jairus' dying daughter. He is on a mission of restoration, and the crowd is following Him in order to see Him perform this miracle. Opinion is divided. There is argument and discussion. Some are declaring He can do it; others are doubtful.
His walk is interrupted by a very sick woman. Her face is marred with lines of agony. Her body is racked with pain. Who is she? Tradition gives her various names, but I cannot tell you who she was. It does not matter. Is it enough that she was a woman in pain? She is typical of countless cases of endless pain and suffering. For twelve years she had suffered and twelve years is a long time. She wants relief. Restoration. Health. Life. She hopes Jesus can heal.
She had every reason to want to be healed. Her sickness, as any sickness, had a profound effect on her. She felt the losses caused by her illness everyday.The Losses of a Sickness
In sickness, as in any battle, there are losses, even for the victor. The pain, and uncertainty of illness usually amplify the sense of loss experienced by the victim. Among the most common feelings of loss are:
1. Loss of control. Suddenly the body, rather than obeying you, has its own agenda and behaves any way it pleases. It's like driving a car on an icy highway. Suddenly your car hits an ice slick, and you are out of control. Hit the brakes, twist the steering wheel -- nothing helps. All you can do is hang on and wait for the crash. It is a sickening, helpless feeling.
This was the embarrassing condition of the woman. She "had been subject to bleeding for twelve years" (Mark 5:25
). Her body was out of control.
2. Loss of identity. Sick people become defined by their illness. Isn't it interesting that the lady in the story is not called by name. Simply, "A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding." The same is true today. We speak of certain people and say "She has cancer," "He has AIDS," or "She suffers from manic depression." Sick people lose their identity in their sickness. One is no longer the person they were; they are the person who has an illness, who is disfigured, who endures chronic pain, who is dying.