Tale of Two Women
There is a very interesting story in the Bible that conflates two different storylines overlapping them into one integrated story. Now I am starting to see that there may be something very significant about that, that very possibly if we read these two parallel stories without our Greek logic filters in place but allowed a more relaxed approach to affect our thinking, that some startling insights might begin to emerge.
One account of this story is found in Luke 8:40-56. It starts out with a frantic father begging Jesus to come and heal his twelve year old daughter who is dying. Jesus agrees to go along to his house to accommodate his request. But suddenly the first narrative is suspended as a second story is inserted just at that point. The focus shifts to a grown lady much older than the girl who has suffered much and had spent all of her valuables trying to get help from physicians for her incessant hemorrhaging. And she had been forced to live with this debilitating condition for twelve long years.
Now isn't that curious. The hemorrhaging of this woman began at the same time that Jairus' girl was born. I'm not sure what to make of that but I think it must be more than just a coincidence. That means that during the entire time of this little girl was growing up, this other woman had been experiencing a slow death as her life-blood kept draining from her body.
Of course what is not so familiar to us are the ramifications of this condition for this woman. The strict rules of her society taught that anyone in this condition was considered unclean and should not be touched. Furthermore, anyone who did touch her or even anything she sat on or laid on would themselves become unclean for a period of time. And becoming unclean was such a hassle and embarrassment for anyone in that day that such people were shunned and isolated and even despised.
Given this state of affairs and for such a long period of time, one can only imagine the enormous impact such shaming would have had on this woman. No one would even touch her gently to assure her of their love. No one would be willing to hold her in their arms when she was sad or hurting. She had to live in constant shame and fear and humiliation that went on and on with no end in sight. It is no wonder then that for many reason she was desperate to do anything to resolve her plight. But every other option had been exhausted by this time and she was out of money and nearly out of hope.
Most of us are familiar with these stories. But do we allow the two narratives to mesh into each other as it might seem all three authors of this story suggest we could do? Here is a twelve year old girl about to expire, but while she is literally dying waiting for Jesus to arrive, Jesus interrupts His already slow progress toward her house to spend time investigating a most unusual occurrence involving a packed crowd, a sudden release of healing power from His own body, an unclean, sick woman and also importantly addresses a great deal of shame, fear but also faith.
Both of these women – the little girl and the other woman – were both in desperate conditions. But something else I notice here is that interestingly, involved in these stories are two men – one a desperate father frantic to save his daughter from the brink of death and the other is Jesus.
Now at first we might not see this as a parallel, for Jesus is not sharing any of the anxiety of Jairus but does seem curiously concerned about feeling power leave His body. Neither is Jesus a father of any children of His own. But look more closely at the account. Jesus encourages the woman to come forward to confess her story publicly, how she had been healed by crawling through the tight crowd (which must have only added insult to injury as people she touched along the way may likely have become very upset over being contaminated by her uncleanness) and had finally reached out with every ounce of strength she had left to barely touch the tassel of His garment. It is clear to everyone now how much shame and fear she had to push past in her hope that Jesus could heal her. But Jesus wants to make a point of not only affirming her faith but intentionally addresses her in a most unlikely manner; He assures her that she is His own daughter. That tells her that He wants to adopt her as her new father.
Now we have two women, both sick and heading into death along with two fathers, one frantic and desperate and the other reassuring, affirming and healing. At this point in the story, messengers from the Jairus' household inform him that it is too late, that there is no need to hurry Jesus along anymore for his daughter's case is now hopeless as she has already died.
Now here is where I want to encourage us to suspend our linear way of thinking about these stories and look at them from a different point of view. What if the reader is to conflate these stories in their own thinking to the point where these two women could be viewed as actually one and the same person? I know this is not logical from the literal way we think, but neither are many things related to the kingdom of heaven. We have to learn to be freed more from our rigid logical way of thinking to allow more room for kingdom principles to enter into our awareness at times.
What brought this interesting notion to me recently were some comments by a friend of mine that I have dialoged with for a number of years via email. She has had intense experiences throughout her life, both positive and negative which has resulted in years of struggling with a great deal of emotional baggage. Given the amount of abuse she experienced as a young girl, and much of it perpetrated in the name of God and religion, it is no wonder that she has suffered so much since escaping that environment.
But as I pondered this story in light of our recent discussions, it suddenly occurred to me that both of the women in this story parallel my friend's experience in very relevant ways. As a little girl she experienced a level of intimate joy and warmth and unconditional love with her real father that few people have ever known in their life. But after her mother divorced and married a religious fanatic, the abuse she experienced at the hands of her step-father for a number of years was tragic to say the very least and deeply wounding to her gentle heart.
Yet in recent years as she has struggled to piece back together the fractured parts of her heart that have been hemorrhaging for so long, it is as if that little girl that had known such peace and happiness basking in the love of her first father has been suspended in time and space while all the other traumatic events wreaked havoc in her life. And for me, this lady is an compelling example of how both of these women, both the twelve year old girl and the woman with a twelve year issue of blood represent so many who suffer as this woman has suffered.
My friend also had two fathers, one who was the cause of most of the emotional and physical damage she suffered at his hands, but the other the anchor for the hope she clung to during all those years of abuse. She hung on to the hope that one day she might escape the tyranny of her evil step-father and be reunited with the father she had known before, the one who had ravished her with his love and had even taught her to trust her heart with Jesus when she was young, innocent and free.
The wonderful news is that today she is starting to experience a renewal and healing as her heavenly Father is touching her heart again with His healing, unconditional, irrepressible love for her. Her Father in heaven's reputation had been seriously damaged by her step-father's profession of religion, but now she is breaking through the crowd of lies to discover that God the Father feels no differently toward her than does Jesus, the one she never had a problem trusting.
How many women around us share a similar experience? How many, even men for that matter, are frozen in time from a young age, sort of like this account suspends the first storyline of the little girl to insert the second story? The little girl in this story ended up dying, which made it look to everyone else like Jesus had failed her and deeply disappointed her father. But Jesus didn't see it that way, which is why He did not feel compelled to ignore this other woman's plight to push on to heal the little girl.
Jesus not only has the power and ability but is eager to restore all of us back to health and wholeness. As He demonstrated in the lives of both of these women, He was just as keen to restore their sense of identity and value and place in the family as He was to heal their bodies, if not more so. After He easily raised the little girl back to life, instead of basking in the glow of appreciation for raising her from the dead, Jesus alerts the distracted family members stunned with amazement that she is hungry and it would be nice if someone would pay closer attention to her needs.
Likewise with the woman who was healed from her hemorrhaging blood flow, Jesus was more concerned to take time to specifically affirm not only her trust in Him, but to give her assurance that she was loved, she was valued, that He cared deeply about her and even honored here publicly as a daughter of the King. Can you even begin to imagine what that must have done for this woman's heart to the deepest part of her soul? And though none of the narratives report this part, I am sure that Jesus must have given her a touch of love, something she had never felt for a very long time.
This is the kind of God we all need to become better acquainted with, the God who is eager to restore our soul to health even more than our bodies. Here we find a demonstration of the loving Father that has been so obscured and distorted by religion and by abusive authority figures in our lives. This is also the God who knows no haste or delay but who's timing is always perfect, even though to us at times it seems He doesn't understand or care.
This is the God that each of us can know personally and embrace His love for us with our whole heart.