To Touch His Hem

She winced as her stiff, gnarled fingers pulled the blood-soaked bandages away. Sharp pains radiated through her body and weariness soaked her bones. She no longer believed this constant torment would become bearable one day. Her haggard appearance was a result of harsh years and loneliness rather than old age. The life for which she dreamt as a young girl now a distant memory; she had no husband, no children, no friends. An outcast for a disease of which she had no control. The humiliating bandage changing and cleansing was now a daily reminder of her social exclusion.

Countless doctors with degrading examinations dotted the last 12 years of raw disappointment, leaving her penniless. In the end there was never a conclusion; no closer to knowing the source of her bleeding nor the cure. Always hopeful for good news, each session left her worse off than before. 

Snapping out of the brief reverie, she gathered her empty water vessels to fill from the water set aside for the unclean. Her supply was running low, making the trip unavoidable. 

Covering her head and wrapping in a thick outer garment, she began the long walk. Sliding along the shadows and avoiding eye contact, she carefully navigated the path ahead. Glancing up briefly she saw people step aside, turning their backs to avoid her. They didn’t understand her issue; even she couldn’t offer an explanation. Public rejection caused her intense anguish. Her grief was still an open wound and hope of reprieve but just a tiny flicker. 

The atmosphere was noticeably different in the marketplace and the air seemed on fire. Slowing her pace, she overheard the excitement in people’s voices.

“……a Healer…..”

“The Savior….”

“……and did you hear about the miracle……”

“…….of Nazareth, the carpenter’s boy, is here.”

This wasn’t the first time she heard of this Jesus. From birth her parents taught her the Scriptures, how to pray, and spoke of a coming Messiah. She was aware of the commotion surrounding Jesus and the people’s conflicting beliefs of His claims. Hearing Jesus was close, her chest tightened as if her heart was going to burst. She had to see Him.

The water would wait.

Backtracking, she tossed the water jugs by her door and started out again, this time with urgency. Her leaden feet quickened, pounding years of heartache into the ground beneath her sandals. 

As the woman ran toward the growing crowd of people she could feel Him near. She couldn’t see His face but didn’t need to; His presence surrounded her. The air thick with sweat and desperation, she pushed her way forward.

“If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.” The thought replayed over and over. Her mind knew it and her heart believed. Each labored breath drew her closer to Him. Barely squeezing through the now crushing masses, she was undaunted by gasps from people she touched. 

And there He was. Walking and talking, His face turned in deep conversation with His companions. She inhaled sharply.

All of a sudden dirt coated her teeth. Shoved hard from behind, she had fallen, her knees and palms stinging from newly torn flesh. Scrambling with her last remaining energy, she lunged out to reach Him. 

Her fingertips grazed the frayed hem of his cloak.

Every sinew tingled, every deeply etched furrow softened. Her lungs gulped clean air and the supple skin of youth replaced what moments ago was tired, ashen and dry. Color returned to her eyes. The wellspring of total restoration coursed through her veins. 

She knew.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, tears formed in the corners of her eyes. He stopped, searching the crowd. She no longer heard the deafening noise around them but only His voice asking “Who touched me?” With the number of people surrounding Him, picking out a single person would have been impossible.

But He knew. 

And she knew. 

Trembling, she crawled to Him and, in barely a whisper, affirmed to Him it was she who had touched His clothes. Raising her tear-stained face to His radiant smile, she poured out her heart. 

His loving eyes never moved from her. Despite the continued clamor, He listened intently as though it were only her and Him on that dusty road. When she finished, His clear, gentle voice floated down to her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  

Staring deep in His eyes she knew He was who He said. He was the Messiah. He had healed her physical affliction and her deeply wounded spirit.

With that, He continued on the path, the crowd moving with Him. Weeping, she rose and watched as her Healer, the Son of God, got farther and farther away. Unfazed by her presence, followers jostled past her, vying to get closer to Jesus. Reveling in human touch, she savored each push and shove.

Incomparable joy overflowed from deep within her, bursting out in laughter and shouting praise.

The woman stood in the place of her miracle until she could no longer see the crowd. Then turning, she walked boldly into her new life. 

(Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 8:42-48)