It's tough for most of us to think about the bleeding woman just...going home. About her having to wait seven more days after Jesus healed her before she could go back out into the world. Any one of us who has ever dealt with any significant challenge in our lives knows what it feels like to want to claim victory at the first little taste of it, to be ready to move on as soon as possible.
And yet...we also understand that it's not that easy.
Any one of us who has ever faced a major battle knows that there remains, for awhile, this little bit of nervousness about whether or not it might be waiting just around the next corner. Every little blip on the radar for the next few weeks, the next few months, and we're nervous all over again. We're uncertain. We're afraid that our victory isn't as complete and full as we'd thought it would be, and we brace ourselves for battle again.
This is true even years after our healing, for some of us, at least. Think about the man who had a brain tumor and has gone into remission, but fifteen years later, he's got a headache he just can't shake. Is he healed? Or is he sick again? Think about the addict who hasn't had a pill in twenty years, but who just had surgery and was accidentally given medication she specifically requested not to receive. She does feel better, but is this the beginning of a relapse? Think about the person who had to learn to walk again after a significant car accident. All of a sudden, he trips over his own feet. Once. Is he prone to stumble? Was all of his hard work for nothing?
It's hard for us sometimes to believe in our healing. And I think that's true even if, like the bleeding woman, we know that Jesus is responsible for it. Even if we know in an instant that our battle is over, there's something in us that still struggles to let go of it. Can it really just be...over?
I want to say that it's a matter of faith. And it is, but it also isn't. It's a matter of being human. It's a matter of realizing how fragile our bodies really are, especially when they have been showing us that fragility for so long. Twelve years is a long time. At this point, this woman doesn't know how not to bleed. The sensation that she has of not bleeding is alone enough to probably trouble her, at least in that split second before she realizes and remembers what's really happening. What is that feeling? she probably asks herself a thousand times in a panic before remembering, Oh yeah. It's healing.
And that doesn't say anything at all about this woman's faith. It really doesn't. That she has to remember she's been healed doesn't mean that she questions Jesus's ability to heal her. Or His goodness in doing so. Or His power to do so completely. It means that, well, she's a human being in a human body, and it just takes some time to adjust to her human body doing something different than it has been doing for twelve long years.
I have to think that's what she was doing for seven days in her house. Seven long days after knowing - knowing - she was healed. I think...she was healing. I think she was investing herself in figuring out what it means to not be a bleeding woman any more. To think about what it might be like to go down and get water at the well or to sit at the mill and grind flour and talk about the events in town with all the other women - chatter that, for the first time in twelve years, won't contain gossip about her.
The truth is that healing, even miraculous healing, takes a lot of work. It takes a re-orienting of our lives. It takes our willingness to step into it. As courageous as it was for this woman to press through the crowds to touch Jesus, any one of us who has ever experienced a long and arduous battle for healing knows that it was just as hard, if not harder, for her to turn and take that first step away from Him. That first step back toward her life. That first step into day one after twelve long years.
Coming to Jesus is the easy part. Walking away healed is...so much harder.
And I know that it's strange to say that, but if you know what I'm talking about, then you get it. And I think that's why Jesus so often made healing its own separate act.
Wait...what? Yeah. Stay tuned.