Friday, October 15, 2021

A Long Seven Days

The Gospels tell the story of a woman bleeding for twelve years. Chronically bleeding. She had spent all of her money on doctors, tried every snake oil and witch remedy and professional medicine known to her time, and they have all left her poor...and still bleeding. But she knew, she just knew, that if she pushed through these crowds, unclean as she was, and touched even the hem of Jesus's robe, she'd be healed. She just knew it. 

And so she did it. While Jesus was on His way to Jairus's house, this woman pushed through, making every single person in that crowd unclean, though they didn't know it. She knew it. Still, she pushed through. And she made it to Jesus. She took one last deep breath, reached out, touched His robe...and she knew. 

It was over. 

Except it wasn't. 

The Gospel writers tell us that this woman knew in that instant that she was healed; she felt it in the depths of her soul. And, well, her uterus. Jesus turned around and confirmed for her was she already knew; she was healed. He spoke those words out loud and so not only did this woman know it and not only did Jesus know it, but the entire crowd - disciples included - knew it. This woman was healed. Her twelve-year ordeal was finally over. 

Except it wasn't. 

For this woman lived in a strange sort of time. It was a time when the ministry of Jesus was just coming to fruition and when the tug of the old covenant was still strong on people's hearts. Jesus Himself was known to frequent the synagogues. Jesus quoted the Old Testament frequently.

And it was Jesus who told those He healed to go, present themselves to the priest and bring with them the offering of atonement for their uncleanness. 

Which means...this woman had seven more days to go. You see, under the Old Testament law, a woman was unclean during all of the days of her bleeding, whether it was a standard seven-ish or more than that. Once the bleeding stopped, she was to count off seven more days and then, on the eighth day, present herself to the priest and make atonement for her bleeding. Only then could she rejoin society. Only then would she truly be "clean." 

Seven days. Seven more days after twelve years. And I have to tell you, those were the longest seven days. 

They were. During those seven days, anything could happen. She knew she had been healed, but the devil can take a lot from you in seven days. He can take your confidence. He can take your assurance. He can take your healing. You just don't know. 

And I wonder what that woman did for seven more days. I wonder if she sat around worrying about what the priest might say when he sees her walk in. Would he even know her? How would she describe herself? How would she account for twelve years? Was she impatient? Could she not wait to get it over with? Was she nervous? Was she ready? Was she confident? 

What happens in seven long days, between the moment you know you are healed and the hour when you take your offering to God and prove it? 

It's a story for all of us living in the in-between. Because truth be told, I think more of us are living those seven days than we even realize.  

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