I was at a church service on Sunday (visiting my in-laws) where we – adults and children alike – were asked to choose our favourite miracles. The variety was enormous, from the nature-defying walking on water to the very personal weeping that Jesus did before raising his friend to life.
My favourite miracle is the healing of the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:24-34) – although I think calling a twelve year period an “issue of blood” is a bit of an understatement (if you ever needed proof that the Bible was written by men, here it is!).
Jesus is amazing. There is no way around that, and I love the way each miracle shows something more of Him. But actually, the reason this miracle is my favourite isn’t because of Him, it’s because of her. Her complete lack of self-worth speaks to me. Everything and everyone around her told her she was unclean. She had probably gone without a conversation for years. She couldn’t have worked, probably wouldn’t have married, and as well as feeling unacceptable on the inside she probably felt pretty rotten and dirty physically too. The Law said she was unapproachable, so she wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the temple to celebrate the Sabbath. Imagine that – being told you aren’t even worthy enough to set foot in a church. Even touching the cloak of Jesus would have been monumentally difficult, knowing that her ‘period cooties’ were seen as catching.
And yet, Jesus felt her presence and knew what she needed from a single touch of his cloak. The miracle here for me isn’t that she was cured from the constant bleeding. The miracle is that He healed her from the bounds of shame that had been robbing her of life for twelve unimaginably long years. She who had been afflicted not just with with bleeding but with loneliness had the King of Kings feel her, see her, look into her eyes and heart, and speak.
There are times when I feel like that nameless, faceless woman. I wonder if I’m worth God’s time, and whether I’m really as squeaky clean as those around me. I wonder if by asking for a miracle I’m keeping him from something more important (in this account Jesus is on His way to heal a young girl). And yet I can honestly say that the times I’ve keenly experienced being loved by Jesus are when I’ve really gone for it – pressing in even when I think I shouldn’t.
Miracles are tricky things. We can’t force them – it’s impossible to ‘steal’ a miracle from God. They don’t always happen the way we want them to, and we can pray for years without any visible change to our circumstances. And yet I will never stop reaching for the hem of His garment. Shame means nothing when compared with the power of Jesus to feel us reaching out, and really see us.