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Sunday Devotional 19 July 2020

Dear Friends,

There was a woman in the Bible (Luke 8:42b-48) who wanted help from Jesus, wanted him to do a miracle, to change her life, but she was, perhaps, too ashamed of her condition, or too afraid of Jesus, or what other people might think, that she didn’t want to go openly to Jesus and tell him what she hoped he would do for her. She was probably embarrassed because she was suffering from a gynaecological problem - she had been bleeding for twelve years.

And there was another reason why she would be reluctant to go to Jesus openly. Her condition made her a social pariah. She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, touch anyone, even her husband, and she couldn’t go near the synagogue or the Temple. Her medical problem made her isolated. She couldn’t go anywhere or touch anyone. If the medical condition wasn’t bad enough she probably suffered depression because of the isolation caused by the religious and social rules.

She had got to the point where she was pretty much hopeless until she heard about Jesus - heard that he was healing people. But could she, should she, go and ask him to heal her? She wasn’t supposed to touch anyone and no-one was supposed to touch her. There would be a crowd, he was very popular, but they needn’t know that an unclean woman was touching them. But Jesus, if she told him what was wrong, then he’d know; know she was unclean. Would he touch her? And if he didn’t, could she be healed? For a moment she had had hope, but then her doubts and fears began to dash her hopes. That’s not a new problem, people begin to hope in Jesus and then they start to doubt, doubt Jesus, but more often doubt themselves, ‘I’m not good enough.’ ‘Why would Jesus bother with me.’ ‘What will other people say?’ These are twenty-first century problems, not just first century ones and they are reasons some people won’t seek help from Jesus.

But this woman decided that she’d try it anyway. She thought to herself, ‘I’ll do it in secret. With all the crowd around him, he’ll never know I’ve touched him and maybe just that touch will be enough to heal me of the bleeding and the depression that goes with it. She would come to him, just as she was and hope for the best.

JUST AS I AM, without one plea

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not

To rid my soul of one dark blot,

To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871)

It’s interesting that this story is all about social distancing; to touch or not to touch, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’. And the woman’s isolation had an effect on her mental state. After twelve years of not being able to touch anyone and not being able to find anyone to help her, to heal her, she was desperate enough to go out into a crowd and see if Jesus could help.

She was an ordinary woman, but her condition had left her depressed, frightened and unsure of herself. Sound familiar? We were ordinary people going about our lives in the ordinary way, when suddenly all that stopped and a condition came into all our lives which changed them. And we grieved for the old life. Just as in a bereavement, we first denied that it could be happening. Then we got angry; with the Government; with our neighbours; with our friends and family. Then we bargained; God if you will do a miracle and take all this away, I will: … Trust you more? Change my ways? Help others more? Then, as the days dragged on, we became depressed and finally, things become easier and we accept.

The woman with an issue of blood had, very likely, been through all this, but she hadn’t quite come to acceptance. There might be a way out if she could trust Jesus. So as she touched the edge of his cloak and Jesus, knowing that power had gone out from him, asked, ‘Who touched me’, she had to reveal herself. Reveal all that was going on inside, to Jesus.

GOD OF GRACE, I turn my face

To You, I cannot hide;

My nakedness, my shame, my guilt,

Are all before Your eyes.

Strivings and all anguished dreams

In rags lie at my feet,

And only grace provides the way

For me to stand complete.

And Your grace clothes me in righteousness,

And Your mercy covers me in love.

Your life adorns and beautifies,

I stand complete in You.

Chris Bowater © 1990 Sovereign Lifestyle Music.

But, big but, she had been healed before she revealed herself and her problems. The power of the Spirit of Jesus had healed her. We may be going through one of the stages of bereavement for our old lives that I mentioned before, but Jesus knows. We only have to reach out to him, metaphorically “touch the edge of his garment” and he can heal us, change our state of mind and we can go in peace.

Peace to you.

We bless you now in the name of the Lord.

Peace to you.

We bless you now in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Peace to you.

Graham Kendrick. Make Way Music.

Rev. Kathy Williamson

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