And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and
touched his garment. 28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32And he looked around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Written by Abi
Throughout the past few weeks we have been wrestling with the question, “What is Health?” Thinking through this question, we have spent a lot of time looking at Jesus and His ministry. Last week we looked at the above passage in depth, attempting to understand the woman, as well as the way Jesus interacted with her, and healed her to wholeness. You see, Jesus was definitely a healer of the body, but this was only part of how he healed. The full extent of how Jesus healed came to life to me as we looked at her condition.
Her illness was alienating: As if the probable pain and associated complications of her illness such as anemia were not enough, due to the strict observance of the law, the nature of her condition caused her to be unclean. One could not touch her without becoming unclean as well, and anything she touched was instantly unclean. As a result, she was most likely separated from her family, stripped of the most basic staple of human companionship. Not only that, but due to her uncleanness she was unable to worship in the temple, or to offer sacrifice to her God. Culturally and religiously, this was absolutely devastating.
Her ailment was chronic. She had been living with this issue for 12 years. And for twelve long years she had sought an answer for her problem, going from physician to specialist, spending all she had, and enduring exam after exam, proposed solution followed by failed attempt. And yet still seeking, for her only hope was that one of these times the solution would prove true.
Last week I sat in a small examining room in Ntagatcha Tanzania. I saw woman after woman who reminded me of this woman in a striking way.
After advertising and promoting this clinic featuring 5 American doctors, crowds came from miles and miles away with expectation. Unlike the normal visits we receive at either clinic I have recently worked at, these people were different. The large majority of these patients had been struggling with their ailment for long periods of time. One woman came for answers with her abdominal pain she had suffered with for 3 years, another had been suffering for ten years, and still others had been dealing with the same issue for decades.
Many had tried many solutions. They went to other clinics, to the hospital, and many to a Shaaman, but to no avail. Then they heard of the doctors who had traveled from America. These patients were willing to wait hours, and some even days to be seen. Why? Because many still had not received the answers they sought, and hope of finding someone who had the answer drove them to travel, and to wait. In the story, the woman had such faith that she recklessly sought out Jesus. The crowds were pressing in from every side, yet this woman aggressively found herself next to Jesus, breaking the law of uncleanness which had bound her. After 12 years she found the hope she had been looking for, and with faith reached out and touched His robe.
Instantly she was healed! [By the law-that touch would have made Jesus unclean. Yet in that instance, the touch made her clean. Wow.] Yet Jesus did not stop there. He asked a question. Who touched me? Didn’t Jesus know who she was? Did He not know her chronic condition? Yes, I think He did. But his question had purpose. He asked a question, because he knew the woman needed more than physical healing.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus often asked questions. This is part of the model he was laying out for His followers throughout His ministry. Jesus’ questions led her to tell Him all about her story. It says she told Him her “whole story”. I imagine this involved the lack of health in other areas of her life. The emotional hurt that went along with her isolation, her struggle with trusting God, etc. She had been physically healed with a touch, yet Jesus imparted peace and healing that reached to all areas of her life.
Considering our emphasis on on whole person health over the past weeks, our days of the clinic last week proved to be a valuable learning experience. Ours is a westernized education influenced by a “western” worldview which causes us to struggle a bit with the practice of whole person healthcare. This is especially difficult in a different culture. In the moment it is so easy to look at only the physical, and feel helpless when we can offer no relief. Yet as a team, this realization and understanding of whole person care was very much in our thoughts as we went about our day.
After the fourth and final day of the clinic, as we sat around as a group to debrief, stories began to surface of how deeper issues came to light as questions were asked. In several circumstances, patients came to Christ through the questions and care of our team. Bwana Asifiwe [Praise the Lord!]
Pray for our team! The VCOM med students [and wives] and Jordan are now back in the US. Their challenge is now to enter back into American culture and school, while continuing to explore how to incorporate the Biblical Worldview into medical practice and public health.
Brittney, Steph, Faith, Laura, Amber (yet to arrive) and I will continue here for a time. We also are thinking through how our practice Stateside will be affected, yet are blessed with more time here in Ntagatcha to continue to learn. The truth that keeps resurfacing is how our love and care for people should be an overflow from the love and work of the Lord in the inner life. Pray for us as we continue to learn Swahili, culture, and most importantly seek to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him.