Desperation and Faith

This morning I’m considering the story in Luke 8 about the woman who had the debilitating problem of a chronic flow of blood that had lasted twelve years. Luke’s text tells us that she had seen every physician she could find, had spent literally all her money on the search for a medical solution, and had come up empty, both financially and physically. 

Somehow, this woman hears that Jesus is in town. The gossip had spread, the word had gotten around that He was a healer, maybe the Messiah, and that amazing things seemed to happen whenever He showed up. So, she decided to go and see if she could encounter Him, and what might occur if she did.

This is where the story gets interesting to me. What kinds of emotions and thought processes were at work in this woman? Twelve years of unrelenting physical difficulty, weakness due to blood loss, despair due to economic impact, embarrassment at being in public with such a malady – all of these factors play into her decision to try to see Jesus. In a word, her situation was one of desperation. She had run out of options, and He was her one remaining hope.

It was under those circumstances that faith rose up in her heart, although I doubt that it felt like faith. My guess is that it felt more like the ragged despair of an “I’ll try just one more thing” reality, and that any feelings of confidence and positivity were off in the distance somewhere.

Her desperation caused her to force her way through the crowd, getting just close enough to touch the tassels attached to the hem of Jesus’ garment. Perhaps her thought was that if Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of Righteousness might indeed have healing in His “wings,” the picture Malachi painted so many years before as he spoke of the One the nation was looking for.

It worked. She touched His robe, power flowed out, and Jesus noticed. He turned to find her, and listened as she told the story of her desperate attempt to encounter Him. Jesus then declared that it was her faith that healed her, and she could now be cheerful, for her issue was resolved.

Desperate faith. Faith that will not be denied because there are no other options. Maybe – if we want greater faith – we’ll need to realize that the other options aren’t working that well, allow hunger and thirst for the Kingdom of God to grow, and approach Him with the desperation that He calls “faith.” Maybe then we’ll see what we say we want.

Gary Wiens

Gary Wiens, 2/18/2017