This morning, as I read in Luke, I came upon this story:
On a Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
The story goes on, as typical for these kinds of stories, with the synagogue rulers indignant and ticked off that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. And then, of course, Jesus rebukes them basically saying, “you care more for your animals than you do for the needs of a person.”
Two main things caught my attention with this passage. First of all, it was a Sabbath and Jesus always seemed to be doing things that the Pharisees didn’t like on the Sabbath. But more, so this phrase caught my eye… and my heart:
This woman, had probably lost all hope of being healed. Seriously, eighteen years… that’s a long time. And going back to the other thing that caught my attention… this was a Sabbath… even if this woman knew who Jesus was and had any hope that maybe healing could be provided, she probably would have never thought that healing would come today of all days… it was a Sabbath. I imagine, any hope that was there, was very small. Yet, I do believe there was hope.
If there was no hope, then why was this woman who had suffered from an evil spirit for so long even AT the synagogue that day? In my opinion, she had long-term hope. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, SOMEDAY I will be healed.
As I think about this story, I think about people I know and love and care about who have been suffering for a long time. Whether the struggle is physical, spiritual, or emotional, as each day passes without relief, hope slowly fades. “It’s already been so long,” their minds protest. “How could healing EVER come now?”
Yet, God doesn’t call us to understand.. he calls us to trust him. Our healing may not come today. Our healing may not come tomorrow or next year, or even in this life time. But even if it doesn’t, we continue to ask God to give us what we need to remain faithful and trust. We ask God to help us to come into his presence, like this woman did, time and time again, knowing that in your time and in your way, you will call us forward and say, “My son… My daughter… you are set free from your infirmity.”
God, please give us hope for today… and tomorrow…. and the next day… and the next day… and the next day… until THAT day:
“Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching head.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Rev. 7:16-17)