New Compassions

A crowd lies between the woman and Jesus.  In her hopeless situation she has finally come to see that he is her only hope–everything and everyone else has failed her. But the mass presses in on all sides; it is impossibly thick. In her condition she has barely the strength to walk, let alone push through that rabble. When a man of importance arrives he is able to push aside enough of the throng to make his way to Jesus. The woman tries to seize the opportunity to follow in behind him but the crowd crushes close in and she is left out.

An unexpected hush in the crowd allows her to hear the man’s earnest entreaty, “Please come…” and Jesus turns with him to go the other way. At this change the crowd‘s pressing lightens for a moment, and the woman, hardly knowing what she will do, slips between the people toward Jesus’ retreating figure. She catches a glimpse of his flowing robes and presses forward.

She reasons, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Stumbling through the crowd a few final paces, she reaches out, her fingers lightly brushing a corner of his cloak.

Like lightening, a surge of power flows into her weak body.  Warmth and vigor course through her and the pain and suffering of twelve long years instantly disappear. She feels free, and well, and strong.

At her touch, Jesus immediately turns around asking, “Who touched my clothes?” All eyes turn to him, but he is looking directly at the woman. She feels her blood run cold in fear. What if he is angry? How could she have been so bold and presumptuous?  How did he know she had touched the merest corner of his cloak?

I love this next part of the story. I love the vulnerability of the woman and Jesus’ response to her. Knowing she cannot hide from this miracle-working man the woman falls at his feet, and, “trembling with fear, (tells) him the whole truth”. His reaction?

“Daughter, your faith has healed you Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

No condemnation. No anger. No reproach. Just compassion. Just overwhelming love, acceptance, and recognition of the incredible value of her faith in Him. He blesses her with peace and freedom and release from suffering.

It reminds me of a beautiful passage in the somewhat obscure Old Testament book of Lamentations; “I remember my afflictions and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Did you hear that? Read it again. His compassions are unfailingly new every morning. Regardless of our troubles, our disappointments, the messes we make and the hopelessness of our situation, God finds new ways to express his compassion to us every day.

Doubt and fear threaten to crowd out our awareness of His compassion, but it is always there waiting for us. It’s long past time to give up seeking other avenues for help; they leave us impoverished and merely extend our suffering. Look to Him. Reach out and touch the slightest access of Him you think you can reach. He feels your need and His compassionate power will engulf you and meet you where you are. Not only that but He is more than ready to be a Father to you, to call you ‘daughter’ or ‘son’.  Are you ready for that kind of compassion? He is.

(You’ll find this amazing story in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, verses 24-34. Google it and enjoy it in its original version!)

(Credit for photo: the guardian.com)

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