"As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years."
Luke 8:42, 43, New International Version
"Touch" - To cause or permit a body part, especially the hands or fingers, to come in contact with, and then to feel or have an emotional effect on someone.
Will I let Jesus touch the disappointment I feel in my life?
"Disappointment" - To fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation.
"How disappointment tracks the steps of hope."
Over the past few weeks, many of you have written to me describing places in your life that hurt. Those places where you long to have Jesus' healing touch relieve your pain. There is one Bible story that I know I can relate to, and I'm praying you will as well. For the next few days, before we begin studying about David and Bathsheba, I want to take time to address the hurting that so many women feel today.
Her story begins in Luke 8: 42, 43. The day she began to bleed she didn't think much about it. Women her age bled every month. It was normal. But then something strange happened - she kept bleeding. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. The Bible tells us that for twelve long, miserable years, her problem continued. No matter what doctor she visited, no matter what treatment she tried - nothing helped. The words of L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables are a fitting way to describe the hemorrhaging woman's situation: "My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes." And when all hope is gone - the soil in our lives becomes fertile ground for the seed of disappointment to take root and flourish.
Just imagine yourself in this situation. Separated from family and friends. Unable to touch those you love. Forbidden to enter a place of worship. Regarded by society as an "unclean" person who would pollute anyone and anything you touched. Life certainly would not have turned out as you thought it would. And so you are disappointed. The doctors' promises of healing haven't helped and you are discouraged.
If, like this woman, you have searched for and prayed for a miracle in your life - a cure that will stop the bleeding, whatever it is, you may at this moment find yourself covered by a blanket of disappointment, especially when the help you have asked for seems to be denied.
I know what disappointment feels like. Lying in a hospital bed for four months gives you a plate full of disappointment. The questions flood your mind, "How could this happen? Why did it happen?"
We may be fellow travelers down "Disappointment Avenue." If so, I want to share with you what I have learned from my own experience and those of others on how to let Jesus touch the wound of disappointment.
Several months before the car accident that nearly killed my husband and me, I was sitting in a Bible Study Class. One of the older members, a gentleman I had known since I was a child spoke up. Our discussion was about God's care and concern. For several years, Ed had been struggling with heart problems, including having to undergo several major surgeries.
This is what he chose to share with us. In a very thoughtful and reflective way Ed commented, "If there were no heaven - no afterlife - no reward when you die, I still would choose to follow Jesus here on earth for I can't imagine going through the last two years of my life without Him. His friendship throughout my life is reward enough for me."
I was surprised by his remark until one day when I was trying to navigate from the dressing room at the Rehabilitation Hospital to the swimming pool in my wheelchair. I couldn't get everything to work right and then just as I finally thought I had the wheelchair pointed in the right direction, I accidentally bumped my broken leg into the wall. It wasn't pretty. I'm thankful I was the only person in the room at the time. I screamed at God, "How could you let this happen?" as though He was pushing my wheelchair. Talk about disappointment and complete frustration. I was at my wits end. But as the tears started to pour down my cheeks, two little words came into my mind, "Jesus wept," (John 11:35).
The Creator of the universe, the Son of God, willingly walked on earth feeling the disappointment, the frustration, and the pain that sin has inflicted and it brought Him to tears. Real ones - just like mine.
Christian theologian Jurgen Moltmann wrote, "God weeps with us so that we may one day laugh with Him." Whether from our viewpoint our journey is taking us where we think it should, God is there every step of the way.
Several years ago, a close friend confided she was so disappointed by events in her life she decided to "toss God overboard." She had enough with feeling that nobody was listening and nobody cared. "One day," she shared, "after I decided I didn't need God anymore, I was driving down the road and this aloneness came over me like nothing I had ever experienced before. All of a sudden, I wanted to talk to God. I didn't want to be without Him ever again."
In his thought-provoking book, Disappointment With God, author Philip Yancey offers this perspective, "The alternative to disappointment with God seems to be disappointment without Him." It is this very realization that prompted my friend Ed to come to the conclusion that having the presence of God in your life on this earth - is worth everything. I believe this is why a bleeding woman, who had suffered year after year, had gone from doctor to doctor, and who had spent every cent she had - and yet had come up empty - did not let her disappointment keep her from seeking and accepting the touch of Jesus. We are told the result: "The woman touched His coat. At that moment, her bleeding stopped" (Luke 8:44).
Don't ever let life's disappointments keep you from letting Jesus' touch heal the bleeding in your life, too.
"It is indeed natural to us to wish and to plan, and it is merciful in the Lord to disappoint our plans, and to cross our wishes. For we cannot be safe, much less happy, but in proportion as we are weaned from our own wills, and made simply desirous of being directed by His guidance.
I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied, that had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or at least it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. We judge of things by their present appearances, but the Lord sees them in their consequences, if we could do so likewise we should be perfectly of His mind; but as we cannot, it is an unspeakable mercy that He will manage for us, whether we are pleased with His management or not."
Letter from John Milton
"When yearning for a miraculous resolution to a problem, do we make our loyalty to God contingent on whether He reveals Himself yet again … if we insist on visible proofs from God, we may well prepare the way for a permanent state of disappointment. True faith does not so much attempt to manipulate God to do our will as it does to position us to do His will."
Disappointment With God
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.