On Your Mark
A Desperate Woman
So Jesus went with him [Jairus]. A large crowd followed and
pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for
twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and
had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. (Mark
Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, pleads with Jesus to come
to his home and heal his dying daughter. Jesus responds to the emergency.
Whatever else His plans were for that day, they are laid aside. Jairus has made
a 911 call, and Jesus answers — not with words, but with deeds, for He
“went with him.”
But there’s an impediment — much like an ambulance
trying to thread its way down a narrow street blocked by traffic on all sides.
This time, however, the traffic jam comes not from automobiles, but from
people. The crowd not only followed but “pressed around him” — that is to
say, they were in the back, at the sides and in front of Him. A circle of
humanity pressing in to see Him, touch Him, cry out to Him.
It’s a slow-motion dream for Jairus. He’s in a hurry to get
Jesus to his little girl. That’s how we feel sometimes: “Hurry up, Jesus. I’m
desperate. Come to my home right now. Fly up over the crowd and all the things
You’re tending to and come to my aid.”
As desperate as your need is, there are others equally
desperate. Mark’s camera zooms in on a woman in the crowd. Like Jairus, she’s
in great distress.
We know from later in the story that Jairus’ daughter was
12. The desperate woman lived in a parallel universe in which she suffered for
12 years. All the while the little girl was growing up in a privileged home,
the woman had been isolated through her ritual impurity. No doubt others blamed
her and said she was sick because there was sin in her life or she didn’t have
We do know her life savings had been exhausted on medical
care and she only had grown worse. Dr. Luke, in defense of the medical establishment,
noted that “no one could heal her” (Luke 8:43); in other words, no physician
had a remedy for her condition. You can only imagine the despair in this woman
as, year after year, she dealt with the false hopes raised at the beginning of
each new treatment with each new specialist, and then faced renewed depression
when the treatment ended and the disease was worse.
For twelve years she had chased a cure. Medical costs then,
as now, were expensive. To preserve her life, she gradually divested herself of
all her assets, and in doing so had lost both her wealth and her health.
The magnificent thing about her, however, is that despite
her suffering, despite spending all she had in seeking a cure, despite getting
worse than better — she still had not given up!
That’s the state we find her in when she presses through the
crowd toward Jesus.
When you suffer for a long time, it’s the easiest thing in
the world to throw in the towel, to say, “I’m defeated.” This woman could have
remained in her house, bolted the door, shuttered the blinds and said, “Life’s
over. I’m done.”
We learn from her example. No matter how many setbacks
you’ve experienced — never give up, never give in. Jesus is passing your
A Prayer of Response
Lord Jesus, the easier thing for me to do is throw up my
hands and quit. I get discouraged, Lord, when the harder I try the worse I get.
Help me to emulate the courage of this woman who — in the face of every
adverse circumstance — never gave up.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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