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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 5:24-26, NIV)

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 faith.

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 way today.

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 of God.

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