For she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
Matthew 9:21-22 (ESV)
Do you want to be happy?” The psychiatrist’s question sounded more like an accusation, and I sullenly mumbled something about happiness not being my MO. Though I cannot remember her exact response, the message was indelible: if I didn’t, she couldn’t help me. I glanced shamefully at my mother, who had already driven me hundreds of miles to other professionals, desperately hoping someone could lead me off this road of self-destruction. Now, as before, I could sense her silent pain–the pain of hope deferred.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” begins Proverbs 13:12, and don’t we all know this too well?
In the synoptic gospels, we meet someone who knew much about deferred hope: “And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:25-26). Twelve long years she had bled! Unclean, untouchable, physically ill, and socially isolated, she had sought help for over a decade and “could not be healed by anyone” (Luke 8:43). After all this, how sick must her heart have been?
Pain can make us numb or afraid to hope, but when we are anchored to the Author of Hope, He can guide us through our most painful circumstances. While this poor, hemorrhaging woman had no money left for doctors, she had enough hope left for a priceless faith in Jesus. When her hope hung by a thread, she bravely reached for the threads He wore, “the fringe of His garment,” and believed she’d be healed. When she fixed all her hope in Jesus, He healed her body–but also her heart.
And yes, I too eventually found healing in Jesus, not without pain, but also not without hope. At one excruciating point, my parents made the painful decision to leave me in treatment. Although it was late September, they returned home to find an Easter lily blooming in the garden amidst the dying flowers of late September. It was a sign of hope.
“… but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life,” reads the rest of Proverb 13:12, and don’t we also know this?
No matter how many times hope is deferred, it is never lost when placed in Jesus, the resurrected Tree of Life and Healer of broken hearts.
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