short fiction

It Had to be Blood

 I can't shake her from my mind--the woman with the bleeding issue. Over the past several days, I've read and reread the accounts given in Matthew 9, Mark 5 and Luke 9. I weep every time. This woman and I share a lot of common ground. We've both been sick a very long time. (My allergies have been out of control for almost a decade.) Doctors and treatments fail again and again, and sometimes bring more suffering. We're lonely, not actively a part of the world in which we live. And we're desperate for a healing a touch.

Oh, how my heart resonates with this woman's song. Though she bore sorrows I do not--my friends and family have rallied around me with encouragement and prayer, and I have one very good doctor--I've felt many of her feelings and have thought several of her thoughts.

Today, I sat with pen and paper, determined to get into her mind, and bled onto the page--

"It Had To Be Blood"

Twelve years.
Twelve long years.
Will it ever end?
The weakness,
the pain,
the loneliness that swallows like a pit?
One by one, dreams turn to ash,
disappointments mount,
hopes sicken and die.
I no longer search for doctors.
There have been so many.
So many.
And I confound them all.
After giving them everything I had,
the treatments failed
and made me worse.
My people disowned me long ago,
cast me off--
illegitimate and unwanted.
No one looks me in the eye
as if my shame is catching.
Why did it have to be blood?
Why did it have to be me?
My bone and soul grow weary
of the never-ending flow.
Death would be a welcome friend,
but as with all my friends,
I'm utterly forgotten,
left alone to bleed.

There's a whisper on the street--
Jesus is coming!
The One who heals!
I peer outside.
The crowd is thick.
Jairus is with Him;
He's busy with important matters
with clean and lofty folk.
He won't stop for me....
unless I run to Him.
My feet move out my door.
My heart and head pound
to a rhythm I've never heard
and have always known:
If only I could touch Him--
I would be made well! 
If only I could touch Him--
I would be made well!
The noise in the street falls silent on my ears.
I only hear the music that carries me along:
If only I could touch Him--
I would be made well!
Today, my shame is my friend.
Bodies make way to avoid my touch.
My blood makes me dirty.
It can make them dirty, too.

I find myself at His back.
I long to see His face,
yet I know I cannot bear His eyes
beholding my disgrace.
If only I could touch Him--
I would be made well!
The home of Jairus now in sight,
what dignity remains is gone.
And reaching out with expectation,
my fingers brush my Savior's hem. 
I'm met with a jolt,
a surge I can't explain.
I'm well.
I stop and marvel.
I mean to disappear,
but cannot move.
He stops, too.
"Who touched Me?"
His voice rises above the clamor.
My breath catches.
I who am unclean have touched a rabbi!
Trembling with fear,
I try to hide among the bodies,
but they don't let me in.
I turn to run, but I'm trapped
in His gaze
where I stand.
So I fall
at His feet.
My story pours from my mouth,
a hemorrhage of the soul.
In His sights, I know--
though I'm well, I'm not.
I'm still dirty.

There's nothing to left to say.
I feel impatience from the throng.
The Man must have a mission
of tremendous importance.
I stare at His feet, which do not turn.
"Daughter," He calls me.
In all my words did I tell Him
my father rejected me long ago?
That I belong to no one?
Surely, I hadn't exposed
so old and deep a wound!
Yet in His address, I know He knows,
and He claims me as His own.
Amongst stamping feet and furrowed brows,
there's no hurry in His voice.
I look into His eyes and see my need--
I need Him!
"Your faith has made you well.
Go in peace.
Your suffering is over."

Twelve years.
Twelve long years.
Twelve years of terrible suffering--
Weakness, pain, and loneliness--
Dreams fulfilled.
Disappointment dead.
Hope restored.
Healed, accepted, wanted.
Alive for the first time!
"Your daughter is dead,"
the servant said.
And I remember--
the daughter of Jairus is sick.
Twelve years.
Twelve brief years.
It's no time at all.
A hush falls upon the crowd,
and we hear Him say,
"Do not be afraid. Only believe."
He turns to go and somehow I know
because He's with her,
she will be well.
Because He's with us,
all will be well.

I couldn't know then,
but the day was coming
upon which I'd better understand
the design in my disease.
My blood made me dirty,
unfit for the house of God.
He dried up my fountain,
bound up my wounds,
and made me clean--
But real cleansing was coming
for all sin-stained robes
upon Calvary
where the world healed by His wounds.
Clean in the Fount
of His Blood.
It had to be blood.


I'm still in the midst of my "twelve years." I no longer believe in a cure for my disease, whatever it is. All out of options, I am going to Jesus for help. I am reaching for His hem. As Timothy Keller points out in the chapter entitled "The Waiting" in King's Cross, "When you go to Jesus for help, you get from him far more than you had in mind. But when you go to Jesus for help, you also end up giving to him far more than you expected to give."

 I don't know what more He is going to ask, but for now He is looking into my eyes saying, "Trust Me." I don't understand the delay, but I do trust His heart. Whatever He asks, the reward far outweighs the cost. And maybe one day soon, I, too, will better understand the design in my disease.