A Season of Suffering – Meeting Jesus in Our Pain

Suffering is a part of life. It seems that even in the best of times, we all suffer in one way or another.

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve year. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors…she grew worse.” (Mark 5:25)

Amid the joy and victory found in its pages, the Bible contains many accounts of suffering. Human pain flows throughout the Bible like an underground spring which rises to the surface here and there. Amidst the God’s blessings to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph suffered greatly. And despite the promised hope of a newborn Messiah, Jesus suffered too. The disciples—given new life through the Holy Spirit—faced hardship, rejection, and pain. The Bible echoes with the suffering we experience in our own lives.

In Gospel of Mark, we read of a woman who “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years (Mark 5:25).” Mark tells us very little about her.  We don’t know her name, whether she is a Jew or Gentile. We don’t know if she is single, married, or widowed. What we do know is that “she had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had…” And we know that despite the medical care she sought, the woman did not get better, she got worse. In verse 26, Mark tells us that she “had spent all she had” trying to find a solution to her suffering. She must have been a wealthy woman, but over the course of twelve years she had spent it all on medical bills. In those twelve years she lost both her health and wealth.

The Bible echoes with the suffering we experience in our own lives.

Yet, in Mark, we find this same woman in the crowd gathered around Jesus. And it was a risk to be there. Because of her bleeding, Jewish law considered her unclean, just as a leper was unclean (Leviticus 15:25.) Not only that but anyone who touched the bed she in slept in or touched the seat in which she sat was considered unclean, too. According to the law, she was to be separated from others so she would not make them unclean (Leviticus 14:31). Yet . . . there she was . . . in the crowd that gathered around Jesus. Why?

She was looking for relief, release from her suffering. After twelve long years of bleeding, just imagine how exhausted she must have felt. She’d tried to get relief from doctors, but that was unsuccessful. After so long a struggle against suffering, it is little wonder why she turned to Jesus. The woman had heard about Jesus and the miraculous things he was doing. And more importantly, she believed. She believed that Jesus had the power to free her from her suffering. She believed that an encounter with Jesus could change her life.

Jaris, the synagogue leader, was also there in the crowd that surrounded Jesus. He, too, believed in the power of Jesus. He’d asked Jesus to heal his daughter of her suffering. In fact, the encounter between the woman with the issue of blood and Jesus occurred as Jesus was on his way to heal a little girl. Here in these few verses we find two interwoven stories that give us a glimpse of the power of Jesus: The woman who had bled for twelve years was freed from her suffering when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. The daughter of Jairus who’d died before Jesus reached her bedside, was raised from the dead through that same power.


God Redeems Our Pain

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Consider the great differences in their social standing.  A woman, marginalized by society, who dared not speak to Jesus or even draw attention to herself in the crowd that gathered around Him.  And a man, well known and respected by society, who acknowledged the authority of Jesus and humbled himself before Him.  Despite their differences, they shared a common belief in of Jesus.  So, that woman came to Jesus seeking an ease to her suffering and that man came seeking an ease to the suffering of his daughter.  And at the intersection of their faith and their need, they both witnessed the power of Jesus in their lives.

Just imagine!  What a blessing it must have been to know, firsthand, that the love and compassion of Jesus was extended to all who came to him.  For none was excluded.  Even now, we, too, can come to Jesus.  Whether we feel outcast and marginalized or have position and prestige – or somewhere in between the two – the power of Jesus that eased their suffering is available to us today.

“But how?” You may ask. “How can I touch Jesus as the woman did or speak to Jesus as Jaris did?  Through prayer.  You can “speak” to Jesus and “touch” Him in  prayer. “But how do I pray?”  That’s easy.  Prayer is a conversation we have with Jesus.  A conversation in which we express our desires, our needs, our fears, our thankfulness, and our hopes, believing that our prayers will be heard and answered.  In our season of suffering, we can pray to Jesus; for the power of Jesus is made manifest in prayer.  And whether we are released from our sufferings or find solace in the midst of them, Jesus has the power to set us free.