Labeled and No Good

My first vivid memory of broken things is from when I was four years old. I was taking a casserole dish back to our neighbor. She had been so kind and brought dinner over when my younger brother was born. The last words my father said to me as I scooted out the door were, “Don’t drop it.” I made it across the yard and as I turned around her car, I heard a loud crash. There at my feet was the casserole dish in a billion pieces. A billion pieces is an exaggeration. However, to a four-year-old child it might as well have been a billion pieces! So I did what any problem-solving child would do. I ran home, crying, and hid under my bed. My father somehow convinced me not only to come out from underneath my hiding place but to also go with him to tell the neighbor about her broken dish. I have no memory of the exact conversation but I do remember her chatting calmly with my dad and sweeping up the glass.

Where are you hiding? What do you hide behind? Why are you afraid? I have known about a certain woman for most of my life. Recently, I have wondered what it would be like to have known her personally. Part of me can relate to a piece of her life story. Specifically, this woman’s sense of separation and belief that everyone else’s crisis was more important than her own. Jesus’ disciples Matthew, Mark, and Luke introduce us to this woman. We do not know her name but we are told about her problem. Her problem was chronic. Her problem left her feeling hopeless and isolated. Luke introduces her this way, “And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed of any” (Luke 8:43, ESV). We find this woman’s story tucked quietly inside this passage of Scripture where Jesus had calmed a raging storm that terrified his disciples, cast out demons that had tormented a man for years, and was heading to the house of Jarius, whose daughter was dying. While this woman may have broken all protocol that day and joined the crowd, she was desperate. She may have come thinking Jesus was her last hope. I wonder at what point she knew He was her only hope.

Have you thought that your crisis was not as important or as dramatic as others’? I have thought about this woman through the years and wondered if she almost talked herself out of going to see Jesus. I don’t know what gave her the courage she needed that day to make her way through the crowds of people. Had she heard that he had calmed the raging storm? Had she overheard others talking about the demon-possessed man who was now in his right mind? As she made her way through the crowd did she overhear Jarius’ plea for Jesus to come very quickly to his house and heal his dying daughter? Was she afraid that someone would realize she was amongst the crowd and make her leave at once? Perhaps she had family and friends who encouraged her to go see Jesus because, if he could heal the sick, then just maybe he might be able to heal her. Her crisis labeled her unclean. That is what a crisis does: it labels.

Divorce is my label. Maybe drug abuser is your label. The alcoholic label you wish you could rid yourself of remains because others have a hard time letting it go. Maybe you think that others see your silent label of the child abuse you suffered and you live with shame. You may be desperately wanting to tell the truth behind your label of anger and depression but are fearful of others knowing about the abortion you had. Too many labels to list and too much pain carried by the individuals who wear them…but all desire to be made whole. This woman’s label was a problem not only for her, but also for others. If she touched anyone else, that person was made unclean for an amount of time. For her to make her way through a crowd was not easy or accepted. Furthermore, this woman was broke. Luke tells us that she had spent all she had on doctors. No one could help her. A crisis will have you looking for help at any cost. A crisis will label your life whether you want it to or not. On this particular day the woman had Nehemiah’s brand of courage when he risked his life going before the king with a sad countenance. (Neh 2)

This woman went to Jesus, risking condemnation from those she might contaminate. Maybe she thought she could make her way through the crowd unseen and quietly leave after touching the hem of his garment. Everything she thought could happen did not happen and everything she hoped to happen did happen. I wonder if she ever thought that she would have Jesus’ undivided attention. Yet that is exactly what had to happen! No one can enter into the presence of the King of Kings and be made whole without having his undivided attention.

(this is an excerpt from Joy’s book, Identity Crisis)

you can pre-order Identity Crisis: Moving From Crisis to Credibility at Amazon.