Twice in the new testament Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you.” I take this as significant about how healing works, and I can attest personally that faith is a very large aspect of obtaining healing in my own life. My path may have diverged on multiple occasions, but I never lost my faith in God. In the back of my mind, I always knew he was there, always waiting, always loving me in all my brokenness.
At the end of Mark 10 we are introduced to the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, in Jericho. Mark writes this scene very well and we immediately feel the pain of Bartimaeus sitting at the city gate, invisible and unwelcome to the cities residents. How depressed and despondent he must have been. He is someone I easily identify with. A member of society, but set apart from it, never really able to take part fully in life around him due to the barrier of his lack of sight.
Sitting at the city gate everyday he must have heard many stories from people entering the city about this man from Nazareth who roamed the countryside performing miracles. I am sure he thought many times that if he could just see, life would be better and he could finally join in with the rest of the world. I to have spent many, many hours thinking that if I was not bipolar and suffered from such great depression that I to cold go forth and join in the rest of society!
Yet, finally, this Jesus person comes to Jericho, and Bartimaeus gets his chance. He can’t see Jesus and his entourage approaching, but the buzz around him must have been palpable. In desperation he cries out to Jesus. Bartimaeus’ fellow Jerichoians must have been humiliated by this blind degenerate called out to such an esteemed teacher, and they quickly tried to shut him up. Yet Bartimaeus persisted. He just knew that Jesus would restore his sight. He didn’t waver, he didn’t back down, he didn’t care if he was making a fool of himself. His faith was stronger then the disdain of those around him.
Bartimaeus’ entire life must have been spent being pushed around by others. He has to rely on the charity and kindness of those around him, and it is safe to say he must have endured much suffering as well. This physical disability must have taken a large toll on his mental health as well. In that moment when he heard Jesus and began to cry out to him, it must have taken great strength and courage to ignore those around him to keep quiet. Because God knows our hearts, I believe Jesus saw all of Bartimaeus in that moment, not just the blindman, but the person inside crying out for wholeness.
There was only one request made, “I want to see.” Bartimaeus knew in his heart that Jesus would heal him. In his brokenness and despair, he defied those around him with his faith in Jesus and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and pleaded for healing.
“’Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” Mark 10:52
The Bleeding Woman
In chapter 8 of the gospel of Luke, he shares with us some amazing stories of the teaching and miracles in the ministry of Jesus. At the very end of the chapter we see Jesus traveling to the house of Jairus, a synagogue leader, to heal his dying daughter. It is in the middle of this commotion, with the crowds pressing in on Jesus we meet an unnamed woman, who in desperation and full of faith, reaches out to just touch Jesus’ cloak in the hope of healing.
All we are told about her is that she has suffered from a bleed for twelve years. According the Jewish law, a woman on her menses or suffering any kind of bleeding was not allowed to touch anyone, and everyone she touches or anywhere she sits was considered unclean. (Leviticus 15:25-27). This was not only a physical ailment but a socially alienating disorder which would have made her unwelcome. Mark 2:26 reveals to us that she had not only suffered but had spent every penny on doctors with no successful out come.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly have suffered for years at the hands of specialist doctors who yielded disappointing results. The first four years of my 20’s were spent fighting not only myself but several doctors who continued to tell me I was not bipolar. In the end I was prescribed an antidepressant which causes sufferers of bipolar disorder to enter into a manic state. Consequentially, I became suicidal and tried to kill myself. I then received my bipolar diagnosis, and then my real struggles began.
I have lost a great deal, and expended much in my search for stability. Yet much like this woman, I remain yet another nameless sufferer of mental illness, hardly worth a footnote in history. My story is not unique, yet the one thing I cling to is my faith above all else. This tenacious woman defied the law, and in faith said to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28)
It is a beautiful moment, because of her faith she is healed. Jesus didn’t even see her, he didn’t even know she was there, but she believed just touching the edge of his cloak would heal her. Then, in a beautiful exchange he says to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
Faith Can Heal
These two stories pertain to two very broken peopled, marginalised and shunned from society. Suffering from disability and stigma is never easy for anyone, but God didn’t plan for us to suffer. He sent his Son so that we might have faith and believe. I still suffer, greatly. Currently I am suffering not only my menses, but due to the cessation of my benzodiazepines I am still suffering withdrawal symptoms, most notably severe abdominal cramps and sweating. Today I feel very much the pain of that nameless woman above.
The physical symptoms of my pain and dizziness are compounded by my menses, but as a mom and wife there are still things which need to be done in the day. Today was a very tough day. While I was out and about I was keenly aware of what was happening within my body, and hyper-aware I didn’t want to let anyone know how badly I really felt on the inside, and I do not have to deal with the added stress of social stigma from those that know me.
Today may have been one bad day, and I know there have been many worse days in my life, but I made it through today with faith. I keep going, I keep fighting, I keep praying, because I have faith that God will provide, that He will never give me more that I can’t handle with Him!