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The Faith Risk of Chronic Pain

Kaleid’s summer theme is To Be Made Well, and all of our summer circles and emails are pointed in that direction. We’d be thrilled to have you for our two-part book club where we will read the book To Be Made Well, or we’d love to see you at one of our walks or at our July serving opportunity in Clarkston! Always feel free to reach out to info@thekaleidproject.com with questions!

Dear Kaleid Ladies,

It’s June! This coming Sunday is Pentecost, the day of remembering that we have an Advocate, a Counselor, a Helper who is God-with us. Then, on Monday, we enter the season of “Ordinary Time,” when we practice noticing and following the quiet, seed-like work of God in the world.

Our healing story from Mark 5 is a remarkable Pentecost plus Ordinary Time kind of a miracle.

Mark 5:21-34 tells the story of a nameless woman, bleeding for twelve years, touching Jesus’ garment and being made well. In Mark, where the author always moves from story to story at a breakneck pace, commentators note that there is a remarkable slowing that happens in this story of a nameless, bold, excluded, unclean, honest, hard-working, isolated, fearful, hopeful, financially-broken woman.


Can you relate to the complexity of desperately needing relief from a chronic, draining, isolating malady?

This story invites us to face tender, personal questions like “Why am I not well yet?” and “What more can I or should I do to try to become well?” or “Am I as overlooked as I feel myself to be?”

There are a few beautiful ways to hold our questions to the light of God’s presence through this woman’s story.

First, Jesus wants to hear her whole story.

The miracle is a voiceless one at first. The woman knows if she can just touch Jesus’ robe, she can be healed, but she gets to him and gets away from him without saying a word. He knows, though, that healing has gone out from him to her, and he wants to know more. It’s amazing to imagine Jesus stopping, searching, genuinely looking for who touched him. When she identifies herself, he listens to her “whole story.” For Jesus, healing her is not transactional. It’s deeply personal and relational. It is the healing of a trauma counselor as well as a miracle worker.

Second, Jesus knows that her faith in him is a risk.

The Message translation says that Jesus responds to her “whole story” by saying, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!” (v. 34) When we suffer long-term dis-ease, our faith gets frayed. Our longing flags. Our minds play tricks on us, distorting valid options for recovery into painful reminders of what we’ve already lost or spent. To hold any faith at all is a risk for this exhausted woman. And Jesus validates her courage. Sometimes a mustard seed of faith contains more courage than a herculean, twelve-year effort at wellness.

Finally, she is nameless, but Jesus speaks her identity to her.

It’s no mistake that the woman’s story interrupts Jairus’ story of desperation about his 12-year-old daughter’s life-threatening condition. The acclaimed synagogue leader is “beside himself,” begging Jesus to heal his girl. While the bleeding woman has no synagogue-leader status like Jairus, Jesus’ care for her is mirror image of Jairus’ care for his beloved daughter. Jesus turns to hear her story, validates her courage, and then gives her a beautiful name that tells her who she is. She is his “Daughter.”


And so, in this story, we witness the beauty of God-with-us in a personal, intimate, restorative, knowing way. This is the beauty of Pentecost. And we also witness the “what took you so long?” intersection of God’s healing power with a woman who has been on a long, long journey toward being made well. This is the tension of Ordinary Time.

Today, may you remember that your story matters to God, your courage is seen by God, and your name—when all is said and done—is “Daughter.” And may these things fill you with the gladness of Pentecost and the patience of Ordinary Time.

Gratefully,

The Kaleid Team



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