A Miracle

Mark 5:25-33
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

I can see her there, perhaps timid and fearful but oh so desperate. The crowd is thronging, pushing toward Jesus, shouting to Him, seeking something from Him themselves. He is on a mission, recruited by Jairus to come heal his sick daughter. Perhaps she hears the commotion and asks what it’s all about. Maybe someone said that it was Jesus, this man who had been healing people everywhere He went. And so within that mass of people, she finds a way to slip in and get close enough for that life-changing touch of His clothes. And it was enough, just as she had hoped it would be, to heal her body of that plague, to give her back a normal, healthy life.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. She did not slip back into obscurity and take the secret of her healing back home with her. But now Jesus was stopping and looking for her. He knew her touch. He knew her condition. He knew her faith. He knew of her healing. So I can see her there on the ground before Him, shaking, maybe sobbing, trying to tell Him what had happened—the disease, the doctors, the suffering, the shame, the financial loss, all compounded and seemingly insurmountable until Jesus walked through her town and she grasped, for just a moment, the clothes on His back, and everything changed in an instant and then forever.

I can see her there because her story is my story, even if the details are different. After an encounter with Jesus, she knew what it was like to stand up free and whole for the first time in years, to leave so much differently than she came, to really live for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t the zap of a lightning bolt, but the gentle, unseen, yet very noticeable power of Christ that changed absolutely everything. One minute the problem was there, the next it was gone, and all and only because of Jesus.

I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but miracles still happen. In fact, one happened to me several months ago. I’m not talking about things that we call miracles nowadays—a sports team winning a game with a dramatic finish or that chronically late person arriving on time. No, I’m talking about something that literally can only be explained as “God did something.” That’s exactly what I said after it happened, because at first, I wasn’t even sure what had happened or if something had happened. But it did, and it was a miracle.

And I wanted to tell people about it. It was a huge thing in my life. I wanted to glorify God and give people a chance to praise Him alongside me for what He had done. But if I wanted to tell people about it and get them to understand what God did in my life, that also meant talking about some things that I didn’t want to talk about. Things that I don’t want to talk about. But as I was reading this story about this woman and her struggle and what happened to her and as I was thinking about Jesus’ interaction with her afterwards, it seemed like He was saying to me that what happened in my life is not my secret to keep, but my story to tell.

That’s exactly what Jesus said to this woman. He already knew everything about her and the situation. He didn’t need her to explain it to Him. And He did not let her slink back home with a secret healing, but coaxed her to testify of all that God had done in her life. And beyond just the thronging crowd of that day, her story persists through Scripture to us today so we can read about, we can know her story, and we can praise the Lord for the great things He has done. And isn’t that the purpose of a testimony? To glorify God and to encourage others with stories of the things He can do. So I guess this is my testimony part 2.

If you’ve read My Testimony, you know I’ve struggled with chronic depression for many years. So like this woman, I know what it’s like to deal with an affliction for a long time. Like her, I know what it’s like to spend money on treatments that don’t make any difference in that condition. Like her, I know what it is to deal with something that can make a person feel ostracized from society, maybe condemned, ridiculed, misunderstood, isolated, and overwhelmed.

Mental illness is not something that is easy to talk about. It makes people uncomfortable. I’ve found it is something that is especially not easy to talk about in the Christian world I’ve been a part of. It seems there is compassion for every other ailment, but the mentally ill person is somehow not trying hard enough, doesn’t have enough faith, or is somehow spiritually weak to “allow” such a thing in their life. Those kinds of attitudes make it easy to feel dismissed and ashamed about a condition that is just as valid as any physical illness.

The last few years for me were a struggle. I thought I had a handle on things since I had been doing better for a time. But then I started to struggle in my relationship with God and felt like I was just out to sea, drifting away with no way to get back to the shore. And then an accumulation of personal struggles along with that just started pushing me deeper into that darkness of depression. It got to the point where I started seeking additional treatment beyond therapy. I tried all the meds. I did an intensive outpatient program. I did TMS. I did all the things right in a row and took the financial hit for all of it without really getting any better.

And there is a desperation that comes when nothing seems to work. When you actually are trying but nothing helps. When there is not a strong support network available. When every day is just spent contending with that issue that is always there. Hope can fade very quickly. I imagine this woman from our story being very isolated. With this issue of blood, she would have been considered unclean. She would have to reside outside the camp, so to speak. She would have been denied the ability to participate in normal life. Depression often brings with it self-imposed isolation. It breeds disconnection. And that is a perfect environment for the darkness to grow.

I felt like I had nothing to live for. The apathy took over, and I just didn’t care about anything. I was going through the motions, putting up a front, acting as if everything was fine and normal, but I was crumbling. I became suicidal, trying to figure out what I could do and how I could do it, believing that it wouldn’t matter at all if I was gone. I was angry with God because I knew that would be the wrong decision in His eyes, but it felt like He was denying me the one thing that could make me feel better. So I was bitter, full of pride, just wanting to end it all. I was at rock bottom.

I went to therapy intending to discontinue my treatment. I wasn’t willing to do anything anymore. I didn’t care. I’d run out of hope. I was done. I came home from that appointment feeling very upset. I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted someone to talk to, but there was no one I felt I could talk to about what I was dealing with at that moment. So in my desperation, I prayed, something which had become increasingly difficult to do at all over the past couple years. And I just surrendered. It wasn’t an eloquent prayer, but a between-sobs giving up of all that I was trying to carry, all my doubts, my confusion, the hurts and the weight of it all. I don’t know if I came with any faith at all, certainly not like that woman’s surety that that touch would bring the desired healing. So I just left it all there and walked away not really thinking that anything would change.

No lightning bolt. No booming voice from heaven. No whisper in the wind. No bright light and a heavenly host. But I woke up the next day a completely different person. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t think anything. I didn’t change anything. At first I didn’t even realize anything. But as the day went on, all I could think was “I think God did something.” That apathy was gone, the hate, the anger, the bitterness, the hard shell that had encased my heart, the suicidal thoughts, that urge to self-harm. And in place of all of that was that perfect peace that passes understanding. A literal 180 from where I was just the day before. A years-long struggle mended in an instant at the feet of Jesus. I had kept up a horrible attitude, almost challenging God to give up on me, but He will never. I had forsaken Him, but He has never forsaken me.

It was something unexplainable, and my words don’t do it justice. And I am just so, so grateful for the mercy that He chose to pour out on this broken soul. I am grateful to be free from that darkness and residing in His light. I am humbled by His grace, and I draw near to Him with a different heart than I had just six months ago. But why am I telling this story? Honestly, because God prompted me to. Like that woman, I wanted to fade into the crowd, to go unnoticed, to not have to speak up and speak out my story to those around me. I don’t know if it will mean anything to anyone, but I hope it can help somehow. If nothing else, it can be a testimony that God can do anything. No struggle is beyond His power. No one and no situation is ever hopeless. A miracle can come in the most unexpected places.

Mark chapter 5 is my favorite chapter in the Bible. And I think it’s because I can relate so much to the brokenness of the people in those three separate stories that are recorded there, the desperation, the uncertainty, the fear. And yet Jesus intervened in profound ways in each case. He made such a difference in such impossible situations. And that gives hope. He gives hope. So I add my story to theirs. I add my testimony of God’s great power and His great mercy and His working in this world.

I don’t know what your struggle looks like. I don’t know where the fear comes or the doubts come or the hopelessness comes. And in the midst of things in this life, the light can get lost. Faith can get lost. Hope can get lost. But even if God seems distant, He is not far. Jesus was preoccupied in this story, right? He was going to see Jairus’ daughter, not the woman with the chronic problem. But He was never unaware of her. He knew exactly who touched Him and when and why. He knew everything in her heart. He cared just as much about her unvoiced request as He did the one voiced out loud. And that’s easy to forget sometimes—that He knows everything in my heart when I can’t talk to Him. He knows the burdens when I can’t surrender them. He knows the truth when I’m just mired in my own confusion.

Our deepest struggles may leave us feeling ashamed and prone to hide or stay silent. But I encourage you to find the courage to tell your story, to share your testimony of what God has done for you. Life is not always that pretty picture of flowers and rainbows that we want it to be. And God works in all kinds of situations in truly miraculous ways. It doesn’t all look the same. I can’t wrap my story up with a little bow and say I’ll never struggle with depression again, but I can now look back on this and remember the amazing ways that God met me where I was in my deepest need and made such an unbelievable difference. And to Him be all the praise and honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Psalm 30:10-12