Saturday was World Mental Health Day and today (Monday 12 October) is World Arthritis Day. Guess what? I have that too, but fortunately not at an advanced stage yet. I have osteoarthritis in my thumbs which, some days are fine, some days throb with pain, and some days are subjected to very unpleasant shooting pains. The joys of ageing. Seriously, arthritis is not funny, causing many people to live in constant pain and struggling to perform basic tasks. Try opening a can of cola with arthritic hands! It’s good that this day brings attention to the problem and an opportunity for us to pray for, and support people we know who suffer.

Suffering has been a part of life ever since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. Suffering began emotionally, with an intense feeling of shame. Eve suffered pain in childbirth and, not many years later, Adam and Eve suffered despair as one of their sons murdered another. Suffering has continued since, whether intentionally as we hurt one another, or incidentally, as our bodies react to various illnesses and debilitating conditions.

In the time of Jesus it was just the same. People had to live with horrendous illnesses that were destroying their lives, that is, until they met Jesus. One lady, in particular, springs to mind. She suffered from what politely today we might call women’s problems, which led to her suffering from continual haemorrhaging for 12 years. She’d tried every conventional route available but the Bible says that she “had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors”. (1) Today we laud our NHS and the sterling work they do, but it was a different world in those days. The doctors who added to her suffering also took her money, and left her in dire straits. The treatment she received made her worse, not better.

Then she heard about Jesus, and when she had opportunity, standing among a crowd that was thronging around Jesus, she touched his cloak. She didn’t shout out and call his name. She didn’t throw herself in front of him begging for mercy. She touched his cloak. That was it, and she was healed. No one in the crowd knew what had happened. The disciples who were acting like bodyguards, trying to keep people away from Jesus, they didn’t notice. Jesus noticed. He knew immediately that someone had touched him because he was aware that power had gone out from him. He turned to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (2) The Bible records, “Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (3)

On that wonderful day Jesus transformed a tragic life. He did it many times when he was on earth, and he still does it today. Sin has wrecked our lives, some don’t know it but many of us appreciate its effect on us. We know there’s at the very least an emptiness inside us, a yearning for something better. We want to experience true happiness, peace and contentment, but they elude us.

We may have troubled minds, we may have suffering bodies. Can Jesus heal us? Yes he can. Will he heal us? I don’t know. That’s up to him. He’s the Sovereign God and he knows what’s best for us. The Apostle Paul was troubled by something he called his thorn in the flesh. He prayed three times for God to take it away, but God said no and told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (4) The Lord decided that Paul was better able to serve him as he was. If you come to Jesus he will do what is right for you. Bring your troubles to him.

 

Bible References:

  • Mark 5:26
  • Mark 5:30
  • Mark 5:33,34
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7