From a young age, I knew my hands and heart were created to heal. In my twenties I graduated from nursing school, ready to bring comfort by words and deed. While most of my job consists of staving off illness, curating health promotion and prevention, I do encounter students on my caseload who have incurable syndromes and diseases. With these precious small friends, I have no choice but to trust that God has a plan for their welfare and their time on Earth. This means that sometimes healing occurs, and sometimes it does not.
One miraculous story of healing in Scripture is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV) speaks of a woman in desperate need of healing from physical bleeding. “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.”
The Passion Translation shares this verse a little more clearly. “Suddenly, a woman came from behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his prayer shawl for healing. She had been suffering from continual bleeding for twelve years, but had faith that Jesus could heal her. For she kept saying to herself, ‘If I could only touch his prayer shawl I would be healed.’ Just then Jesus turned around and looked at her and said, My daughter, be encouraged. Your faith has healed you.’ And instantly she was healed!”
Pause for a moment and envision this woman’s life. She lived in a time prior to adequate sanitary conditions. Women who were menstruating were physically separated from men for seven days at a time. They were not to go out, touch members of their family, even cook or clean. Women during this monthly ritual were to be quiet, as per purity laws. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years! She suffered not only all the physical ramifications of having a constant period, but the emotional and social implications as well. I’m positive she felt isolated, depressed, frazzled, and fragile.
In her state of desperation, this woman left her home, where, by law, she was required to reside, and sought after Jesus. She had caught wind that he was in the business of healing, and she knew in her heart of hearts that if she could see him, talk to him, touch him — he could save her from her life of distress. Her faith drew her to Jesus, and prompted her to boldly act, touching his robe. An unclean woman, as she was, shouldn’t have been out in public, nor been in the presence of men. An unclean woman most certainly should not have reached for Jesus in the crowd. But on that day, God heard her cry, and her fingers swept across the robe of Jesus.
In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn’t see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. Instead, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew her pain, her cry for help. He picked her out of the crowd, declared her faith, and healed her.
As I grow older, I recognize the need for Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness, whether that means physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. He has no desire to shame us, or turn us away when we are in a state of desperation. Instead, Jehovah Rapha longs to repair the wounds. God is the God of healing, no matter what state we are in.
As Ann Swindell says in Still Waiting, “There is one truth that allows us to be a people of hope, even as we wait for our own wholeness and healing: Jesus has restored us to himself, to others, and to ourselves. And when the King of kings restores us–soul, body, and life–we are given hope, not only for this life, but for all of eternity.” (211)
My time as a nurse has taught me to see beauty in the brokenness. There are those who are suffering from physical ailments. Minds that are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear, depression and angst. Hearts that are longing to be known and loved. Working as a nurse has revealed there is a humility in asking for help when life feels uncontrollable.
I am not sure if you are in a current state of desperation — if you are needing healing. If you are not, I’m sure you know a friend or loved one who is. And while I cannot explain why God does not always heal this side of heaven, I am sure of this: He wants us to come to him in our ragged state — to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us. May we be moved in our times of biggest need to seek Jehovah Rapha for restoration and healing.
Sarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.