Jesus went with the synagogue ruler, and all the people followed, crowding around him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” – Mark 5:24-34
A friend of mine recently had a long phone conversation with a sister in Christ. Long…as in nearly 90 minutes on the phone. I’ve had these conversations as well, but my compassion quotient runs out much sooner. I just don’t have the space for such lengthy sessions of complaints, woe-is-me moments, and demands.
Another word for patience is longsuffering. And for me, sometimes that’s what it comes to. Thankfully, most conversations I have – even long ones – don’t fit into the longsuffering category.
Then there’s Jesus. Days of teaching, ministering, healing, casting out demons, travel, and life with his disciples lead to another day of demands. Large crowds. People begging for his help. Needs everywhere he looks. And now as he is responding to the needs of the synagogue ruler, with a large crown pressing in on him, someone touches him.
He knows he’s been touched because he senses that power has gone out from him. Indeed it had. A woman – unclean by years of bleeding – had dared to press into the crowd, make her way to Jesus and reach out to touch his garment. And with the touch came a healing.
He knew it. She experienced it. And now he will stop the procession to determine what had happened. Who had touched him. Longsuffering. The woman had suffered long with this bleeding. The daughter was suffering now with her deadly disease. The synagogue ruler was suffering greatly and surely long from his perspective. I can imagine his compassion quotient being drained as Jesus speaks with this woman. Jesus himself is willing also to suffer the incredulity of his disciples as he stops to speak with this woman.
So much suffering. But so much compassion as well. Jesus will not just heal the woman, he will call her daughter: a remarkable identifier found on the lips of Jesus only twice in the New Testament. He will explain that her faith had healed her. He will go on with the synagogue ruler to attend to his daughter. He will allow the disciples to question his sanity.
Jesus never runs out of compassion. He will heal all who come to him in faith. He will forgive all who ask of him. He will never turn aside anyone who comes to him. No matter how long he must suffer to do all these things.
Hint: It’s longer even that a walk to the synagogue ruler’s house. It’s longer than his suffering and torment of trial and execution. He is the author of longsuffering.
Next time I need to listen beyond my compassion limit, I must tap into Jesus’ storehouse of patience and longsuffering. How about you?