She reaches for my hand and smiles. I reach for hers and I force a smile back, force myself to look truly joyful. I want her to know joy here. I want to know joy here.
At 26 years old Betty is the beautiful mother of a 3 year old little boy. She weighs 69 pounds and battles AIDS, tuberculosis and all the complications that come with the two. We know the drill. She reaches out her hand and it reminds me so much of a hand I held once, of a woman I loved hard, of a friend who became a family member.
I fight the tears and I force a smile. After all, she might live. She could live, and right now, I know she needs me to believe that she will. How do you keep believing that when the last time you were wrong? When the time before that, and the time before that you were wrong? I sit down on the side of my couch that is now her bed and I ask her about her family. A hot feeling surges up in the back of my throat as I feel my heart start to put up a wall. I know better. I should know better.
After all, my job is to believe with out wavering. His job is everything else.
Just then a having an issue of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak. She said to herself, “If only I touch His cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter, “ He said, “Your faith has healed you. And the woman was healed from that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22)
I resonate deeply with this woman. I can see her, reaching out for his hem. I can feel the strain, that desperate reaching, longing just to touch Him, just even the very edge. A longing for only Him.
I am the woman with the issue of blood. Except I am the woman with the issue of doubt. I am the woman with the issue of sin, with the issue of flesh, with the issue of forgetfulness. I am a woman who wants to snap my arms shut and protect, fold my arms tight around this chest to guard my heart that is still so raw and exposed from being broken. I want to gather these children to myself and shelter them from the ugly hurt of this world.
But I can’t fold my arms and simultaneously reach out for my Savior. I reach for Him and I have no choice but to fling my arms wide again. I reach for Betty’s hand and I know, just like that woman, I must seek Him. I must know Him. “If only I touch His cloak…”
And do you know what? He isn’t out of reach. I stretch out my arm and I realize that He is right here, just two steps in front of me, clearing the way. The sweet promises of Isaiah flood my mind, “His robe filled the temple.” I reach and I feel that His hem is wide, enough for me and for you and today and tomorrow. Enough to fill and enough to overflow.
Some time last week in the too-early hours of the morning, I asked God why He allowed me to believe so strongly that Katherine would live when she wasn’t actually going to. I can usually get a pretty good sense for those things. It is hard for me to think that My Father saw me in my hope, He knew I was believing, and He simultaneously knew the ending. I think He answered that He gave me the grace to believe that she would live so that in her final days she would feel hope and high spirits all around her, so that she would feel that she was fought for and that she was worth the fight. She was worth it.
Its His message to us on the cross and it is His message to the woman with the issue of blood as He stoops down to look into her eyes, to speak to her, to meet her need: “You are worth it.” And I want it to be my message to these hurting that He brings into our lives: You, you are worth it. We are for you. He is for you.
I want my life to be found in chasing after Him and I want my arms to be filled, not just reaching for, but gathering in the hem of Jesus. His robe fills the temple. His glory fills the earth. I want my arms to be filled with gathering His grace, His love, His goodness. I want to follow Him wherever He is going and be so full of Him that He is overflowing out of my arms, out of my very life. Even when it means reaching out my hand with a smile to a situation that might hurt, will hurt. He gave me the grace to hope. And so I am asking that He would give more grace, again, even if it is harder to grasp this time. Grace to feel joy and grace to hope for life and grace to fight hard, because people are worth the fight. Grace to have arms so filled with Him that they have to remain open, and that He spills out.
I look at Betty and my joy is real. We open our arms to her because she is worth it.
And I wanted you to know today, that you are worth it. He fought for you. You reach, and He bends, He cups your face in His hands and He says, “Take heart. Be healed. I am for you.” I pray we would know deeply His love for us. I pray that we would fight for His love in this world because we know. Keep reaching, friend, He’s right here. His hem is wide. Let’s fill our arms with gathering it.
Thank you for praying for Betty with us. I will post more frequent updates here: https://twitter.com/katieinuganda