Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Hem of His Garment

This is one of my most prized possessions. I did a post about it once before which said that if our house was on fire, this would be one of the first things I would want to rescue and run out the door with it in my arms.

My parents were married in St. Paul, Minnesota, seventy years ago today. They had a tiny wedding at a Lutheran church, at 8:30 am on a Sunday morning, before the regular church service and Sunday school took place. My grandmother and a couple they were friends with were their only guests. This was the only wedding present they received. It has been a part of my life, all of my life and I love it.

We have it in our bedroom and this picture is the reason we have a yellow bedroom. I wanted it to sit on a wall that complemented the artist portrayal of the Savior. Heinrich Hoffmann painted this picture and it has inspired me many, many times when I needed extra faith or reassuring hope. I did a little research on this painting done in 1890 and the original along with three others of his most famous paintings are permanently housed in Riverside Church in New York City. I definitely will make an effort to see it if we ever find ourselves in The Big Apple again.

I absolutely love the story of the woman in the scriptures with an issue of blood, that had brought her suffering for many years. You can read the story in the New Testament. There are two accounts of it, one by Mark, the other by Luke. (Mark 5: beginning in verse 23 and Luke 8: 40-49.)

This woman suffered for 12 years with hemorrhaging. Any woman who has undergone something like this knows that this is very bothersome and sometimes the only answer is surgery. I imagine that on top of the hassle, the anemia, exhaustion and the worry, what she experienced emotionally was much worse.

I often think about her and wonder what it must have been like to have been shunned by others as being unclean. That brought her such huge rejection according to the customs, superstitions and dictates of her day. She was literally an outcast. This probably brought as much, if not more pain to her then the medical condition itself.

Jesus had caused quite a stir in the land with His miraculous healings and she was well aware of Him and she believed. She was a woman of faith and knew that all she had to do was touch the hem of the Savior's garment to be healed. She didn't want to bother him, and was probably embarrassed to share her problem, but she went anyway in her desperation. She had spent all she had on doctors that could not help her. So she pressed forward into the throng of others seeking His special powers to heal. Quietly, she merely touched His garment and knew she was immediately healed.

At that moment the Savior felt His healing power escape His body, in spite of the crush of people all around Him. His disciples found it almost funny that He would ask who touched him as they were being pressed by the crowd from every side. But He knew exactly what had happened and had a lesson to teach. He asked about it, she confessed what she had done and why, and He said, "Woman they faith hath healed thee, go in peace."

I love and admire that kind of faith; I believe in it. I think one of the reasons I love this picture so much is it very clearly shows that hem of His garment. The painter has skillfully created the folds and texture of that garment and made it look real, soft and delicate to the touch. What she did took a tremendous amount of courage, she made the effort, she went to Him, in spite of her reservations and fears, and she reached out. Is that not a perfect lesson of how faith works?

Faith requires us to act. She did that and it wasn't easy. She was blessed for her faith and courage with exactly what she wanted and needed. The Lord in His perfect love for all of us desires to heal us in the same way if we will but ask, and demonstrate our faith in His promises. Sometimes the way He heals us is different than what we pray for because we do not know the end from the beginning as He does. One thing I know most assuredly, He always sends comfort and love and help in coping with things that are not to be changed from His will to ours.
When we first heard about Hazel's spina bifada, a lot of prayers were offered up that somehow that outcome would be changed and she would be born healed. But that was not to be. Could He have done it? Of course. With God nothing is impossible. But He knew she would be fine. He knew her far better than we did. He knew she was willing and able to fulfill His plan for her. He knew that her physical health would be fragile but her spirit was gigantic.
We have learned volumes from her. He knew that all those around her would be healed of their fears and learn to see tremendous blessings in their place. We are learning to put our trust in Him and be comforted. We have learned to feel His love in a very personal way. Not only for us, but especially for her and others who suffer what seem to be be very unfair things. When things look most bleak for Hazel, He reaches down and enfolds her in His loving arms and lifts her up again. I have seen it with my own eyes and heart. When it happens we are all lifted up too and our faith is reassured and refreshed.

There are many days when I seek that kind of healing the Lord gives for my own shortcomings, weaknesses and infirmities of body and spirit. When I am making the bed each morning I look at this picture. There are days when I study it and remember that woman, my sister, with an issue of blood for 12 years and her sacred story of healing. And everyday I remember Hazie and realize that the Lord's healing does not always mean a perfect body in this life, but it always means a perfectly healed spirit.

And I must confess there are many days when I find myself tracing the hem of that garment with my fingers on this beloved picture. It sounds kind of silly I guess, but for some reason it helps me know He is there and all I have to do is reach out for the things I need or that my family needs.
I appreciate that woman's willingness to take the risk and share what she knew about faith way back then, when Jesus walked the dusty trails in the place where she lived. As we all touched the hem of His garment in prayer for my brother, Steve, these past months, he was miraculously healed just as she was. Miracles are a part of everyday life. We get them, we recognize them and we should thank God for them. And we testify of them so that all may know Him.

The most beautiful part is that even though He is no longer physically upon the earth with us, we can all receive the exact same healing by spiritually and emotionally and mentally touching the hem of His garment. Talk about a miracle, that gift belongs to all of us. Reaching out in faith, we can do it. We must do it, there is too much to lose if we don't; too many blessing lying in wait for us to receive. And may we be filled with total gratitude when they come and be willing show our love for Him by the way we live, is my prayer today, tomorrow and always.


Sister Susie said...

When I see this picture it always reminds me of the Bible text that talks about Christ praying to His Father to, "Let this cup pass from Me, not My will but Your will be done." How often I think, "Are my prayers lifted in this manner?"
I'm so thankful that GOD Knows all things and those things include me whether trials or blessings!
Love to you all,

D and C said...

You just have no idea how much this post meant to me. Thank you for your beautiful words, and for sharing this powerful message.
Love you lots.