Press In To The Lord
 
By Rich Carmicheal

    "A large crowd followed and pressed around Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

    "At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched My clothes?’

    "‘You see the people crowding against You,’ His disciples answered, ‘and yet You can ask, "Who touched Me?"’

    "But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 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’" (Mark 5:24-34).

    This story illustrates how good it is in difficult and desperate times to press in close to the One who is able to meet your needs and who can encourage, strengthen and sustain you. If you find yourself in the midst of hardships, I invite you to consider some of the truths this story reveals about the Lord and the difference His presence and power make as we draw near to Him.

The Lord Cares about Your Situation

    One of the wonderful truths about this story is that even though it seemed to occur as an "interruption" in Jesus’ ministry, He did not treat it that way. When this woman touched Jesus’ clothes, He was actually on a very urgent mission to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter who was dying (see Mark 5:21-43). As significant as this trip was, Jesus nevertheless stopped and spent time with this woman.

    Can you take just a moment and allow this scene to soak in? Here is the Lord of the universe, en route to a critical situation, and He pauses and gives His full attention to this woman and her situation. He is in no hurry and listens as she tells Him the whole truth. She has expressed her faith in Him by pressing through the crowd to touch His clothes, and now He is going to take time to express His love and concern for her. "Come near to God and He will come near to you..." (Jas. 4:8).

    Jesus cared deeply for this woman, and this encounter was obviously not an interruption in His eyes. After all, He came to minister to the needy. So as you call out to Him in times of great need, do not be surprised when He turns His full attention toward you. He loves you deeply and cares about your situation. "Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7).

Jesus Cares for Our Whole Person

    Though the woman knew that she had been profoundly healed when she touched Jesus’ clothes, she had hoped to slip away quietly. Jesus, however, did not allow her to remain unnoticed. He first asked the question, "Who touched My clothes?" and then He "kept looking around to see who had done it." She eventually came, trembling with fear, and told Him the whole truth. Why would Jesus press the issue like this and bring the woman into the center of attention?

    Perhaps He had in mind not just her physical well-being, but her over all well-being. According to the law, this woman, because of her problem with bleeding, would have been ceremonially unclean for much, if not all, of the past twelve years (see Lev. 15:19-33). Because of this, she may have suffered a great deal of emotional and social pain during that time, in addition to the physical suffering. She may also have been dealing with the issue of poverty and with the issue of her appearance as she had suffered so long and had only grown worse through the years.

    Can you imagine the impact in her life when Jesus proclaimed in the crowd’s hearing, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering"? It seems that Jesus was doing much more than healing her physically – He was also setting her free socially and emotionally. In other words, He did her a tremendous favor by bringing her situation into the open. She had hoped for healing in her body, but Jesus brought healing to her whole person. He set her free. "...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

    The Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and He wants us to be whole in every aspect of our lives. He cares about our body, mind, spirit, soul and emotions, and also about our relationship with Him and with others. As we press in to Him, He responds by caring for our whole person. "May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it" (1 Thes. 5:23-24).

Jesus Works through the Truth

    I believe a major turning point for this woman came when she told the whole truth to Jesus. One of the healthiest things we can do is to be completely honest with the Lord. He is "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) and He honors those who share truth with Him. Indeed, He teaches that the truth sets a person free (John 8:32).

    Even though He already knows anything and everything we might share with Him, something happens within us as we open our hearts and lay everything in our lives before Him. As David shares, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long...Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity...and You forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psa. 32:3-5).

    Whatever issues, needs or difficulties you may have in your life, Jesus will honor your openness and honesty with Him. Pour out your heart to Him and bring everything into the light before Him. He is faithful to work through truth. "The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth" (Psa. 145:18).

The Lord Responds to Faith

    Although there were many people in the crowd that day, this woman stands out because she is the one who had faith. She could have given up by this point, but she found hope in Jesus, and believed that if she could just touch His clothes she would be healed. And her faith in Him was strong enough to help her press through the crowd to Him. He deeply appreciated her faith and rewarded her for it.

    The writer of Hebrews tells us that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1). He adds that "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). Notice the phrases "anyone who comes to Him" and "those who earnestly seek Him." The key to faith is not faith itself, but the One in whom we place our faith. Even faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain (Matt. 17:20), not because of the greatness of the faith (mustard seeds are very small), but because the faith is in the One who can move mountains. Our faith is not in ourselves, but in the Lord, and so we come to Him and earnestly seek Him. He does exist and He is faithful to reward our faith!

    If we believe that we can use faith to receive whatever we want, then we fail to understand the nature of faith. The kind of faith that pleases God begins by coming to Him and earnestly seeking Him. Faith is primarily a means to Him, not to our wants or needs. When we do earnestly seek Him and His kingdom and righteousness, He is faithful to provide all that we need (Matt. 6:33).

The Lord Works Powerfully for Those Who Seek Him

    When the woman drew near to Jesus and touched the edge of His clothes, power went out from Him and immediately healed her. For twelve long years this woman had suffered with this problem, and tried doctor after doctor, and spent all that she had, and the result: she had only grown worse. But in the moment when she sought the Lord and encountered His power, everything changed!

    What difference could the power of God make in your life and circumstances? Sometimes we do not receive from the Lord simply because we do not seek Him, believe Him and ask Him (Jas. 4:2; Matt. 7:7-8). He desires to meet our needs and He invites us to "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb. 4:16).

    Whenever we do draw near to the Lord we experience His power because He is inherently powerful. And His power is without limit! By His power He is able to instantly heal a woman of a long sickness, and by His power He can just as easily split open the sea (Psa. 74:13) or place the stars in the heavens (Isa. 40:26). So as you draw near to Him, there is no doubt that He has the power for any situation in your life. In fact, He is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" (Eph. 3:20).

Jesus Gives Us Hope and Encouragement

    Remember that our story occurred as Jesus was making His way to Jairus’ house. Can you imagine how Jairus felt while Jesus spent time caring for the woman and listening to her story? He may well have had some compassion and joy for her, but his overwhelming concern was his little daughter who was dying. He knew that time was critical, and he was probably desperate for Jesus to be on His way again to the house. And how terrible it must have been for him when messengers from his house arrived and shared with him the news that his daughter had died. The situation must have seemed hopeless as the messengers asked, "Why bother the Teacher any more?" (Mark 5:35).

    Of course, from man’s perspective the situation was hopeless and it was time to begin mourning the loss of this little girl. But what mattered at that point was not what the messengers thought about the situation, but what Jesus thought about it. And from His perspective, the girl’s death did not complicate the situation, because just as He had the power to heal her, He also had the power to raise her from the dead. In other words, Jesus saw the situation differently than they did, and He had options beyond what they had ever experienced.

    The same can be true in our situations. We may think we are out of options and our cause is hopeless. But we do not really know the truth until we know how the Lord sees our situation. We need to learn to trust in Him with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5). By His mighty power He is able to make a way when there seems to be no way. "Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You" (Jer. 32:17).

    Jesus, nevertheless, understood Jairus’ distress over the news, and in order to give him encouragement and hope, He told him, "Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed" (Mark 5:36; Luke 8:50). Do you sense the deep compassion in those words? Perhaps He was in essence saying, "It is going to be okay. Don’t lose faith. You can trust Me. No matter how impossible it seems, I’m going to heal your daughter."

    Jairus held on in faith and followed Jesus past the mourners and the doubters, and into where the child was. He watched as Jesus took his lifeless daughter by the hand, and he listened as Jesus said to her, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" (Mark 5:41). And then, in complete astonishment, he watched his little girl come back to life! Oh, the difference that Jesus makes in the lives of those who draw near and put their faith in Him!

There Is Hope for You

    If you are in the midst of a difficult or desperate situation, I encourage you to make your way to the Lord as Jairus did. Make your way through the crowd as the woman did and press in close to the Lord. In His presence there is power, and peace, and possibilities far beyond your own. His solution may or may not be what you have in mind, but without a doubt you will discover that He is faithful to reward those who earnestly seek Him.

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Thank You…

    It is near the end of January as we work on this issue, and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving to the Lord for His financial provision during the months of December and January. We rejoice that funds were available in late December and early January to mail all of the copies of the January issue, and that funds are now available to mail all of the February copies. Praise the Lord!

    Of course, we know that the Lord’s provision comes one gift at a time through the hands and hearts of those of you who offer financial support for the ministry. And so our hearts also overflow with appreciation toward you. We rejoice that every dollar you share is able to help at least two people freely receive a copy of the Herald. Since many of these readers have little or no finances available, your generosity is precious to them, even as it is to us.

    We hope that all Herald readers will uphold this ministry in prayer. These are trying times for many people, and we realize that we need the Lord’s provision, protection, wisdom and anointing as much as ever.

    Again, we appreciate Herald friends very much, and we hope to hear from you soon. You may write to a local office (see the addresses on the bottom of page 10) or to the main office at:

Herald of His Coming
P.O. Box 279
Seelyville IN 47878 U.S.A.