This article is part of Sister Alena X. Ricci’s series on Women of the Bible.
This one caught me totally by surprise. I’ve been working through the miracles of Jesus and have been rereading and seeing new things in the Scriptures I grew up with. But this story, these small verses, really caught me off guard.
In the thirteenth chapter of Luke, the writer tells the story of Jesus in a synagogue on the Sabbath.
Jesus is teaching, and there’s a woman there who had a “spirit of infirmity” for 18 years, and she was physically unable to sit straight by herself. (The Scripture makes a very clear point to say that she could not do this herself.)
I went hunting into the internet for what that actually meant, and many people credit this as a disability of some sort.
So Jesus sees her, calls her to Him and heals her. She gets up completely healed and walks away, glorifying God.
And as I’m writing this, I literally have tears running down my cheeks, because how many times do we pray for our own miracle to happen just like this? All of a sudden it’s healed and gone and we’re walking away praising God? It’s so easy to imagine that that thing we want so badly is changed in an instant.
But the Scripture is very clear and very pointed and very purposeful. Luke makes note that she had been like this for 18 years.
Eighteen years, this woman could not sit up straight.
Eighteen years, this woman could not take control of her own body.
But there are a couple things that make this story so powerful over and above the fact that Jesus Christ has power and it works for the good of those who love Him.
In healing this woman, He gave her independence. She could not sit up by herself. But now she can. Now she could get up, walk, bend, anything at all because Jesus Christ stepped into her life.
This is redemption: Through total and utter dependence on our Redeemer, we become independent in the Spirit of God.
Jesus sees her and calls her. The Scripture literally says, “And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him…”
This is us everyday.
He calls us every single day. Every single day to get closer to Him, to have a deeper sort of faith, to just spend time with Him. We like to think that it’s only the unbaptized that get called to Jesus, but news flash — that’s not true. Those of you who have been in the church and faithful for more years than I’ve been alive? He’s calling you.
But this woman did what we don’t always do:
My version of listening is always filled with conditional statements. “Alright God, I’ll do this, but I don’t want to give up the time I spend watching TV.”
This woman didn’t have conditions or requirements or expectations.
She just listened.
Lastly, this woman was faithful.
Whether or not it was her first time or her 785th time in the synagogue, she was faithful. She wanted to be where God was. She wanted to find something there she could not find anywhere else.
And here is where I find her story so incredibly relevant and amazing: She knew that there is no other place like the house of God.
Readers, this is a truth I think we’ve all experienced during the pandemic and one that has really struck me to the core:
There is absolutely nothing else like being found in The Church of Jesus Christ.
Even on the worst days, it’s still the best place to be.
I don’t know why this woman went to church, but I imagine she went because she knew in her heart that that is where God wanted her.
And this is what God is telling you and I right now: just go. Just be there.
Zoom or not, we cannot succeed spiritually without our brothers and sisters around us.
This is what I love most about this woman’s story. She gets introduced with the sentence, “And, behold, there was a woman…”
So simple: There she was.
She was found in the house of God in the midst of Jesus Christ the day that He called her and healed her.
There’s no guarantee of a miracle healing every time we go to church, but every Sunday is wildly unexpected and blessedly unpredictable and every Sunday Jesus Christ is calling us.
Image credit: “Christ Healing an Infirm Woman” by James Tissot (1886-1896)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.