By Lisa Bell
Sun streamed through the window, but sleep had eluded her long before sunrise. Hoping beyond all reason she willed her back to straighten – in vain. She winced. Eighteen years and with the new day nothing changed. But hope remained in her spirit. Perhaps today at the Synagogue, Jehovah might heal me. I must hope.
She dreamed of herself standing erect, free from this long bondage of seeing little more than her own feet. In her imagination, she looked into the eyes of friends and family and felt love expressed there. She felt connected again. She danced through the streets of Jerusalem and felt free at last. She lifted her head and gazed in wonder at the blue skies by day and bright stars against the dark skies by night. She imagined the cool rain splashing against her face instead of drenching her back.
Pain shot through her body and catapulted her back to reality. She rubbed the back of her neck. The stiffness lingered from long days of avoiding the inevitable bumps as she shuffled through the streets. The bent over condition of her body made long strides or hurried steps impossible and prolonged the stress on her neck. She rolled over, pushed up to her hands and knees, and then managed to stand. The dull ache in her back rotated with stabs of pain that escaped through yelps and drove her to the ground. She dreaded those moments. Sweat poured from her face as she lifted herself. The last ounce of energy drifted away as she reached a chair yet remained undressed. Even there, she remained bent over without comfort. Would this suffering ever end? What had she done to deserve such torture?
At the synagogue, the woman heard a man teaching. His words held so much power – far different from the Scribes and Pharisees. The effort to look at this man overwhelmed her – still she felt drawn. For just a moment, her eyes met His and the gaze rendered her motionless. He called and she hobbled over to Him.
“Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” His voice echoed through her mind. *
What did He say? Freed? Fully free? Released from…from this demon that torments me? Oh if this could be true. Tears tugged at the corner of her eyes. She shut them against the torrent that tried to escape.
She felt his hands on her back and suddenly she looked straight into His eyes. I’m standing straight. She felt the sun on her face and looked up into the sky. Wispy clouds floated across the blue expanse and awe filled her spirit. She danced in the streets.
“Glory to God! He healed me. Praise the Lord!” She fell to her knees and bounced back up again overwhelmed by the magnitude of this miracle.
Pharisees chastised the man for healing her on the Sabbath. What better day to heal someone? He’s right – they are hypocrites. But His response pierced her heart.
“And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”*
Eighteen years, yes. Bond? That word He used means shackles. But how did He know? She sensed something different about this man, Jesus. He saw beyond the physical illness right down into her soul. Somewhere in the past she allowed Satan a foothold. He took over and caused the problems with her back. Jesus healed her body with a single touch. The praise followed because He freed her from Satan’s power.
Satan bound this unnamed woman in Luke’s gospel. He still binds with shackles today. Mere humans cannot escape. Although not all physical ailments indicate spiritual chains, the human body often manifests such bondage.
But Jesus sees beyond physical pain and disabilities. He reaches deep inside and heals the spirit. Like this woman, we cannot help but praise the Lord for such release.
*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.