Twelve Years

Paula Gamble

Reflections on a woman’s thoughts, who had been suffering for twelve years


A father is begging for his daughter, a father in desperation, flinging himself down on a dusty, pebbled road, his knees scraped by stones. His tears seem to sting more than the fresh wounds. His heart aches more than his reputation – after all he is a dignified synagogue leader, not accustomed to groveling before another rabbi.

And why is he pleading on behalf of a daughter? A girl child is nice, but a boy child – why he’s a treasured possession! Without a boy you have no legacy: No one will carry on the family name and business; you have no one in the family to explain the blessed Hebrew Scriptures. A girl – well, she is good for cooking and cleaning and making babies. She can give an extra hand to help out, but a large dowry will be needed to procure a good future for her. And yes, she will give grandbabies someday. But a boy is better. Why is Jairus pleading with the Savior for his daughter? A son I can understand…but for a mere 12 year old girl?

Look! Jesus is going with him. Wait! Jesus has stopped to talk to the people crowded around him. Has he changed his plans? Jairus’ sick daughter was born the year my malady started. Twelve years ago! The flow of blood unending since then! Twelve years of being unable to sleep with my husband, unable to bear another child; unable to even cook for my family lest I should contaminate them! No hugs from my children. Oh how I miss being touched! Oh how I miss spending time chatting with the other ladies at the well. If I were to draw water there, I would infect the whole city. I am lonely! And broke! Every shekel has gone to doctors who promised to make me better but have only made me worse.

I’ve heard about this Jesus. He even touched a man with leprosy! The man said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus did not recoil from that filthy leper. He said, “I am willing.” Imagine that! He was willing. That was against common sense and against the Levitical law. Jesus became unclean by touching him. I never heard of a Rabbi daring to do that. Instantly the skin lesions disappeared and this man was restored to health. He was also restored to his family, to the ability to get a job instead of begging for mere morsels of bread.

I also heard that Jesus healed a paralyzed man – in fact, I think that’s him over there. He is walking around fully healed and happy!

I know that Jesus id controversial. When he healed a man’s deformed hand on the Sabbath day, some synagogue leaders said that Satan possessed him. Surely Jairus knows of Jesus’ disreputable character among his fellow religious leaders! But that doesn’t seem to bother Jairus – it’s so beautiful that he wants to plead for his daughter. Oh I wish I had someone who wanted to plead for me the men who tore apart a roof to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. My friends have left me.

Jairus’ desperate, groaning cry jars my soul. It is a familiar sound but long ago I gave up; I suppressed the cry of my heart – it hurt too much to hope.

Some people said that they merely touched Jesus and were healed… Well, maybe… Maybe I can sneak through this throng of curious onlookers and touch the fringe of his robe. I dare not touch the Master and make him unclean.

I will try. Oh! I hope no one notices me! A little farther…

It is hard to reach him with this jostling crowd pushing me all around. Please, let no one notices me! There!

Dried up? My hemorrhage is dry as the riverbed during a drought! As dry as my skin parched by the arid winds of summer! Dry, yet whole. In an instant!

But wait, he’s stopping. Why is Jesus looking around?

“Who touched my clothes?”

Who touched his clothes? How can he ask that? Clothes don’t have feeling and, there were many people pressing against him – how could he feel me touch the mere fringe of his robe?

“Healing power has gone out from me.”

I don’t know if anyone else was healed, but I can feel my healing.

Walk on Jesus – please walk on. Go use your healing power to heal Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter. Go on – please just go on.

Why do you so intently search this crowd? Go! You don’t want this mob to know that an unclean woman touched you! How could dare to try to heal Jairus’ daughter if everyone knew that you were desecrated by my touch?

Oh, my stomach is in knots – me knees are weak and trembling. I cannot stand! He is waiting… I must go to him. I must go forward – on my knees, like Jairus did. I will fall at his feet and confess my act of disobedience and listen to him scold me… like so many others have done. What? No condemnation? What did he just say?

I took a risk, yes, but a desperate woman is not afraid to risk – what did I have to lose? More shame and cruel words? But you, Jesus… before this whole leering crowd who has only maligned and ostracized me… you are declaring that I am healed and whole. “Live well! Live blessed!” you say.

No one has spoken so kindly to me. Why…I feel young again! Oh, how good to feel my heart rejoice again! It’s like... well… no words can describe it. I’ve been restored back to my community. Now I can have another child – a girl I hope!

Oh no! They have come to tell Jesus that Jairus’ daughter has just now died. Oh Jairus – I’m so sorry! Jesus stopped for me and did not get to her in time. Oh Jairus – I will pray for you.

“Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.”

Oh Jairus – you can trust him! Jesus just brought me back to life after twelve years of a living death. He will bring your little girl back – I’d bet my life on it!


© 2005 Paula Gamble