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Lifting The Weight of Wait
Luke 8:43-48 NIV

 

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. [44] She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 

[45] "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." 

[46] But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." 

[47] Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. [48] Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." 
 

Because of erosion, the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was in peril of washing into the Atlantic Ocean. So Congress appropriated $12 million for the National Park service to move it 2900 feet to safety. 

With a combination of care, expertise, patience and raw power, The Expert House Movers of Sharptown, Maryland moved the 208 foot tall, 9.7 million pound structure to its current home. The option of moving the lighthouse was first proposed in April of 1982, but the light wasn't lit at its new location until November 13, 1999. 17 years of study and 23 days of moving later. (From Fresh IllustrationsWhy did it take so long?

Small things can be moved quickly, but big things take time. Most people tend to overestimate what they can do in a week and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime.

You know what I mean don't you? Have you ever made a New Year's resolution? This year, our family decided to make better choices in the foods we eat. So we've cut out sweets, reduced the breads, potatoes and pastas and increased the number of salads we eat. We've found the changes helpful and are enjoying the difference healthy eating makes. But four months later, I'm still fat. Why? Well, it took me more than four months to put on the weight and it will take more than four months to take it off. If I was just 20 pounds overweight, I'd be done by now. But I wasn't and I'm not. I guess the key is patience and persistence. If I stay at it, in 8 or 9 years I should be back down to my birth weight.

The woman in our text suffered with a physical problem for 12 years. The King James Version of verse 43 says: "And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any," She'd done everything that was humanly possible. She'd seen many doctors and many doctors had seen her. Luke, the writer of this gospel, a doctor himself, said she'd spent everything she had on physicians, and none of them were able to help her.

What could she possibly do now? What do you do when there's nothing else to do? Where do you turn when there's nobody left to turn to? Who do you hire for help when you're flat broke?

Conventional wisdom would say, "Don't despair, stay with it. Be patient. Be persistent, don't give up." But isn't there a point when it is time to give up and stop trying?

The Bible is filled with stories of people who didn't give up.

God told Noah to build an ark. He told him what to make it of and how to make it. Noah followed directions and 120 years later, the great flood came. Noah remained faithful, he didn't give up.

The children of Israel were in captivity for 400 years when Moses knocked on Pharaoh's door and demanded the release of God's people. After suffering from the plagues God sent to Egypt, Pharaoh still wouldn't heed Moses' warning, that is until the last plague-the death angel. Stricken from the grief of losing his first born son, Pharaoh let the people go.

God providentially cared for his people in Egypt and He cared for the people in route to their own land. The army of Pharaoh chased after the people to bring them back. With the Red Sea in front of him and the army of Pharaoh behind him, Moses lifted his rod and the sea parted. God's people walked across on dry land. As soon as the last Jew reached the other side and the last Egyptian stepped foot into the dry bed of the Red Sea, God released the waters of the Sea and the army drowned.

Camped along the Jordan River, Moses sent twelve spies into the promised land to bring back a report. Ten of them, the majority said the task ahead of them was impossible, two of them disagreed and said, let's go possess the land. Because the majority ruled, the children of Israel spent the next forty years wandering aimlessly thorough the wilderness. Forty years-that's a long time. That's longer than most of the members of our congregation have been alive.

During the 40 years, those who doubted died off and Joshua led the people across the Jordan to possess the land which the Lord gave them.

For Noah, it was 120 years between the promise and the flood. For Joshua it was 40 years from the time he went into the promised land to spy and the time he went in to conquer. For the lady in our text is was 12 years from when her problem began until she touched Jesus.

Why does God make us wait? Why doesn't He just do what He is going to do in the beginning?

In the case of Noah, it was because there was work to do. With every piece of gopher wood that Noah attached to the ark, he preached a sermon of God's grace to the wicked people of his day. And God let 120 years of preaching take place before he rained his punishment down.

With Joshua, those who doubted had to die before those who believed could go in. While the people wandered in the wilderness, God cared for them and met their needs, but they would never know "the land flowing with milk and honey," a place reserved for those who believe. Forty years later, Joshua was an old man, but he led God's people to possess what God gave them.

But why did the woman in our text have to wait 12 years for her healing? Why didn't God just heal her in the beginning instead of waiting 12 years, after she'd exhausted all she had trying to be made whole?

Is it that Jesus was unwilling to heal her? No, in fact, the healing took place before He noticed her. Look at verse 44 and 45, She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. [45] "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

Her healing didn't take 12 years, it was immediate-it happened as soon as she touched Jesus. And it wasn't God that delayed it. You could make a case for saying it was her efforts that delayed it. As long as she had another option and another dollar she was busy trying everything she could think of and could afford to cure her problem. It was only after she was desperate that she clung to the string of faith she had.

In her weakened state, she fought through the crowd and lunged for the hem of Jesus' garment and when she touched Him, she was healed. Jesus made it clear what healed her in verse 48, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." 

So why the 12 years? Maybe it took that long to build her faith. Just like it took 120 years to build the ark and 40 years to build a nation ready to possess the land, it took 12 years of suffering until she was desperate enough to believe enough to reach out and touch Jesus. 1 Peter 1:7 says, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

And maybe it took 12 years, so Jesus could be glorified in what He did.

Do you feel the weight of wait? Are you in year 2 of a 120 year building project? Or are your feet tired from walking around for the last 39 years and you've stopped believing there is a promised land? Are you desperate, like the woman in our text and ready to push through the crowd to touch Jesus? 

Sometimes we have to wait, because like Noah, we've got work to do. Other times we have to wait, because like with the children of Israel, God has work to do on us, and sometimes we have to wait, like the woman in our text today, so God can build our faith and glorify Himself.

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