Among the miracles recorded in the ninth chapter of Matthew are two accounts of the healing touch of Jesus. One deals with the daughter of a synagogue official, and the other with a woman who had suffered from hemorrhaging for 12 years. In each of these situations a significant word is used to describe the need or request of the individual.
The synagogue official came to Jesus with the words, My daughter is even now dead; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live” (verse 18). The woman who was suffering from a hemorrhage was thinking, “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be well” (verse 21).
The significant words of the grieving father’s plea were “lay thy hand upon her.” Likewise, the woman who had suffered untold anguish for many years expressed the same hope that physical contact with Jesus would produce the desired miracle. The similarity of these two requests is striking because not only did the individuals desire some physical connection with Jesus, but from inner faith they were moved to make their requests. We can certainly conclude contextually that they had heard of miracles Jesus had previously performed, and now in faith they sought his touch for themselves.
Those accounts remind me greatly of a young Jewish woman with whom I have been having Bible studies for about a year. Ann (not her real name) has taken a prominent place in my thoughts and prayers because of her persistence in seeking to know more about Jesus and Christianity. In describing some of my other contacts, I might have said that the most striking aspect was their quest for truth. While Ann, too, is sincere, the most extraordinary aspect of her spiritual quest is the struggle she has endured in order to pursue it.
You see, Ann is blind. She was not born blind, but due to an accident several years ago, she lost her sight. While she has adjusted well to life without vision, she often feels frustrated by the actions of sighted individuals toward the blind in this sight-oriented world. For example, if someone is handing out discount coupons for hamburgers on a street corner, they will rarely, if ever, offer one to a blind person. They don’t want to take the time to explain what they are handing out. Ann usually confronts such individuals and asks them what they are handing out. She often declares somewhat vehemently, “Blind people eat, too!”
A similar situation occurred when the Gideons were distributing pocket-sized New Testaments on Ann’s college campus. At first the person distributing the Bibles stammered an excuse, not knowing what to say to Ann when she asked if she could have one, too. Fortunately he regained his composure and gladly gave her one, not giving any more thought to the fact that she could not read it for herself. Ann was not aware that it was a New Testament until she asked, but she told me that something within drove her to take it, no matter what.
Again, Ann’s initial contact with me came about because she had asked one of our staff who was distributing gospel tracts if she could have one. I’m certain that she asked a friend to read the tract to her, and I know that it was God’s timing at work that provoked her curiosity enough to prompt her to call the number printed on the back.
But even Ann would tell you that this was by no means the beginning of her search for truth. She had tried attending a local synagogue, but felt that the atmosphere was cold. She was not encouraged in her attempts to obtain a copy of the prayer book used there, much less to become accomplished in the difficult task of following along with the Hebrew. While she did obtain a copy of the prayer book in braille, she could not keep up with the speed of the service. She was advised that she should just memorize the prayers by the sounds of the words and recite them along with everyone else, regardless of whether or not she understood what she was saying.
Throughout the entire year that we have been in contact with one another, Ann’s search for truth and the meaning of her life has continued. Each of our conversations is punctuated by Ann’s “Guess what!” And every time she amazes me with the thoughts she has been having and the strides she is making toward obtaining a braille copy of the New Testament in a modern translation. Although many free Bibles and Christian books are available to sighted individuals, the same books in braille or on cassette tapes are difficult to obtain and very costly. Nevertheless, Ann is persistent.
One day Ann called and in the course of our conversation told me several things that encouraged me to praise God and pray for her even more. She said that she felt absolutely compelled in her search, and that it had become overridingly important to her. “What’s going on?” she asked. “What’s pulling me?” Even before I could answer her, I think that she knew it was God who was lovingly drawing her to himself. She told me that she was constantly amazed at God’s creative power; that the structure of creation could have been no coincidence; and that while this was awe-inspiring in itself, she felt a genuine “need to connect with God.”
It seems that Ann is seeking the Savior’s touch just like the Jewish official and the sick woman of Matthew nine. Please continue to pray with me for her as she allows God to reveal himself to her through the Messiah Jesus. And rejoice with me over her parting words after one conversation: “I have two new friends living with me.” “Who are they?” I asked, thinking that she had two new pets. “Their names are Matthew and John,” she said. At last she had obtained two of the gospel accounts in braille and cassette. That was truly a breakthrough, and a very “physical” touch or connection, at that!