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Restoration and Faith

            Restoration and Faith seem to go hand-in-hand. Often, this is true. Often, this is not true. Concepts of restoration and faith are too vast to be explored in this post with any significant depth. However, there are a few points that may spark curiosity as we move through this Lenten season in preparation for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. The invitation is to consider and engage what I bring to you today with a sense of playfulness and curiosity. 

         To help facilitate engagement, you’ll need to know clearly how I conceptualize restoration and faith. By implication, restoration lends itself toward bringing something or someone back to a condition prior to the occurrence of damage or loss, sometimes surpassing the initial condition. Faith, fundamentally, is belief; belief in or belief for. As human-beings, we need restoration and faith. We’re all guided by those needs and deeply suffer when they are not met. Whether it is the most basic daily requirement of getting restful sleep to counter sleep deprivation or eating a satisfying meal to quell hunger, each act is one of restoration and faith.

            As I consider the sacred texts of Scripture, the symbiotic relationship of restoration and faith are undeniable. In this season, the story of the woman with the twelve year hemorrhage in Mark 5:25-34 speaks most vividly of the relationship of restoration and faith. Perhaps the chronically ill woman had heard of Jesus long before that moment of healing or maybe only minutes before, but one thing is certain, her faith led to her restoration both physically and spiritually. Desperate and dejected, she participated in her healing and took action by touching the hem of Jesus’s garment. He, being nearly crushed by the crowd on his way to resurrect a little girl who had died shortly after He had been told of her illness, was keenly sensitive to this woman’s faith in the midst of her crushing heartache. Twelve years of suffering physically, socially, emotionally, psychologically, and financially can strip most of us of any pretense. She is presented to us as a suffering woman whose faith is child-like in that her expectation for healing was boundless. It is possible that she was a child when her traumatic suffering began. The possibility of a full and thriving life, pregnant with possibilities had been closed off to her. She had become acquainted with loss. 

            Obviously, it is not coincidental that the girl Jesus is on His way to resurrect in Mark 5:35-43 is twelve years old and the hemorrhaging woman has suffered for twelve years. One story seems to serve as unclouded reflections of the other, building in levels of severity. It is never helpful to speculate whose suffering or circumstance was worse; a woman who had suffered a twelve year physical death of her womb (and all its social, emotional, psychological, and financial implications) or a girl who suffered illness and death as a twelve year old youth. Both of their lives had been truncated by trauma. Both had known death and resurrection, albeit differently. The hemorrhaging woman (re)gained daughtership through her faith which led to Jesus healing her and meant that she (re)gained space, place, and beloved identity while the twelve year girl had daughtership uninterrupted and received resurrection because of her space, place, and beloved identity.

            I suspect that everyone who has lived long enough has gone through cycles of death and resurrection. It is highly improbable that the cycle is one of literal death and resurrection but we, in varying degrees, are acquainted with death and life. It is true for me. I have suffered death of dreams and some were slow agonizing deaths that no amount of life-support would suffice while others were immediate deaths that left me with a symptomology similar to criteria needed for a PTSD diagnosis. I had to memorialize the deaths, bury them, and grieve them. Some of my dreams are long dead and remain dead. However, a few of my buried dreams Jesus has called forth and life returned.

            Remember, I said earlier that restoration and faith seem to go hand-in-hand at times and, at times, they do not. It is not necessary to introduce another story when the story of Jairus’s daughter supports my next point. However, the Scriptures give us an even more poignant text. As we transition from the scene of a suffering woman being restored and a little girl being resurrected, now the scene is Jesus teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and while He is teaching sees a woman with a spirit of infirmity bent over 18 years, unable to stand-up straight (Luke 13:10-13). Jesus saw her, called her over to Himself, loosed her from her infirmity, laid hands on her and she was healed immediately. Had this woman sought healing before this moment with Jesus? We do not know. What the text clearly lets us know is that Jesus initiated the healing, which did not require this woman to act on faith to be restored. Jesus saw her and had compassion on her.

            As I see it, each story has a reverberating message that reaches us today which is Jesus’s utter willingness to rule over death and loss on our behalf whether or not we are actively seeking restoration and whether or not restoration happens the way we imagined. I wonder if that leads us to places of quiet rest; confident that Jesus sees us and is moved with compassion.

- Linda Royster, Director of The Anchor House