Michelle Hamel finds consolation in the Gospel story of the woman healed on the Sabbath and the grace offered to us all.
Lent creates a whole host of different emotions in my heart. It all depends on the year. Some years, I am feeling gung-ho and so ready to challenge myself to grow in all kinds of ways. Other years … not so much. This has been one of those “other years.”
This year, I didn’t even want to look at Lent. I feel like we’ve been doing Lent since November! Advent was so hard that my husband and I started calling it "Lent-vent." “Lent-vent” was followed up by a very hard time of grieving at the unexpected loss of a friend. The night of my friend’s funeral, the first of our family came down with the norovirus. It was such a rough virus for us and took more than a month to work its way through our family, accompanying us through Ash Wednesday.
There was no excitement over Lent arriving for me this year. There was only exhaustion and burnout. I mostly ignored the fact that Lent was coming because I had no extra emotional space for anything. After the stress of the last few months, I would have been happy to just hibernate for the entirety of Lent and wake up on Easter!
Maybe you can relate?
After trying to wish Lent away this year and realizing my efforts weren’t working, I did spend some time asking God what He wanted me to focus on this year. In the days after my prayer, I felt inspired by a few things. Simple things this year because that's what I can handle in the season of life I’m in right now.
I felt inspired to dive deeper into my word of the year: know. I need to truly know and believe who God is fully and completely, not only in my head but also in my heart. I need Him to dispel all the lies and half truths that have cluttered my mind and block me from completely trusting Him. My identity as a daughter of the King needs strengthening and healing.
On the second Sunday of Lent, our pastor spoke about a woman in the Bible that also needed a reminder about who she was. The Gospel was on the Transfiguration, but our pastor connected the story of the crippled woman in Luke. (Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how he connected them because I have almost-two-year-old twin grandsons who like to climb back and forth between our pew and their parents' pew throughout Mass and tend to compete with Father during the homily!)
(Ambrose and Leo are cute distractions … I’m sure their little brother will join right in when he arrives this summer!)
Fr. Ryan mentioned how Jesus reminded the crippled woman, and the indignant ruler of the synagogue, about her true identity. As soon as identity was mentioned, I felt a connection because I need that reminder too! My mind latched on and I pondered it for several days.
After spending some time in Luke, I pondered how the story became even more than just about identity.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. … "And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:10-16, emphasis mine)
“Jesus saw her.” He’s teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath with people everywhere and He saw her. This crippled woman was not seeking Jesus. “She was bent over and could not fully straighten.” Think about it … her eyes always looked down. She had been crippled for 18 long years. How long had she felt like an outcast, forgotten and overlooked? How long had she felt hopeless? Jesus called out to her and told her she was healed of her infirmity.
But Jesus didn’t just see the circumstances of her illness; He also saw her heart. Then He touched her and “she was made straight.” She no longer had to feel unwanted or ashamed. He reminded her, and everyone there, that she was “a daughter of Abraham.” His words healed her illness and His touch healed her heart.
We need that too: to hear Jesus’ word and feel His love and healing touch.
This story is a reminder that Jesus sees us even when we aren’t trying to be seen. It’s a reminder that Jesus understands the reason that we are bent over by the weight of the crosses we are carrying. Our wounds and imperfections are not hindrances to receiving His grace. Even with the burdens we struggle to bear, even when we can’t (or forget to) look up, we are still daughters of the King.
Jesus sees us and He will heal us … often when we don’t even expect it.
Copyright 2023 Michelle Hamel
Images: (top, bottom) copyright 2023 LovePeacePrayers.com, used with permission, all rights reserved; (center) copyright 2023 Michelle Hamel, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Michelle is a wife, mom of eight, and grammy of 3 (with more on the way!). She spends her time reading, writing, and searching for good recipes to cook for her growing family. Her favorite things to do include spending quiet time in Adoration, shopping for baby clothes, and planning vacations. She loves to write about topics that feel God-inspired in order to encourage and comfort women. Michelle blogs at Normal Chaos.