“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids--and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me.” (Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man , 1947)
And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (ESV)
The woman with the issue of blood is one of the iconic figures in New Testament scripture. Ironically, she is unnamed. She is only known because of her condition, primarily, and her position, secondarily. Due to her condition, she is shunned by society and considered unclean. As such, she is relegated to the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Hence, when she boldly decides to seek out the master physician, she has to remain undetected. She crawls toward Jesus maintaining her anonymity. Then she reaches out! In a moment of confusion and uncertainty, Jesus gives her what she was seeking: affirmation.
He says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” With one declarative statement, Jesus upgrades her status. He grants her community and confidence. As a daughter, she is instantly grafted into the family of God - a community of faith-filled people. And his recognition of her faith boosts her confidence in providing the assurance that she already had everything she needed.
Like this woman, Ralph Ellison’s unnamed protagonist in Invisible Man is a prime example of those of us who have been shunned by society. He is often overlooked because of his condition - he is black. Through the ups and downs of his existence, he understands that he is not alone. He also understands that he may have to serve as the test case or pioneer of sorts. At the end of the novel, the protagonist states, “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”
Who knows? Maybe you are the one to press through the crowd. Maybe you are the one to speak for the voiceless. Maybe you are the one to go through hardship and pain, unduly and unjustly to prepare the way for a brighter future. In these moments of persecution and affliction, do you have the faith to endure and rise above the fray. Jesus is near. He is waiting to affirm you. Remember that.
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