by Michael E. Brooks
“Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:25-26 NKJV).
In the village of Samalbung, Nepal last year I met two middle-aged men who asked if I remembered them. I had last visited that village fourteen years previously. Both men had become Christians at that time and they proudly recounted their memories of that occasion.
I was pleased to see the wife and four children of one of the men, all of whom are now also Christians. When we first met he had only two small sons; now they are grown and two daughters have been added to the family.
Fourteen years is a long time for most of us. Children grow up; we age; things change. We have the saying, “Time flies when you are having fun.”
That is certainly true. When life is good and things are going well, the days go by quickly. But when we are suffering and every day brings disappointment, failure, pain and sorrow, time seems to crawl by much more slowly.
There are several miracles recorded in the New Testament involving persons who had suffered for considerable lengths of time. The woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5 is one of these. She had suffered greatly for twelve long years.
Other examples include a woman “who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years” (Luke 13:11), a man “who had an infirmity thirty-eight years” (John 5:5), and a man over forty years of age who had been lame from birth (Acts 3:2; 4:22).
Suffering with illnesses or handicaps for such periods must seem interminable. Even lesser circumstances can produce the feeling of endlessness. I remember when I first began making mission trips to distant locations. Those trips were typically about two weeks in duration. By the midpoint of the trip it seemed as if I had been absent from my family and home “forever.”
Yet the fact is that such timeframes are actually pretty brief. Compared to the historic era of human existence (perhaps 8,000 to 10,000 years of archaeological evidence), our few years of suffering are barely significant.
Even more, from God’s eternal perspective, the life span of any human is “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
Long ago Moses wrote:
“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
These words are not intended to make human life appear insignificant or worthless. Rather they are words of comfort, reminding us that our suffering, whatever it may be, is of short duration and therefore bearable.
Further they remind us of our eternal spirit, which will have barely begun to live when this flesh returns to the earth from which it came (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
If we have trusted in God in this life, all eternity will be spent in the greatest joy and happiness that can be obtained. Yet, even in such joy, our time will not be short, and our happiness will never end.
Time relates only to material things; there will be no clocks or calendars in Heaven. It is a place with no night and no parting (Revelation 22:5).
Time will be no more.