"This is the last one," her father snorted angrily as they waited. The flies seemed to dance with the dust in the sunlight coming from the small window. "I have used every extra shekel I made for the past seven years. I have nothing else left for you. The rest of your family has needs, too, you know!"
Then, more tenderly, he added, "Relax, daughter. Perhaps this physician will have some new potion that can help. He has helped others, I'm told."
She was leaning against the mud brick wall as yet another spasm started at her waist and inched its way up to her neck. She moaned. "If only I had listened to my grandmother," she thought. "If only I had stayed home that day my friends went to the hut of the witch." Her memory brought tears as she recalled the moment. She had been only thirteen years old at the time, not quite a woman. It the small, dingy abode, the old woman had looked at her with empty, black eyes.
"Are you willing to do anything to see my power?" the witch had asked.
"Yes, anything," came her answer with a giggle. The brew she was drinking made the room of the hut move. The moment the word of assent came from her mouth, she noticed the dark shapes hovering above the little table. One of them pressed close to her and suddenly disappeared. At that same moment, she felt the first spasm in her back. "My imagination," she thought.
By the time she turned sixteen, her back was noticeably stooped. The pain, whether light or intense, was always present. No longer able to force even a small smile, she became an outcast to everyone. Except her family.
She asked one or two of the Rabbis if they thought her problem had started that day at the witch's hut. "No," they would say as they softly scratched their beards, "some people just have maladies that can't be explained nor cured."
Her last trip to a physician completed, she resigned herself to the pain, the increasingly bent back and the humiliation. When she ventured out she could hear the whispers. "Mommy, what's wrong with her? Is she a monster?" "You must have committed a grave sin for the Eternal to punish you like that!" "Don't touch her -- she might be contagious!"
Finally, the only time she departed her father's house was to the synagogue for Sabbath.
She held her mother's skirt as she shuffled in and sat with the other women. At least here they weren't outwardly unkind. Some ignored her, others avoided her. It had been three years since she had been able to look up enough to see the sky. She took her place, stooped almost double. Saliva drooled from the corner of her mouth as the Psalms were read.
The visiting Rabbi began to speak. She knew she had never before heard his voice. He had only said his introductory blessing when he stopped suddenly. Something stirred within her.
"Woman, today you are free. I heal you from this sickness."
Her heart was pounding. She suddenly realized it. No pain!
Then, the touch of a man's hands on her bent shoulders. "Stand upright, sister."
10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue,
11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.
12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!”
13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?
16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”
17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.
(Luke 13:10-17 New Living Translation)