As I sit down to write this, I find myself in the midst of some “less than ideal” circumstances. A handful of mixed emotions are traveling through my heart as I try to discern how to compile the sentences and paragraphs to follow. I feel pain & deep sorrow. One minute my mind is filled with extreme confusion while the next it’s frozen with sadness. I am entrenched in a daily, internal war between the temptation of self-pity and the comfort of biblical truth. I’ve found that in vulnerable, volatile times like these, we find ourselves desperately searching. Searching for something to hold onto; something that makes sense. Something to carry us through the pain & confusion.
As I was reading through the book of Mark recently, I came across a woman who found herself in a similar situation – in the midst of very difficult circumstances & desperately searching for healing. This woman was an anonymous “nobody” (she is not mentioned by name), but in Mark chapter 5 we learn that she had been suffering from an incurable disease – a hemorrhage of some kind – for 12 years. This disease had literally taken everything from her but life itself. She had seen so many doctors & tried so many treatments that she was entirely bankrupt. Not only was she completely broke, but none of those treatments worked & her condition continually grew worse (). But on top of her near death & financially bankrupt condition, this disease had most likely caused her to be ceremonially unclean, which would have greatly affected & restricted her religious and social life. After 12 years of putting up with this, there is no doubt this woman was full of sorrow, confusion, bitterness, and even despair. She was desperate & tired – at the end of her rope – but she had one more plan.
The beginning of says, “She had heard the reports about Jesus…” One of the things that all 4 gospels make clear is that there were enormous crowds following & surrounding Jesus everywhere He went. Jesus was saying & doing things that nobody had ever heard or witnessed before in the history of mankind, and everyone wanted to witness it. Each time Jesus healed someone, cast out a demon, or said something controversial, word traveled faster & the crowds grew bigger. So as story after story was spreading about a man miraculously healing people, you can imagine the hope & anticipation this woman felt as she learned this same Jesus was making His way through her city. This was her chance. Doctors had failed her. Money had failed her. Friends & family had probably abandoned her. And even though she had only heard about Jesus – she believed that He was the one who could heal her.
There are a couple of observations I have from this woman’s “interaction” with Jesus in the crowd:
1) Her Faith – She had never met or talked to Jesus. She had never seen or witnessed Him heal someone. In the context of this passage, Jesus is literally on His way to heal the dying daughter of a man named Jairus – a synagogue ruler. This woman could have just skeptically followed from a distance & watched Him perform a miracle…she could have seen for herself if the stories she’s been hearing are true. But she didn’t need to see proof – she didn’t require Jesus to pass a test. She believed.
2) Her Commitment – She could have made any number of excuses to avoid Jesus that day. Mainly, there was the crowd – says the crowd was so big, that people were “pressing against Him.” I hate big crowds. It’s the main reason I’ve never participated in Black Friday shopping. It’s why I have no desire to ever live in a big city. In order to get to Jesus, this woman knew she was going to have to literally push & claw her way through this mass of people – but it was worth it. She could have told herself that Jesus was too busy helping someone much more important than her. I mean, He was helping one of the rulers of the synagogue…who was she? Just another face in the crowd, a nobody. Surely Jesus wouldn’t want to be interrupted by her – but she didn’t let that stop her either. She could have found 1,000 excuses to avoid Jesus that day, but instead she was determined to find Him in the middle of the chaos.
(HCBS) – “Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was cured of her affliction. At once Jesus realized in Himself that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My robes?”
The moment she touched the robe of Jesus, the woman knew she was healed, and Jesus knew He had healed. But I love what happens next…Jesus could have just kept walking. He knew what had happened – He is God, He knows everything. He would have done nothing wrong to just continue on His way, knowing that He had just healed this woman. In fact, the woman probably would have rather just slipped away through the crowd & remain unknown. But Jesus made it a point to stop and acknowledge what had just taken place. He wanted to assure this woman that she wasn’t just an anonymous nobody – Jesus knew her. He knew her pain, He knew her years of struggle, and He knew she was the one who had just touched Him. So when she spoke up & admitted that she was the one who had just touched His robe, this is what Jesus said to her:
Jesus wanted her to know that her faith in Him, not her act of touching his robe, was what cured her. This anonymous woman who had been living with a death sentence for 12 years – who was desperate for healing – fought her way through a crowd and reached out in faith just to touch the robe of Jesus. What she received in return was more than just healing – the Son of God gave this anonymous woman a name: Daughter. Faith gives us a relationship.
“Your faith has made you well” – Jesus wants to be so much more to us than a physical healer. He wants to be our Savior, our refuge, our stronghold. In the middle of my difficult circumstances, what am I going to trust in to “make me well?” What am I seeking to make me feel whole again? What am I willing to fight through a crowd for, in order to find & grab onto? My prayer is that God will give me the grace to fight through my crowd of emotions, pain, and circumstances – to ignore any excuses that the enemy plants in my mind – and to reach out in faith & grab onto the One who can make me well. Not for an escape from my situation – but for a peace that surpasses any human understanding (). For joy in the midst of my pain (). For a renewed perspective that this world is not my home; that my suffering is temporary and can’t even compare to the glory that will be revealed to me in eternity (). This is the healing that Christ can give – what else would we ever reach for?
26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. (ESV)
27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. (ESV)
27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” (ESV)
24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. (ESV)
29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” (ESV)
34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (ESV)
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (ESV)