And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had endured much suffering under [the hands of] many physicians and had spent all that she had, and was no better but instead grew worse. She had heard the reports concerning Jesus, and she came up behind Him in the throng and touched His garment, for she kept saying, If I only touch His garments, I shall be restored to health. And immediately her flow of blood was dried up at the source, and [suddenly] she felt in her body that she was healed of her [distressing] ailment. (Mark 5:25-29)
I love the story of the woman with the issue of blood. Probably because it’s one of the stories I can most identify with, and a lesson I believe God really wants us to take a hold of – it’s one of the few stories that appear in 3 out of 4 of the Gospels (Matthew 9, Luke 8 and Mark 5).
I ask if you would, even for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of this woman. She is nameless, probably without a husband or family, and people identify her not for who she is, but by what is wrong with her. For twelve years, she is simply the ‘bleeding woman’. People gossip about her behind her back and steer clear of her in public. She is not welcome into the temple or any place of worship because she is considered unclean. She is ridiculed and looked down upon for something that was perhaps beyond her control. And so, like anyone in her situation would do, she spends everything she has looking for help from people who claim they can offer it to her – anything to feel like she belonged. Anything to be normal. Anything to feel ‘set right’.
Sound familiar? It definitely does to me. I have been the Woman with the Issue of Blood on more than one occasion, and I too have spent time and money investing into things and people that I believed could give me some sort of healing in one area or the other – or at the very least relief from whatever was ailing me. But all I ever found was more suffering. I found that people disappoint and hurt, and that the artificial wells that we seek refreshment from always run dry.
So here this woman is. At the end of her rope. In even more pain and suffering from all the treatments people have prescribed her. She cannot imagine living another day in this hell… but then she hears a rumor, a story about a man who is traveling the country healing people – sick people, lame people, possessed people – even raising others from the dead! Suddenly her despair turns into hope. Could it be possible that there was a physician who could heal simply by speaking the word? And if there was such a man – a holy man – surely he would never entertain someone like her in his presence. She was neither an official of any repute nor did she have any money left to pay him. And she was unclean! She would never be granted audience with him.
So she hatched a plan. She sought out this healing man, pushed her way through the crowds, ignoring the cries of disgust and the curses of those offended by her very presence, and reached out for the hem of his robe.
“If only I can touch him, I know I’ll be healed.”
And she was.
Two things strike me about this story:
The first is that this woman was not the only one to touch Jesus. Mark continues in verses 30-32 of chapter 5:
And Jesus, recognizing in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around immediately in the crowd and said, Who touched My clothes? And the disciples kept saying to Him, You see the crowd pressing hard around You from all sides, and You ask, Who touched Me? Still He kept looking around to see her who had done it.
There were a ton of people touching Jesus. But only one was immediately healed. Why was this?
I believe what made this one woman different from everyone in the crowd – what activated the healing power in her without Jesus even having to speak a word – is that she believed. The Woman with the Issue of Blood came expectant. She touched the hem of his garment believing to be healed, and so received what she came believing for.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked God for something without really believing He could do it – or at least that He would do it for me. And 90% of those times I didn’t receive what I asked for, because disbelief hampers God’s ability to do the miraculous. It’s why Jesus couldn’t perform many miracles in his hometown (Mark 6:5). Meeting God expecting Him to answer can make the difference between seeing Him at work in your life and not. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:16
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
The second thing that struck me about this passage is that the Bible says that the woman was healed at the source of her problem. We live in a world where everyone is trying to put a topical dressing on everything – whether it’s through medication or regular counseling or feel-good messages of self-help – everyone is trying to give you something to deal with the symptoms of whatever issues you’re dealing with. Treating symptoms is great, but the thing about treating symptoms is that you’ll be treating them for the rest of your life. God doesn’t just want to treat or hold back the symptoms of whatever is going on in your life – God gets right at the source. Whether it’s physical sickness or depression or financial insecurity – God doesn’t throw you some pills or give you an hour on the couch or extend your credit line – He stops the bleeding at the source so you’ll never have to deal with it again. He gets right into the places you can’t even see – places you didn’t even know were there, and exposes whatever the source of your bleeding is –
And then He cauterizes the wounds in your life.
I have had a lot of bleeds in my life. Areas of doubt and self-loathing that I thought could be healed by losing weight or dressing better or being in a relationship, but those things were only bandages, and underneath the wounds continued to fester… until I brought them to God, believing that He could do with them what I couldn’t – what nobody and nothing else could. And like this woman, I was inexplicably healed. I can’t pinpoint where or when it happened – but somewhere, somehow, the bleeding stopped, and I was healed.
I don’t know what areas of your life you’re bleeding out in, but I want to encourage you to approach Jesus boldly and ask for healing. He gives it, and He heals once and for all.