Over the course of a few years, I’ve been blessed to encounter an assortment of women. There is nothing more delightful than meeting and hearing the story of a fellow sojourner. Three left a lasting impression-thus significantly impacting my journey.
Woman number one: A nameless woman resting in a wheelchair at church. Brain cancer had robbed her of health. Chemo had robbed her of strength. Yet she stood. I couldn’t help but stare. Whatever the words of the hymn declared, they resonated in her spirit and she couldn’t help but stand. In spite of her circumstances. With all the strength that was within her-she stood to give glory to the only One that gave her reason to flourish in the midst of the storm.
Woman number two: Her life had been marked by abuse. Controlling calories was an effort to bring stability to her shaken heart. A battle waged within her between what she was created to be and what she saw in a mirror. Reaching to Jesus, she set out to serve Him with her whole life-despite the fact that she was wresting with this wounding of her spirit. She would become one of my greatest advocates and a woman passionately encouraging women that struggled with their identity.
Woman number three: 12 years. Ostracized from society. Dirty. Unclean. 12 long years of daily bleeding. She had tried everything. Broke in every sense of the word. She was a woman in the bible. No name—just a condition. Her identity was rooted in humiliation. Yet this nameless lady took an extraordinary step to become “clean”.
All three of these women are examples of how God comes into the ordinary, yet difficult and sometimes painful circumstances -and by the power of His love and the grace of His sacrifice- He allows me to be a women I could not be on my own.
I met woman number three in Mark chapter 5.
“A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.
At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!”
But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story.
Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
“Be healed of your plague.” Wow! Before those words she had placed her situation into the hands of others and nothing happened-except that she got worse. She was deteriorating.
In various seasons I’ve tried the same strategy and ended with similar results. In times of anxiety I’ve worried more. The worry became a stomach ache and so the story goes. My decisions did nothing to improve my situation. Nothing.
I love verse 27 in the New International Version. It says, “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak…” She had heard. We have no reason to think that she had been anywhere in the crowd prior to this encounter. She was deemed unclean, after all. Oh that I would have the kind of faith that didn’t wait to see results. Haven’t I heard of the goodness of Christ?
When she reached out, pushing through the masses of people (as an unclean woman) to touch Jesus, her body was healed from her disease. She didn’t ponder the ramification of being exposed in her condition. She probably couldn’t stand the shunning any longer.
Adam T. Barr said it like this, “For a moment, imagine the courage it took. Pressing her way through the crowd to touch a rabbi, the woman with the issue of blood trampled on conventions with each step. In her physical condition, to touch a rabbi meant he too would become ceremonially unclean. For the average leader, such an affront would be serious indeed. Yet neither fear of His wrath, nor the crowd’s opinion stopped her. Instead, she was drawn forward by a strong, stubborn faith. Her belief in Jesus, the healer, could not be crushed. May we have such faith!”
When I bring my broken pieces (unclean motives, slanderous speech, pride, etc) to my Restorer, no longer concerned with who might “find out”, He is willing to make me whole. Isn’t that reassuring? I don’t have to get pretty or fix all that ails me before I reach out to my Master. What He said to the unnamed woman, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole,” He says to me.
Friends, He is positioned to restore the broken places within us. We’ve got to take a risk, take Him at His word, and reach toward Him. He’s waiting.
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36