Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:25-34 (NRSV)
Twelve years of never being touched. Twelve years of feeling dirty. Twelve years of waiting for a cure. This unnamed woman of the Bible who bled for twelve years experienced all of that and more. As a woman who has previously struggled with feminine issues, I still can only barely commiserate with her and for many reasons. I live in a time where I can go about my life regardless of my physical state. I didn’t suffer nonstop for twelve years (may have felt like it, but I didn’t). I had excellent medical care who offered a cure. All through that time of struggle, I was still cared for, touched, and welcomed in society.
To our nameless woman who held much greater faith and trust and hope, I want to elaborate on your story for it’s more than just touching the hem of Jesus. It does have much to do with touch because for twelve years you were unable to be touched or touch others. You were considered unclean. If someone did touch you, they had to wash themselves and be “unclean” themselves. You were not allowed in the marketplace. You were not allowed to attend church. You were not allowed to be around your family or friends. Living in an era where having children was pivotal, being unable to conceive only added to the heartache and suffering.
Research has proven the need for touch. As early as moments after birth, mothers are encouraged to have skin on skin contact with their newborn. Physical touch has been known to reduce stress; lowering blood pressure and risks of heart disease. I’m a hugger. I hug people before I shake hands. I hug or squeeze or pat backs daily. When I was in college one of my favorite professors would walk around during exams and gently squeeze our shoulders. That simple act of touch made a huge difference in my performance in that class and how I taught my own students when I was teaching in the classroom.
I cannot imagine going even a day without connecting with someone or even my dog’s furry touch. This woman, who bravely and boldly, reached out to Jesus used touch to change her life. I love where Jesus can FEEL the power leaving Him after she touches the hem of His shawl. And why? Why would she dare touch Jesus? She touched Him out of faith, out of hope, out of desperation. She secretly touched the back of His hem, not surprising after years of being a pariah and not touching anyone. I LOVE Jesus turning back to this frightened woman and, probably with a hug, tells her she is healed because of her faith. Her faith. Twelve years of suffering, cured. Healed. Saved. Redeemed. Because of faith.
“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ.” Galatians 2:15-16 NIV
What are you doing to insure your level of faith; a faith that would boldly reach out to Christ? A faith that holds and trusts the truth and promises of His word. My sisters in Christ, hold fast to the One who holds you in the palm of His hand and deep within His heart.