This week's woman in my devotional study is "The Woman with the Issue of Blood."
There is probably not a woman on the face of the earth who does not identify with this woman on some level.
This is her story as found in the book of Mark.
So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.
She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed."
Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'"
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.
Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Having to deal with the issue of blood once every month is enough for me (not to mention my family); this woman had to deal with it every day for twelve years.
Here's what the Bible says about a woman and her monthly period during that time in history.
When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.
Here's what the Bible says about a woman who bleeds at a time other than her period during this same time in history.
"'When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period.
Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period.
Whoever touches them will be unclean; he must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening.
I cannot even imagine the physical and mental anguish that this poor woman must have felt. Twelve years enduring what must of been physically and mentally heart breaking pain. She must have been so pale and exhausted from the constant loss of blood.
The loneliness must have been devastating as well. The lack of human contact for twelve years is hard to comprehend. No hugs. No kisses. Not even a handshake to greet you. Just isolation. Rejection. Shame. Loneliness.
I know when it is my time of month, I am probably not the most pleasant person to be around, but I can still be around people. I can hug my husband and my children. I can still go to church and greet friends with a hug or a handshake. I can sit in the same chairs as others without fear or shame. I don't have to worry about others being unclean just by brushing up against me in a crowded hallway.
But this woman had to deal with all these issues and many more every day of her life for twelve years.
So by the time we are introduced to her in the book of Mark, she must have been just at the absolute end of her rope. When we find her heading for Jesus, she is desperate for relief from her suffering.
This woman was broken mentally, physically, and financially. She had been to all the doctors she could find, and she had spent all of her money hoping they would heal her, but they never did. She had exhausted all her options.
She risked everything as she thought to herself, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Just imagine what would have happened if the people in the crowd knew who she was and knew about her issue of blood. She had to have wondered about those things, but she did not let the fear of being "found out" stop her. She kept her eyes on Jesus.
She still had faith.
So many times in life we find that when every thing else is gone..... only faith remains. Faith is ultimately all we need.
And Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Imagine how different her life would have turned out had she not had that faith and acted on it. I wonder myself how many blessings I have not received in my own life, because I didn't have the kind of faith that she had as she approached Jesus. I want that kind of faith in my life. And I don't just want to believe in that "faith".....I want to act in that "faith."
At the end of this week's devotional study the authors give a prayer challenge to all of us as women of faith. They say each night before bed remind yourself of your need for faith in your life. If you feel your faith starting to fade, ask God to take the little faith you have and fan it to a flame. Light a candle (just remember to blow out your candle before going to sleep) as a reminder of this need and say this prayer.
Father, forgive my little faith
Make it big
Reduce my ego
Make it small
Give me a chance
To touch you and be touched
No matter how foolish
No matter how frightened
No matter how strange I feel
Fan my small spark into a brightness
Lighting the way ahead
Pray this prayer like you mean it.
God honors faithfulness.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Faith is what pleases God.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Try remembering the testimony of faith that "The Woman with the Issue of Blood" has the next time you are at the end of your spiritual rope. The same God that healed her, wants to heal you. Will you believe in Him for that healing?
I have another clip here from You Tube. If you have the time and would like to listen to it, it is a monologue about "The Woman with the Issue of Blood." It is powerful, and it touches on all of the aspects of this woman's story.
O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.