Book of Mark

The woman who never stopped hoping (Mark 5, Part 3)

Pray

Sovereign Lord, who was, and is, and will always be—God for eternity past, and God for eternity future—what is man that you are mindful of him? Who am I that you are mindful of me? May the sound of your love for me echo in my heart and back to the world around me. May my life resonate with your love.

Read

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
(Mark 5:25-34 ESV)

Reflect

At church on Sunday, the preacher said, “Hurt people hurt people. Loved people love people.” As I read this passage tonight, I thought of that. This woman had been hurting for years. Twelve, to be exact. Physicians couldn’t help. But, after exhausting all other avenues, she heard about Jesus, and what she heard made her go to him and place herself beside him, close enough to touch him. Somehow, she knew she was loved enough to hope for healing.

I have a friend who has suffered from chronic pain for years. I was thinking of her today when I read this. While medication and other therapies have helped with pain management, she has not been healed. What does someone like her think, reading this passage? Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” If someone isn’t healed, is her faith unable to make her well? Is her faith somehow deficient?

This is a difficult question. Sometimes God heals people who have great faith faith, sometimes God doesn’t. Sometimes God heals people who have no faith; sometimes God doesn’t. The healing power of God is like the Holy Spirit of God—it blows where it wills. And it is truly a mystery.

But I do believe with all my heart that when we trust God and put our faith in Jesus, we are made “well.” Our wellness may not look like another person’s wellness. But have you ever known a man or woman suffering serious illness, yet filled with inexplicable peace? Wellness that passes all understanding? I have. And I have to say, the peace I have witnessed in some people who are suffering, like this woman suffered, is enviable. While perfectly healthy people suffer all sorts of emotional turmoil, I know physically ill people who are well, who have inner shalom. There is some peace that is only possible when one trusts Jesus in the midst of great turmoil. This divine peace is a mystery, and a gift.

I love this woman’s tenacity, pressing through the crowd, weak from loss of blood, probably bearing an odor—a stench associated with her disease. I love that she had been trying to find relief for twelve years, and had never given up. What if she had given up on healing after ten years? Yet there she was, still hoping enough in the possibility of healing to keep on pursuing it.

One of the big lessons I take from this passage is not the obvious “believe for healing” conclusion. The lesson that means the most to me is that she did not give up. She did not lose hope. She continued to hope, despite the inadequacies of her doctors and despite the years of suffering. I think that we—at least, I—am ready to give up way too soon. But we have an important lesson from this woman: keep on hoping. You never know when your time of waiting is up, and when it is, you want to be found walking beside Jesus, pressing in to him and touching the hem of his robe.

Apply

Are you on the verge of giving up hope for something? Perhaps it’s physical healing or deliverance. Perhaps it’s for a spouse. Perhaps it’s for the salvation of a loved one. Do not give up. Pray now that God will give you faith like the woman he healed of her blood disease. And seek daily to walk beside Jesus, pressing in to him, even “touching” the hem of his garment. Let his love cover you—and make you well.
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