Mark 5: 24-34; 6:56
For a dozen years she had bled. She had witnessed her life blood pass out of her body; her attempts to stop or slow its flow had been futile. She had been helpless to replace or replenish.
Well intentioned friends and neighbors had offered every remedy and every suggestion regardless of how absurd. And she had tried them all. Every single one. She had followed every single prescription and recommendation of the physicians. She had lost track of how many doctors she had approached and visited. Each one had promised to fix the problem. Each one, for a hefty fee, assured her that his answer would relieve her of this bleeding of herself.
But they had been over-confident and misguided about their abilities and capabilities. She believed some had just simply lied. Lied because they thought she wouldn't live to tell anyone that their so-called cures had not worked. Now, no doctor would see her—her money was gone.
Monetarily she had spent all that she had—money and time wasted on remedies and treatments that failed. The fact that they did not work was disheartening, but more horrible was that her condition had worsened. Her body was depleted. As her health had declined, her spirit had dehydrated.
How many of us have been where this woman was? Bleeding for twelve years. Twelve years of dealing with the same daily pain and tedious routine. Her physical ailment was destroying every aspect of her life. She thought her suffering was just too insignificant for someone to take notice. And she felt weak and powerless.
Our bleeding may not be physical. We may not be depleted of iron and the actual life blood of our bodies...but still we bleed. And often we cannot arrest the flow. We can not plug the leak.
Therefore, many of our relationships are anemic. Pale and leaden. Pallid and infirm.
Our weak prayers seem barren and brittle. They do not move past our raised arms or they evaporate like steam—fevered and passionate-- and then simply gone.
Our daily reading is like inhaling dust. The words are arid and tasteless. And the worship doesn't penetrate; it is just rote noise.
Our tolerance levels are depleted. Our pain thresholds are reduced.
Well meaning and good intentioned people offer solicited and unsolicited advice and suggestions. We pay professionals to medicate our anemia. And like The Bleeding Woman of Mark, we often find that we are in a desperate, dangerous state.
And desperate people resort to extreme measures.
They become bold. In a boldness birthed from being at rock bottom, the woman decided she could wait no longer. Garnering her last bit of her strength and gathering her last shred of hope, she went to find Jesus. Something compelled her. She was pulled by an invisible tether.
She took a risk. She gambled.
One last chance. One final possibility.
She was determined just to touch his clothes. If she could just touch the hem of his garments, if her fingertips could just brush the edge of his cloak—something would change.
When I have been bleeding too long—there is something in the deepest part of me that knows that if I will just attempt to touch the hem of Jesus' garment then something will shift.
I do not have to have an epiphany; I do not have to have an experience.
I do not believe touching the hem of his garment is degrading, because there are times and seasons when all we can do is crawl. And hems brush the floor. Sometimes all we can do is reach into the empty spaces between all the other flailing arms and touch his garment.
This is a simple profoundness. Just attempt to touch him in whatever way you can manage. He will make himself accessible. Our suffering will not be too insignificant for him to notice. He knows how long we have been bleeding. He knows what has caused our anemia. Jesus is not misguided about his abilities and capabilities. He will not lie. Only he can provide what we need. He is what we need.
But be forewarned.
Jesus will ask, “Who touched my clothes?”
He will ask this question of us. And we must answer. We will fall at his feet and pour out the whole truth. And he will listen. Then he will look us squarely in the eye and declare that the mustard seed risk of our faith, transformed by his unlimited compassion and power, has freed us from our suffering.
Are you bleeding? Are you anemic?
No money required. No epiphanies.
I see the hem of his garment. It has left a trail in the tasteless dust.
Be bold. Take the risk.
Crawl if you have to.