I have heard many sermons about the woman with the issue of blood. Usually the preacher awkwardly explains her 12-year ailment the best he can, and effectively gives an encouraging Word for anyone listening–male or female; but it seems to me that this is a topic for us girls to really dive into.
The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.
A woman’s heart lends itself to different issues than a man’s does. This doesn’t make any man’s preaching less valuable to those of us of the opposite gender, but it is a factor. I imagine it was a huge factor for this woman found in Matthew 9, Mark 5 and Luke 8. She had spent all her money trying to get the help she needed, but her health was only deteriorating further. It seems everyone had given up on her.
Jewish people were commanded to separate themselves from anyone or anything “unclean,” and a woman’s menses made her and anything she touched “unclean.” If anyone touched her, or something she had touched (like her seat or bed) that person became unclean as well. This term didn’t mean that she needed to wash her hands or that others should wear rubber gloves around her. It meant they had to take a full bath and do their laundry. Then they had to wait seven days and go to the temple to make a sacrifice for their impurity. (You can find all this in Leviticus 15)
Understanding this custom brings depth to this woman’s “issue”–it wasn’t just pain and sickness, this woman was suffering from twelve years of being an untouchable outcast.
Have you ever been in that kind of a place, where you felt helpless, hopeless and unwanted? Shame comes in all sorts of packages. It may be brought on by a habbit you have, something you did, or something that you were born with or was done to you–but generally shame makes you feel disqualified for society. Maybe you have sought help for your “issues” from doctors, rehab or therapy, but you only find yourself getting worse and worse. Glean from the experience of this woman who sought out Jesus for her healing.
It is often said, “check the fruit on the tree” before taking advice from someone. That’s just good wisdom, right? If a man is stressed out and in horrible debt, it may be better to leave his financial advice on the table. If a woman has never lost a child, it may be best not to take offense to her clueless console. This doesn’t mean that if a pastor has never had a period he cannot preach on it, nor does it mean that if he has never lost a child he cannot help you (Trust me on that one!). It does mean, however, that if the people all around you make you feel outcast and ashamed and all the help they have to offer you only drains and discourages you, then maybe it’s time to use what little strength you have left to crawl through the muck and mire to get to the One who can heal you–inside and out.
Jesus didn’t have a menstrual cycle, but He understood exactly what this nameless woman needed–physically, spiritually and emotionally. She was bleeding internally and externally and He cared very much about both sides of that. Read all three accounts of the story and you will see that after she touched His robe, He sought her out and had her speak about her problem. I don’t believe His questions were a casual concern for where His power went. I believe He not only cared deeply, but He knew she needed to be heard. She needed to speak. Too often we try to fix our own problems; we seek help from professionals or priests, but we don’t expose it all–we hide the details of our shame. We keep our issues silent. Perhaps we fear more rejection or no validation or that the one we are sharing with will not come through for us. We guard our hearts and try to pretend it is no big deal. But it is.
And Jesus cares about your issues.
He might not have suffered the same way you do, after all, He never fall into the shame that comes with addictions and sin–but He felt the weight of it when He hung on the cross to set us free from ours. He certainly knows the shame that comes with someone else’s sin. Maybe He wasn’t raped–but He was betrayed with a kiss, His clothes were ripped off of Him and He was beaten badly and then put in a parade for all to gaze at His shame. Yea, He has fruit on the tree, and He welcomes you to partake of it freely. The woman with the issue of blood did, and after twelve years of suffering, she was healed instantly. Instantly.
Sometimes it just takes a word from the Master to be set free from our issues. Take time today to listen for that life-altering Voice.
Jesus, you understand my issues. Please help me with them. Others have let me down, but I believe you can set me free. Speak to my heart and show me what I need to share with you. I don’t even know what I’m feeling sometimes, but you do. I am so glad I don’t have to find all the words because you know the depth of what little I do say. God, this is what I’m feeling right now….
Catrina Welch is an image- and life-coach whose message is not as much “what not to wear” as it is, “Know Who You Are,” which is the title of her book of guidelines for your personal image identity. Catrina has also written a Bible study to help women overcome their image issues. It is titled Supreme MakeOver: a Rich and Refreshing Devotional Experience. Her other books include Footprints Through the Sand: a Consolidation of Life-altering stories about Loving and Loosing a Trisomy-18 Baby and Confident Beauty: Reflecting the One Who Made You with the Images in Your Mirror and Your Soul, which will be available soon.