This past weekend, our chuch hosted a ladies’ conference. Our pastor’s wife does these yearly. We went through Denise Glenn’s “Freedom for Mothers.” She asked me to speak about the principle of the cross and dying to our flesh–the previous chapter dealt with several major sins that mothers (women) can struggle with like being controlling, passive, infantile, egotistical, etc.
As I prayed about what to say, I was reading through the gospels, particularly Mark, and I read the story of the hemorrhagic woman in chapter 5. Her story grabbed my heart, and God impressed on me that this is what I needed to talk about.
Mark 5:25-34 And a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse, after hearing about Jesus, came up in the crowd behind Him, and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I shall get well.” And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came 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 affliction.”
As I pondered, I remembered there were passages in the Law with instructions for these cases. So after reading this story, I asked the ladies if we could imagine what her life was like for a minute:
Leviticus 15:25-27 Now if a woman has a discharge of her blood many days, not at the period of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond that period, all the days of her impure discharge she shall continue as though in her menstrual impurity; she is unclean. ‘Any bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her like her bed at menstruation; and every thing on which she sits shall be unclean, like her uncleanness at that time. ‘Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
Leviticus 20:18 ‘If there is a man who lies with a menstruous woman and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow, and she has exposed the flow of her blood; thus both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
We thought for a minute–if this woman were here at our conference under these laws, where would she sit? She would have to have her own place, marked “unclean” so others wouldn’t sit there. Who would want even to hug or touch her? How did she visit her friends? Did she carry her own “unclean” stool with her? Had she been married then her husband divorced her because they couldn’t sleep together? Had she never married? What an affliction to have !
Then I went on to talk about how this woman is like us and is our example in several ways:
1. Her problem came from within her, and our sin problems come from within us. We are tempted to blame others or our past for our struggles with sin, but that is a hopeless line of thinking. If I can be truthful, that my sin struggles flow from inside me, from my heart, then there is hope because God can transform me.
2. 12 years is a long time. It’s easy for us to think that we’ve had sin habits for so long that it is hopeless to change. But it is simply untrue. There is hope from God that we can be transformed. Sometimes I am tempted to think that my sins are stronger than God, but that is a lie. God has all power to make me perfect in this life, yet He has chosen not to deal with us in that way. There are things we have to learn by living in faith, even in our daily struggles with our sins.
Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
3. This woman went to many doctors, spent all she had, and was left in worse condition. When we deal with our sin problems, there is only one true answer, the cross and death upon it. By faith, my old man died on the cross in Christ, and I have to come back to this truth continually. My flesh is here with me still, but I cannot help myself escape from my sins. Other “cures” are no cures at all.
Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
4. She wanted healing but no attention. . . . Can you imagine her, with her heart pounding, weaving through the crowd, trying to get close enough just to reach out and touch Jesus’ cloak fringe? In all other miracles that I can think of, the people came up front and asked specifically for what they needed. No one tried to get healing secretly. . . . When I consider myself, I must be honest that I sometimes wonder that God would be interested in me, for surely He has all the injustice in the world to consider, the billions of people He cares for, etc. Who am I with my little sin problems? . . . But Jesus constantly showed us, and shows us in this story, that the individual is very important to Him. Another proof we have of this is that He gives His Spirit to each believer. He could have only given It to some of us, or only given It on certain occasions. But no, this very personal God gave His Spirit equally to each one who believes in Him. He swallows us up in Himself–the Spirit in us, we in Christ, Christ in God. We are surrounded by His being.
5. She had faith that Jesus could heal her. Did she immediately have faith when she first heard of His miracles? Was she skeptical at first? We don’t know. But we do know that she had right faith and that faith is a gift from God. So, let’s be honest with God. Maybe I don’t have faith that He can change me from a sin habit, and the first step is just to tell Him that and ask Him to give me right faith in Him concerning my sins and His ability to transform. He will do it in His time. God once very clearly showed me that He will not share the glory of my sanctification with me. He sanctifies; He will get 100% of the glory that is due for my sanctification here on earth.
The more I live, the more I learn to sit at His feet and look into the beauty of Jesus, His sorrow and suffering that He bore with such love to us, His resurrection display of God’s absolute power, and the like. The more I see and am allowed to understand, the more I long for His love to be in every cell of my being. . . . I am still early on the road of transformation, but I am there, and God will lead me Home.
Thank You, God, for sharing this woman’s life with us and encouraging us with Your truths seen here.