Know the feeling? If you’ve ever had a battle with a medical situation, maybe a mental health situation, maybe a difficult relationship, the story of this lady might resonate with you. If you’ve ever struggled financially, wondering why it seems that you can never get ahead of the bills, or your car or house breaking down, and you’re sick of reaching out for help, you know what the lady is feeling. It is a feeling of being vulnerable all the time. Feeling like you are just open and wounded, and often not by your own choice. It is a forced vulnerability, where life has pushed you to a place that you didn’t choose, and yet you don’t have any other option than to place your broken, hurting self in the hands of others. It gets old doesn’t it?
Turn to Mark 5:24, and we read another story that is quite similar to the story of the centurion. In fact, many of the miracle stories of Jesus feature a person who is helpless, reaching out to Jesus for rescue. I mention this particular story because the power dynamic is almost the opposite of the power dynamic in the centurion story. It could be that you read the previous post and don’t identify with the powerful centurion. Maybe the person we meet in this post will speak to you.
In Mark 5:25, we meet a sick woman who has no power to heal her body. She has tried so many different remedies, and nothing is working. She has clearly been in the down position for years. Talk about vulnerability. Her whole life has been one of vulnerability. Imagine how tired, how depressed, how frustrated she must be feeling. Look at verses 25-26. The constant suffering, the repeated cycle of seeking a new hope, only to have every single option result in a dead end. On top of that, the large expenditure of money has left her penniless. She suffered a great deal, and yet her life just got worse.
The woman has not given up hope, though, has she? There’s a light breaking in the darkness of the land, as there is word on the street of a healer, a miracle-worker. Verses 27-28 are astounding to me: 12 years of pain and emptiness and failure, and yet this woman hears about Jesus and he awakens hope within her. It’s not a jaded hope, either. You know what I mean by jaded hope? It’s that feeling you get after years of fruitless struggle, maybe in trying to find a relationship, or maybe in trying to improve your finances, maybe in trying to get healthy, and it has been one episode of bad news after the other. You are utterly defeated, and then a friend comes to you with yet another idea. You know your friend cares about you, but they have no idea how you feel, how you’re just done with it, and so you humor them, saying, “Yeah, thanks, let’s try it,” but inside you’re really thinking, “Whatever, this isn’t going to work.” When I read verses 27-28, even after 12 years of deep struggle, this woman still has faith! She knows. She is convinced. She believes. She knows that if she brings her vulnerability to Jesus, he can heal her. I love the hope that is blazing in her eyes.
And she goes to where he is, weaving through the crowd, and she reaches out, touching his cloak. In that one act of amazing faithful vulnerability, she is healed.
Isn’t it wild that Jesus knows that power went out of him? It’s not like he saw her coming and the crowd parted, and it was just Jesus and the woman, and he reaches out and heals her. No. He didn’t reach out to her. He didn’t even see her coming. She came to him. At the moment she touched his cloak, he felt something shift in the power of the Spirit that was working through him, and he knew someone had touched him. Interestingly, there were maybe a bunch of people touching him. Look at verse 24 where we read that a large crowd pressed against him. Despite this, when the woman touches his clothes, Jesus says, “Who touched me?” I can see his disciple Peter, who tended to speak the obvious, say, “Uh, Jesus, there are like 5 people touching you. What do you mean?”
What Jesus meant was this: in the middle of the crowd, when the woman, whose life was defined by painful vulnerability, brought her vulnerability to Jesus, her faith tapped into his healing power.
I find it fascinating that Jesus doesn’t seem to have made a choice to heal the woman! It wasn’t like he had to decide, “Should I heal her, or not?” Instead we can presume that God the Father, through the power of the Spirit resident in Jesus, allowed the healing because of the woman’s faith.
That is how we bring our vulnerability to Jesus, in faith that he is powerful! This doesn’t mean that we will automatically get what we want. Numerous people were touching Jesus, but it was only this woman who was healed. Perhaps none of the people touching needed any kind of healing, yet it seems that power would be constantly flowing from him considering how many people actually need healing in their lives! But in this case, at least, Jesus only refers to the healing that occurred in this one woman’s life. Why? Because she made herself vulnerable. She is for us an example of faithful vulnerability.
Check back to tomorrow’s post, as there is one more story of vulnerability that we will learn from.