Imagine having a 12-year struggle.
One where you’ve tried everything humanly possible, and spent all the money you have only for things to get worse:
“A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse." - Mark 5
It must have been even more frustrating because she tried everything that she could. By this point, she was probably on the edge. I guess after 12 years you don’t have anything to lose, so you'll try anything:
"When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” - Mark 5
But, it’s not just about this her...
It’s an incredible story, one that people have shared over and over again. But this time, when I read this passage, I wondered about the rest of the crowd.
Jesus was used to crowds. Thousands of people followed him everywhere he went, desperate to hear and see a great leader. In a group this large, it's highly likely that there would have been many other people going through some lifelong struggle. But for some reason, no one thought of trying what this woman tried.
God himself was right there (with a track record of miracles) and none of them thought to try and touch him in a purposeful way. They were probably pushing and brushing past him, but no one actually put their faith into action.
It made me wonder: how many times has the solution to your problem been to act, but we've just done nothing?
‘The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and [action] and you get the same thing: a corpse.’ - James 2:26
It might be out of fear, doubt about whether prayer really works, or frustration at the fact that all our efforts have amounted to nothing. Whatever it is, it makes us take the backseat. We blend into the crowd, watching other people's lives turn around for good.
But it doesn't need to be like that.
It’s all in the detail
Clearly, this woman did something most people wouldn't have done. Hence Jesus' reaction:
At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. - Mark 5
Jesus noticed one touch, out of hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in the crowd. The disciples dismissed it, but Jesus didn't. He doesn’t miss a single detail in our lives: even when things feel small, dead-end or insignificant. We all know how encouraging it is when our loved ones pay attention to the little things, it shows just how much they care. It’s the same with God, it’s a relationship where everything counts, even ‘down to the last detail’.
‘In a crowd of ten thousand, you don’t miss a thing’ - Amanda Cook
As it was once said, ‘the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’. You bring your commitment, your willingness to say yes, and He brings strength, solutions and solace.
Forget the protocol
Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” - Mark 5
It makes sense that this woman was fearful. She didn't have the societal right to do what she did: she was a woman (gasp!), a sick person and had no special 'holy' or high standing in society. What’s beautiful about this story is that Jesus didn't let protocol or societal norms get in the way of responding to someone who was committed to connecting with him.. All that mattered was that she was willing to try.
Christianity is a call to boldness, a relationship, not a series of processes that we need to follow. Jesus says ‘your faith has healed you’, not your practices, not your theology, not your rule-keeping. Your faith. The kind of faith that empowers you, instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone or something to give you the permission.