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The Story of A Woman Who Bled for 12 Years and Doctor Could Not Heal Her

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God, Son, and Holy Spirit, meet us in this space, whatever space we find ourselves in. Trinity, help us to learn more about who you are through this woman. Help us to see your image in the image bearer we find in this story. Help us to sympathize, grow, and lean into her story. Give us wisdom and gentleness with ourselves today. In your name we pray, amen.

Jesus healing the bleeding woman (or “woman with an issue of blood” and other variants) is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48).

The incident occurred while Jesus was traveling to Jairus’ house, amid a large crowd, according to Mark:

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. 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.

At once Jesus realized 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.

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.

Because of the continual bleeding, the woman would have been continually regarded in Jewish law as a niddah or menstruating woman, and so ceremonially unclean. In order to be regarded as clean, the flow of blood would need to stop for at least 7 days.

Because of the constant bleeding, this woman lived in a continual state of uncleanness which would have brought upon her social and religious isolation,.It would have prevented her from getting married – or, if she was already married when the bleeding started, would have prevented her from having relations with her husband and might have been cited by him as grounds for divorce.

This bleeding woman’s story interacts with all of our stories because we, like her, have been in need of healing at some point or another. We have been outcasts or have felt abandoned by our communities or our friends. We have been in need of a merciful touch by God and by the body of Christ incarnate in our sisters and brothers here with us. Think of a time when you felt like you were at your end. Think of that space and ask God to show you where Jesus was in that space. What was he like? What did he refer to you as?

These stories are not telling us that we will always be healed, but rather, what it looks like to reach out to Jesus in times of pain and heartache, isolation and loneliness, in order to receive the gift of truth: you are beloved and known intimately by your creator.