by Virginia Forste
Our Tooth Fairy is unreliable. Sometimes she has to come back the next night to grab the tooth. One time she couldn’t find it, dropped the money, and flew away. It’s no wonder that Jesus tells us to have the faith of a child. My children continue to believe despite the unpredictability of their dental nymph. I wonder how many times she has to fail them before cracks begin to form in their belief.
She’s Got Issues
In the Gospel of Mark, we are introduced to a “woman who had been sick for twelve years with a hemorrhage” (Mark 5:25, TLB).
The Amplified Bible of that account puts it like this: “A woman [in the crowd] had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much [suffering] at the hands of many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse” (Mark 5:25, 26).
If I don’t get over a cold in three or four days, I make an appointment with my doctor to find a remedy. Twelve years is a long time to be ill. In her Bible study, It’s All Under Control, author Jennifer Dukes Lee researched typical solutions the woman with a bleeding condition would have received from rabbis acting as doctors. According to the 1885 book, Palestine in the Time of Christ, the treatments would have included gum of Alexandria, alum, and garden saffron mixed with wine and then possibly a beverage of Persian onions boiled in wine accompanied with the words, “Be free from thy sickness.” If that was unsuccessful, she would have been taken to a place where two roads meet, given a cup of wine, let somebody suddenly come up from behind her, surprise her, and say, “Be free from thy sickness.” Other treatments included digging pits, burning vine branches, and more.
After twelve years of suffering and unsuccessful treatments, Lee writes, “It would have been understandable if the bleeding woman had lost her faith.” We can imagine her thoughts because sometimes they are our thoughts, too. Maybe it’s God’s will that I remain sick. Maybe God has forgotten about me. Maybe God isn’t real and there’s no hope.
Yet, we know that this woman still had just enough hope left. Mark 5:27, 28 tells us, “She had heard [reports] about Jesus, and she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His outer robe. For she thought, ‘If I just touch His clothing, I will get well’” (AMP).
Reminders of God’s Faithfulness
We need to understand Jewish customs in order to see the power in this moment. In the book of Numbers, we read a command that God gives to his people, “Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments” (Number 15:38, NIV). They were a reminder to obey God’s commands.
Today, Jewish people still wear these tzitzit (tassels) on fabric under their shirts or on a prayer shawl called a tallit. The tassels needed to be hanging out so that the wearer would be reminded to obey God’s commands.
Jesus also wore the tzitzit. Malachi 4:2 (AMP) tells of a prophecy that the messiah would come with “healing in his wings.” The Hebrew word for “wings” is kanafim, which also means “corners,” where the tzitzit are placed. When the woman touched the corner of Jesus’ robe, she wasn’t just hoping to grab any part of his robe—she was showing her faith in Jesus’ identity as the ultimate Healer and as the Son of God.
We see the magnificent result of her faith: “Immediately her flow of blood was dried up; and she felt in her body [and knew without any doubt] that she was healed of her suffering. . . . Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith [your personal trust and confidence in Me] has restored you to health; go in peace and be [permanently] healed from your suffering” (Mark 5:29, 34, AMP).
Have you ever played this classic game with a baby? You cover the baby’s face with your hands and ask out loud where the baby is. The baby is fully convinced that you have disappeared, simply because he or she cannot see you. As adults we find this humorous because we know we haven’t gone anywhere; only the baby thinks we’re missing. Sadly, we do this to God sometimes. We don’t sense or see God working so we think he must have cut his losses and moved onto more important matters.
Jennifer Dukes Lee cautions us:
“Do not confuse divine delay with disappearance.”
Do you need to hear that today?
Twelve years was not long enough to completely quell the woman’s faith. Jesus’ ministry was just over three years long. I imagine this woman coming upon a teenage Jesus. If they had met before this moment, she would not have known who he was. And it wasn’t his time yet for him to heal her.
What can we learn from the bleeding woman?
- We can believe that Jesus and his power are real. We have so many firsthand accounts of his miracles in the Bible. Just like the bleeding woman, we can believe these stories and strengthen our faith. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ” (AMP). A great way to hear and believe is to connect in person at church or watch the messages from God’s Word online. Here’s a link to our senior minister’s message last week about God’s reliability.
- Big things happen when our faith aligns with God’s timing. If you’re in a season of waiting, don’t give up. We can reach for God and he will be there. Jesus promises us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7, 8, NIV).
We can cling to this promise from God’s Word:
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” (emphasis mine, 1 John 4:16, NIV).
Unlike my home’s Tooth Fairy, God is real and reliable 100% of the time. No teeth required!
Virginia Forste is a former elementary school teacher. She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and leading Moms’ Group.