Our latest guest contribution is from Wendy Bones of Coffs Harbour, Australia. Wendy brings us a fresh and beautifully personal perspective on the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:43-48. Welcome Wendy, and thankyou for reminding us that in Christ there is total healing for our ‘hidden places’ and freedom from shame.
A chance comment one day led to a series of events she could not have expected. People once known to her lived within a four hours drive from her current location. She could possibly “drop in” and catch up with them after so many years.
Absolute panic set in; no it’s too far, what’s the point, they probably aren’t interested, and so on went the excuses in her mind to not make that journey. Her husband didn’t mind either way; “your decision”. So for a day she sat in this turmoil, calling out to the Lord for His help whilst all along He had begun a work in her she couldn’t have even anticipated. Shame, fear, panic, were followed swiftly by tears and His unveiling of what was happening. You see, many years ago their last meeting was not great and her part in it had left her ashamed.
Daring herself to allow the Lord to heal this area, they made the trip, a detour of a day in total, to “catch up”. And so began the Lord’s revealing to her the hiding for many years, hiding in this area of her life, hiding from Him, hiding from herself and hiding from others the hurt, the shame.
There is a story of another woman in Luke 8:43 – 48, the story of a woman with a flow of blood who for 12 years had been hidden from society, ostracised from others, not able to participate in family or society events because of the religious laws of the day. A woman who was isolated, cut off, hidden and ashamed and having thrown everything she had at finding a cure. In verse 42 we read she “could not be healed by any”.
On this day she dared to break free from the constraints due to her condition and was in a place to hear Jesus speak and interact with many others. There was a multitude that day (verse 40) and she could easily hide in the multitude and see what Jesus was about. I am imagining there were many things going through her mind that day; are the stories true, is what I’ve heard really possible, can He really heal people and, dare I ask, can He heal me?
Jesus was caught up in conversation with Jairus who had come to worship Him and beg for his daughter who was dying. Jesus was moved by his cry for help and it was as he was going with Jairus towards his home that He was thronged by a multitude. He was “pressed into, jammed into and squeezed into” a situation where everyone and anyone could have been touching Him.
From behind Jesus the woman came and touched His garment and immediately her flow of blood stopped. Did you notice that she “came from behind” Jesus, still not able to face anyone, let alone Jesus; she approached Jesus from a place where she was still hidden. But Jesus knew. He says in verse 45 “who touched me?” Peter and those with Him stated the obvious when they said “Master, the multitudes throng and press You and You say, “Who touched me?”. But Jesus knew that someone in the crowd behind Him believed Him to be their hope, the One who could possibly heal them. He knew that in that desperate act of faith, that silent, hidden reaching out to Him, power went out from Him. The desperate, last ditch cry of a hidden woman met the power of the living God in that simple touch of His garment.
And immediately she was healed and immediately she was no longer hidden and she knew it. Verse 47 says “Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was immediately healed.”
And He said to her, “daughter be of good cheer, your faith has made you well, go in peace.” No longer ashamed, living a hidden life away from everyone else but healed and whole and brought out of hiding by the power of His life and love.
I opened with the story of another woman who had lived with shame in an area of her life for many years. So what happened that day she made the decision to connect again with old friends? Well, that day I too experienced the same healing power that flows from Jesus, healing for the years of shame and all that involved. We made the journey that day and by His grace we shared a remarkable reunion. Not a great deal was said about the past, it wasn’t necessary; for them it was a forgotten memory. What did happen was a sharing of all the Lord had done in our lives over the intervening years and a departure where we were able to pray for and bless one another. And for me there was a new freedom, a desire to no longer hide, a desire to have nothing hidden from Him.
We too know and can know the same bringing out of the hidden places into His glorious light and love no matter what it is that causes us in our brokenness to hide or to feel we need to hide. The same Jesus still responds today to that step of faith to reach out to Him, to touch His garment so to speak; to dare to believe that He can bring the same healing and wholeness to all areas of our lives.
I love the JB Phillips translation of verse 47 which says “and when the woman realised that she had not escaped notice”. We never escape His notice; it doesn’t matter how many other demands there are on His time, His attention – His love for each and every one of us is so true and complete that our smallest attempt to gain his attention will never escape His notice.
He cannot be other than Himself in every interaction He has with us. He cannot but respond to our reaching out in faith, our feeble cry for help, and our desire to come out of hiding, to be set free from all that has caused us to be alienated both from God and from one another. He cannot but respond with all the power of Heaven to set captives free, to heal the broken hearted to make the blind see. He is who He is. In Him there is no need of hiding.
“O Lord where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.“ Psalm 139:7-10