The Bleeding Woman

Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer;
answer me, for I need your help.
Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God.
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
for I am calling on you constantly.
Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you.
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD;
hear my urgent cry.
I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble,
and you will answer me.
No pagan god is like you, O Lord.
None can do what you do!
All the nations you made
will come and bow before you, Lord;
they will praise your holy name.
For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
Teach me your ways, O LORD,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you. (Psalm 86:1–11 NLT)

Each Saturday during Lent, we will explore a story or profile of peace in action: people who are acting as shalom-bearers in a world increasingly in need of God’s peace.

It had been twelve years. For more than a decade, she had been suffering. Whether she was actually menstruating that entire time, or it was some other affliction, it made no difference as far as Jewish law was concerned. Until she was no longer bleeding for seven consecutive days and could purify herself with a mikveh – a ritual bath – she was a pariah.

According to the rules handed down by the rabbis, she could not share a bed with her husband. He could not even touch her, lest he risk also becoming unclean. In fact, anyone who came in contact with her would be rendered unclean, and nobody who is unclean is able to enter the Temple to worship.

For twelve years, she had been effectively cut off. All her money had gone toward trying to solve this problem, but nothing had worked – despite all the doctors and medicines, she had only grown worse. Yet, there were rumors of a traveling rabbi who had healed others, afflictions far worse than her own. A paralyzed man. A deformed hand. And many others.

She saw the crowd around him as he gathered with his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, so she pushed forward to be able to ask him for help. Before she was able to catch his attention, the leader of the local synagogue fell at the rabbi’s feet, pleading for him to come to his house to heal his daughter.

Her chance might be slipping away, so as the crowd began to follow the synagogue leader and the rabbi and his disciples, the woman knew she needed to make her move. Even if she couldn’t catch the rabbi’s attention, she could still touch his robe and be healed. Immediately after she grasped at his clothes, she could feel her wound closing. The bleeding that had been constant for the past twelve years had finally stopped. She was healed.

The rabbi also stopped. “Who touched my robe?” he asked. The woman – fearful she had done something wrong, but still knowing she was healed and therefore this man was more than just a simple rabbi – stepped forward and fell on her knees in front of her healer. She told him of her troubles and what she had just done, how she believed simply touching his robe would be enough to heal her.

In response, he told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

“Go in peace.” Not only was she now well, healed from her twelve-year affliction, but she was also made whole again, no longer a pariah who made everything and everyone she touched unclean. She could once more enter the Temple to worship. She could be part of society once more. This rabbi, Jesus, had made her whole.

(This story was adapted from Mark 5:21–34.)

Michael Benson is the NAB communications director