Lately I've been thinking a lot about the bleeding woman in the Bible. Her story can be found in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, and Luke 8:43-48. Here's a Jes-version paraphrase:
So this woman has been ill with some kind of bleeding problem for 12 long years. She's gone to doctor after doctor and spent all she has on finding a cure, to no avail; in fact, she's sicker than ever. She's heard about the man, Jesus, who heals people from disease, and today, she finds out he's come to her region. She longs to get close to him.
[Now understand, Jewish law was super-strict about cleanliness. A bleeding problem would mean you were unclean and could not be a part of the community.] Imagine if she's found out: an unclean woman, entering a crowd, touching countless people and making them unclean! But this woman is desperate. If it's true that he heals diseases, she could be freed from this curse forever. She decides to brave the risk because after all, what does she have to lose?
Off she goes, and soon she reaches the outskirts of the milling crowd. She can't call out to Jesus, because that would draw unwanted attention. She thinks that maybe if she could just manage to touch his clothing, she will be healed, so she eases her way through the crowd until she's behind him. She reaches out and brushes his robe with her finger and immediately feels it: SHE'S HEALED.
There's more to the story, but here's where I went today: I thought about my life as a follower of Jesus. I think when I'm not careful, I settle for being a part of the crowd. I walk with him, ride the wave of ministry, enjoy seeing him in action. I marvel at his good work and feel glad to be a part of the family of God.
But if I'm just a part of the crowd, I miss out on experiencing him personally. I lose touch with my own desperation and forget just how badly I need him in the every day. The bleeding woman has nothing left and she knows Jesus has what she needs, so she very purposefully reaches for him. She seeks to touch him in faith, even afraid, and receives healing.
I'm just like her, so often. I'm so afraid in the crowd of people, afraid to be noticed for my unclean state, afraid to be denied what I so badly want and need. I love how Jesus responds to her. He notices her even in her attempt to stay hidden, knowing she's unclean but not exposing that truth to the crowd. He doesn't shame her, but he commends her faith and calls her daughter, giving her acceptance and love.
What a sweet, intimate meeting in the middle of the chaos.