“Because she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She was thinking, if I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be healed. Her bleeding stopped immediately, and she sensed in her body that her illness had been healed.” Mark 4:24b-34 CEB
We have all been there, that place where we feel as if there is nothing we can do that will really make a difference. There are things that happen that are simply beyond our control. There are times we made choices we deeply wish we had not made. There are relationships that will never be the same because of words spoken, actions taken. There are wounds that have remained with us over the years and we continue to “bleed” even though we think ignoring them will make the wounds go away.
The woman in Mark 4 tried for years to find the healing she longed for. Nothing made a difference. Her issue had been with her for years.
I have met with leaders from so many churches who describe a loss of life force as members and friends make the choice to leave because of a variety of reasons. This bleeding has left them weak and wondering if there is hope they will survive the crisis at hand. Some churches have made the decision to disconnect from their first priority in missional giving. Others have had to realize that they must let go of a full-time pastor. Still others struggle to survive by cutting back on any type of outreach ministry. The issue of decline has often been present for longer than most want to admit.
Here is the good news that the woman in our story teaches us. When we tend to our relationship with God, we connect with the power of new life and healing. Jesus says to the woman in our scripture story that her faith has healed her. In our imaginations we believe this healing to be instantaneous. Wouldn’t it be nice if it worked that way every time we prayed? The reality is that it took persistence, hard work, and a sense of what is possible. Along the way she did not give up hope.
The vision statement for our Conference says that God calls us to be a Courageous Church: loving like Jesus, acting for justice, united in hope. Sometimes being a courageous church means not giving up, remembering instead that we are the people of God who have hope in all things.
If the wounds you have in your life have been with you for a while, then let me share with you a prayer. This prayer calls us to honest self-reflection during this Lenten season, that we might reconnect with God and find the healing we so desperately seek. So often the first step to healing is confession of the wounds that will not let us go.
Prayer for Healing by Rachel Hackenberg From Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship, ed. by Maren C. Tirabassi and Maria I. Tirabassi
shed light on the corners of our souls
where aches linger
and anger builds like mold
where memories ferment
and self-pity licks its wounds.
brighten the shadows deep within
where lies are hidden
and criticism awaits its prey
where contempt lurks
and distrust rustles underfoot.
shine upon the windows of our hearts,
where love should live
and forgiveness be always ready
where hope is bright
and praise ever lifts our tongues.
New life is possible this Lenten season. Reach out and take it in your hands.