I recently shared a message with the women of our church entitled “Moving Past Pain.” It was one of our most spiritually and emotionally fruitful meetings. While pain impacts us all, it can be a particular stumbling block for women when we do not handle it well. More easily than many men, we acknowledge and express our emotions freely. That freedom works for us if we are releasing negative emotions to God, casting our cares upon him and trusting that, because he cares for us, he will take our burdens up. But when anything inhibits that freedom, we can find ourselves in pain rather that living the fully victorious life we have available in Christ.
I am reminded of Mark’s account of the woman with the issue of blood. As familiar as the passage from Mark 5: 25-34 is, it might be good to take another look at it now. As you do, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text, to help you see beyond the physical pain this woman must have experienced to the emotional pain she brought to Jesus that day. You see, physical pain helps us to recognize when something is out of order in our bodies. If helps us realize when we need to give care and attention to the affected area, or when we need to insure that whatever underlying cause is at its root has adequate opportunity to heal. But emotional pain can be much more difficult to detect. Because we cannot see its source, we often suffer with it longer than we should. This, I believe, is the state in which the woman in Mark’s account approaches Jesus. How did she move past her pain?
1 – She acknowledged her pain. Mark 5:25-26 says that she had suffered many things of many physicians. Sometimes pain can seem the worst when we have trusted others, “experts” even, to heal things and make them right. By the time she reaches out to Jesus, this woman must have not only experienced the physical pain of her condition. She had to have been disappointed and disillusioned by the many failed attempts of others to heal her. Let’s face it—that’s not the kind of pain that can simply be ignored. It must be honestly acknowledged, and then surrendered in faith.
2 – She acted on her faith. Simply put—faith is an action word. As verses 27-28 remind us, it comes by hearing the word, in this case, hearing of Jesus, and then daring to go where he is. Faith requires that we become willing to be healed—and once willing, we are made able. It would have done this woman no good to have heard of Jesus, but then refused to act. No, faith always moves us closer to Christ and once we are close, we can only be transformed.
3 – Expect a transformative experience. Sometimes an encounter with Christ results in an immediate and dramatic healing. In verse 29, Mark says that this woman “felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.” Even when we must wait to see the full effects of what we have believed, believe we must. Far too much is at stake for us to do otherwise. You see, the transformative experience was not simply for this woman—it was for the disciples and, even more so, it was for the ruler of the synagogue. The passage suggests that he had seen the miraculous healing and had come seeking help for his daughter. Like the woman who had just been healed, he might have been ultimately discouraged by the fact that his daughter was dead. He might have listened to his detractors. But inspired to faith and action, he approached Jesus. Whatever “issue” you may have, remember that there is someone whose faith is waiting to be transformed by yours!
4 – Own your healing. You might be tempted to see your emotional healing as short lived. Again, emotions can be tricky in that what we cannot “see” we don’t always understand fully. Consequently, we become accustomed to certain behaviors, to a particular outlook on life, to a way of seeing others that may be tainted by past emotions. In order to fully embrace the healing she had received, this woman, “knowing what had happened to her” (verse 33) could then fall down before Jesus in a position of worship and tell him all her truth—not just the truth of her past, the pain that she had experienced, but the truth of her future, “I had been bound by pain, and now I know that I am free!
5 – Move forward. Of all I love about this scriptural passage, I love most the moment when Jesus says to this woman—go in peace (verse 34). How we exit any difficult situation is so much more important than how we got there in the first place. Notice that Jesus never rehearses this woman’s past. He never questions why she didn’t find him sooner. He simply says to her—move forward. The only way to preserve your emotional healing is do just that, to let the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding completely heal our emotions and keep guard over our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).
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