Bible Study | December 1, 2015

Claiming a hem-of-the-garment faith

I am intrigued by the Bible story of a woman about whom I know very little. But the little I do know is really all that I need. Read about this woman’s encounter with Jesus in Mark 5:25-34.

As you’ll discover, she was sick, and had been for 12 years. Appointment after appointment with doctors had led nowhere, and her resources had been depleted. I think about this woman and imagine her hope for healing as she went from physician to physician. I imagine the anxiety she must have felt when her funds were gone.

It could be that we, too, have sought comfort from a counselor, from a doctor, or from a friend. It could be that we have resorted to books for help, to pills for peace, or even to busy schedules to forget our pain. In the end, we are hurting and we are unhealthy, still woefully in need of a touch.

Think about the moment that this woman heard about Jesus. What did she think? How did she feel? She was done. Her hope had faded. She had tried again and again, each time with the same result. Not only was her money gone, so was her fight. She had tried very hard, and it was time to accept the inevitable. This was her lot in life and, for better or for worse, she would live with it.

But somehow the spark of faith was ignited in her barren dessert of doubt, despair, and dread. Somehow this woman knew that she needed to get to Jesus.

I love this woman’s big faith. She didn’t ask to hold God’s hand. She didn’t request a heavenly hug. She didn’t require an hour of God’s time. All she needed was to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. That was it. Nothing more.

In our deserts, in our valleys, in our needs, do we have ears to hear the answer and then have the faith to respond? The woman with a problem too big for her to solve and too great for medicine to heal is an example for us to follow. Imagine her whispering into our situations words of hope: “Go to Jesus.”

This woman went—maybe with great effort—into the crowd. She had one goal, and that was to reach out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. And in the moment that she touched it, she was healed.

Jesus knew what had happened, but he gave this woman a chance to testify to the miracle that had just occurred. She spoke from a position of humility at the ground in front of him. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

He called her daughter, a word of possession. He complimented her faith and sent her away in peace. She left healed, grateful, and changed. Maybe someday the rest of her story will be told.

The great news is that the same God still walks and works in our situations, and that he still honors hem-of-the-garment faith.

I am convinced that we make faith much too complicated. We need to be more basic and childlike. Put away the calculations, the pie charts, the graphs, and the reports. It’s time for us to have big faith in a simple way.

Be a person whose life shines with that kind of faith to your family. Be a church that shares simple but strong faith in your community. Be a denomination that exhibits active faith to the world.

Let’s get in line behind this restored woman and claim hem-of-the-garment faith.

Melody Keller lives in Wales, Maine, and is a member of the Lewiston (Maine) Church of the Brethren.