Years ago, I was working on a book in Africa. I met up with some doctors who were treating women with obstetric fistulas. A condition caused in countries with limited medical care. Prior to birth, the baby gets stuck in the birth canal, dies, and in so doing tears a hole in either the bladder, the bowel, or both. After delivering a stillborn baby, the women are left with uncontrolled leakage of urine, feces, and blood. With no cure, the women eat and drink less to control the flow. Considered cursed by God, they are thrown out like lepers. Many sleep with the animals to keep warm. Suicide is common. The stench is significant. No, it’s awful. I have walked among them so I am speaking from experience. The only thing worse than the smell is the shame carved into their faces. Few, if any, look you in the eyes. In colloquial language, these women are called “the bleeders.”
For whatever reason, this tormented woman in the street (Luke 8:43-48) was a bleeder.
I wonder how much time passed [after Jesus healed her] before she took off that diaper? How long before she tore down the laundry line, burning every last rag? In my mind, she stands alone in the street and screams at the top of her lungs, “He called me ‘Daughter’!”
When I get to Heaven, I want to find this woman and hug her neck. Her story knocks a few things loose in me, and I want to thank her. I want to thank her for her gumption. For her faith out of which she elbowed her way through a crowd that didn’t want her. For despising her own shame.
For, when all seemed lost, she reached out her hand and cried out to Jesus.
Why, of all the saints in Scripture, do I want to find this one?
This woman believed the Word was more true than her circumstances. Let that sink in.
Thy word is truth. — John 17:17, KJV
We’re all bleeders. You, me, that person over there. All of us. We are draped in shame, bleeding out, and yes, our bodies need healing. But it is our hearts that are broken and we are in need of hearing one singular word. If you think this is an isolated event in the life of a woman that didn’t and doesn’t pertain to you, let me lead you to Matthew:
And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well. — Matthew 14:35-36
The wings of His garment are here. Now. Will you reach out and grab hold?
Some days, I find myself at the end of myself. As Isaiah said, my “filthy rags” are hanging in the backyard and blowing in the wind. I am bleeding and I am broken and I am getting worse. But I’ve heard the stories, and He is passing by. I bathe quickly, wrap on a diaper. Elbow my way through. Cling to His shirttail. Plead to God to have mercy.
And then He calls me forth, saying the thing I need to hear. “Son. Charles. I’ve missed you. I was hoping you’d find Me today. I’m so glad to see you.” It’s around here that Jesus hugs my neck and I weep on His. Smearing snot.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. — 1 John 3:1 NASB
Children. That is what we are!
You and I are not disqualified by a decade of shame and pain. By nonstop blood. By stench and smell and filthy rags. We are not too dirty. We, each of us, and yes — that includes you — are welcomed in. Lifted up. Healed. Forever. From this very hour.
The question is this: While you are a bleeder, are you a believer?
Close your eyes. He chose this street. He’s waited for this moment. He’s walking slower. Taking His time. Chose this route because He knew He’d pass by you. The multitude is with Him, but there’s a break in the crowd. He sees you behind Him. His heart leaps.
Go! Forget the diaper. You don’t need it. Run fast. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks. Throw elbows. Lunge. Reach out.
Cling! Cling. Now, just listen.
Lord Jesus, I am a bleeder. And I am helpless to help me. I am bleeding both from what I’ve done and what’s been done to me. I’ve tried everything and only made matters worse. Nothing I did changed my situation. I’m a mess, and I’m sorry.
Today, I bring my shame and my infirmity to You. All of it. Today I bring the truth of me and lay it bare before You. I don’t want to live in hiding anymore. No more lies about the truth of me. Today I’m exposing all of me before all of You. I believe that You are who You say You are. You tell me that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Will be delivered. You tell me that if I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that You are the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and that You alone paid my penalty and died my death, then I am saved from an eternity without You and welcomed into an eternity with You. Jesus, this is both my confession and my belief, and here and now it is my proclamation.
You are Yahweh-Raphah. My Healer. Today I declare out across the stratosphere that I am Your child! That You are my God! The Son of Righteousness. And that You chose this road, this moment, this page, because You knew I’d pass by here and You have come with healing in Your wings. For me. Here today, I reach through the crowd and hold tightly to Your wings. To You alone I hold, and I am not letting You go.
In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Excerpted with permission from What If It’s True? by Charles Martin, copyright Charles Martin.
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We’re all that woman. The one with the issue that is full of shame. The one with the wound, though inflicted by someone else or even by ourselves, that will never ever heal with time. We are desperate for God. For His healing. And we can have it because we are His children! Let’s grab on to Him today! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full