This woman in Mark’s story lived for years with a hemorrhagic illness. She had spent all her money on doctors who were unable to heal her condition—a condition which rendered her unclean and therefore a pariah. When word travels to her about a man named Jesus who could remedy the most hopeless cases, the woman decides to take her healing into her own hands. She blends into the crowd, reaches for his cloak, and receives his curative power.
When I read her story, I think of the many women who have insisted on their own wellness. I remember a friend who sought therapy for her anxiety after years of suffering. I remember a friend with terminal cancer who nurtured her emotional health by joining as many support groups as she could, despite her deeply introverted nature. And I remember tennis great Serena Williams, who recognized the telltale shortness of breath of a life-threatening lung clot and insisted on a CT scan, which her doctors at first denied her.
Sometimes professionals try to downplay or ignore women’s needs or pain. Sometimes women are misunderstood, or their ailments remain a medical mystery. And sometimes they are ignored because their suffering makes others uncomfortable. Yet, these women understand their worth and agency even when others do not. They insist on healing.
Is it surprising that, upon seeing the great Healer, the hemorrhaging woman takes her opportunity? After years of visiting doctors to no avail, she sees a chance to bring about her healing and she grasps it.
This healing comes with no strings attached—no lectures, co-pays, negotiations, referrals, or paperwork. There are no questions of her worthiness or denials of her agency. She reaches out, she touches, and she is made well.
What would it mean to believe so much in our worthiness that we advocate for our own wellness?
God, show us when wellness comes to us and when we must seek it. Amen.