Stories like this about individuals to whom Jesus brought healing can do wonders for those who are feeling the effects of stigma. Ask a person you’re supporting to put themselves in the place of the person in this story, and they will most likely be able to relate to her. With Jesus there need be no shame. Such comfort this can bring to people who are feeling shame because of how the world feels about them!

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Mark 5:27-29

As Jesus was walking toward the home of Jairus, a synagogue leader, to heal his daughter, a crowd gathered around Him, as it so often did.  In the crowd was a desperate woman who had suffered from vaginal bleeding for twelve years. Medical treatment had cost her all she had but it did not help.

Her condition caused her more than weakness and other health problems. Almost as serious was the shame it brought her. She was considered unclean, which meant that everyone she touched would become unclean as well. Neither was she permitted to enter the temple.

Have you ever felt ashamed? . . . about embarrassing things you’ve done?    . . . about embarrassing illnesses, disorders, or other health conditions you might have?

If you are one of the many who have, you will understand how this woman might have felt. Shame makes a person feel unworthy, disrespected, “dirty.” Hopeless as a person who will ever be accepted by others.

Yet she believed that Jesus could heal her.  . . . If she could only get close enough to him. But how to do so with all those people crowding around him? If she wanted him to heal her she would have to tell him her problem, as Jairus had done. But what shame that would bring her! Everyone would hear and realize that she, an unclean person, had touched so many. Shame upon shame!

And so, seeing that asking Jesus to heal her was not an option, she drew close to him and touched a corner of his cloak, not thinking he would notice. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (verse 29) At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (verse 30)

When the woman identified herself, Jesus asked her to do the unthinkable—to openly tell her story. Trembling in fear at his feet, she poured out her shame in front of everyone.

Jesus must have been very moved by this woman’s faith. He bent over her and said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (verse 34)

He called her “daughter,” a warm expression showing love. What a wonderful thing it would have been for her to hear him say that! To know that all was well. After her twelve years of living with shame, Jesus now shows her acceptance and love.

What does this story mean to you? What can Jesus do for you?

Although we may not experience a physical cure from illness in this lifetime, our faith in Jesus can bring healing in other ways. We don’t need to feel shame before him. He sees who we are on the inside and will bring healing to our heart and soul.

Maybe you will hear him tell you too, as He told the woman in this story: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

With love Jesus accepts us. He calls us His sons and daughters. We don’t need to be ashamed.