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The Courage to Act

How one woman’s display of courage can be a lesson to all of us

Woman in despair. Photo by Pixabay

… She came up behind him in the crowd and touched His clothing. For she said, “If I just touch his clothes, I’ll be made well.” (Mark 5:27–28 CSB)

Imagine the scene. Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd, “following and pressing against him.” The woman hears the commotion and follows the crowd, curious to find out what’s going on. Then someone tells her that Jesus is in town. She’s heard about him! He casts out demons and heals the sick. Finally, her chance has come!

Trembling with fear — she should not have been in the crowd, as her illness made her ceremonially unclean according to the tradition of the time — she presses forward, stealthily making her way to the center of the crowd toward Jesus. Finally, she gets close enough to reach out and grab the edge of his cloak, and then falls back, allowing the crowd to separate her from him.

To her horror, Jesus stops and looks around, asking who touched his clothes. A crazy question to ask when you’re in the middle of a crush, but both Jesus and the woman know that something extraordinary has just happened. The woman knew as soon as she touched him that she had been healed, and Jesus “realized in himself that power had gone out from him.”

Seeing that there was no way to avoid being noticed, the woman kneels before Jesus and tells him about her illness and the desperation that has brought her into the crowd to touch him, hoping for a miracle. Now Jesus tells her, simply, “… your faith has saved you … be healed from your affliction.”

The point of this story, for me, is not only about faith healing, although we know Jesus does have absolute power to heal our bodies, if that is his will.

But the story also speaks of the woman’s courage to act. The Scriptures describe her illness as a bleeding disorder. She had been bleeding for twelve years. She had consulted many healers, and spent all her money on medicines and potions but had found no cure. When she heard that Jesus was passing by, she made a choice to seize the opportunity — to take a step of faith, to overcome the fear that would keep her standing still, on the edge of the crowd, hoping for a miracle.

Have you ever been in a situation that feels hopeless? It may have been an illness, a job loss, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. At those times, someone has probably encouraged you to have faith. They may have prayed with you, or offered to pray for you. They may have shared a Scripture that brought you some comfort. All of these actions are valuable, and necessary. But that is not all that is required of us who believe in God.

This story reminds me that faith is not passive. The Scriptures tell us:

“those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not become weary,

they will walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31)

Did you catch that? Our faith calls us to “soar,” “run,” and “walk,” as we navigate our way through life, in the ordinary moments of day-to-day living and when it seems like we’re in an impossible situation.

The woman in that Bible story was weak in her body from loss of blood, and exhausted emotionally from having her hopes for a cure dashed again and again. Yet when she heard the Great Physician had come to town, she took one last desperate leap of faith. She found the courage to act.

As we start a new year, with all its promise that the difficulties of the past year are behind us, is there a situation that feels like its keeping you from soaring? From becoming all that God has called you to be? I encourage you today to find the courage to act anyway. To reach out to Jesus in faith, knowing that those who trust him will find supernatural strength to power their steps.

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Joanne Creary

Joanne Creary

I write about personal growth, faith, human behavior, and anything else that catches my interest.