Her Abysmal Loneliness

She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

Mark 5:27-29

Loneliness is a dull, depressing feeling. We may feel a strong sense of emptiness, solitude, and isolation. The woman with a hemorrhage was an exceeding lonely lady. Her condition lasted twelve years, twelve years of uncleanness, twelve years of isolation, twelve years of being ostracized, and twelve years of despair. She turned to Jesus, he took her uncleanness, and gave her life. “And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease'” (Mark 5:34 ESV).

A moment ago, I spoke of the time-bound idea that a woman with a flow of blood was considered unclean and that she was therefore shunned. Even the slightest contact would transfer this uncleanness to objects and other people. To that extent she was the bearer of a contagion and people had to be on their guard against her. Therein lay her abysmal loneliness–a loneliness which categories are scarcely adequate to measure.

Only when we are clear about that will will we be able to grasp the frightful and dismay-producing truth that she must confess: By her touch she made Jesus of Nazareth unclean; she had infected him. More than that, from her magic-oriented point of view, it appeared that when the miracle occurred she was suddenly freed from the burden of her uncleanness but that burden was transferred to him. He had been taken it over from her.

Helmut Thielicke, How to Believe Again (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970), 61.

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