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SOURCES OF SHAME: BODIES WE CAN'T CONTROL

There’s this story about Jesus where He’s on the way to heal the daughter of an important community leader. He’s walking with this huge crowd of people pressing in all around Him. Basically an introvert’s nightmare, but also a pretty typical day for Jesus. But then something odd happens--suddenly Jesus is aware that somebody has touched Him. He says something to the disciples and naturally they are confused--Gah Jesus, you have about fifty people touching you right now (my paraphrase). But He persists, saying power has gone out from Him. 


Then this woman, timid and afraid to approach, comes forward as the one who touched Him. She tells the whole crowd the story of her shame. She has been bleeding for twelve years. She spent all of her money and time on doctors. Nothing has worked, and she is an outcast. But as soon as she touched Jesus, she was healed. Let me just point out here that this woman had no right to touch Jesus. She would’ve been known as an “untouchable.” That is, someone who would mess up the holiness of a respected teacher like Jesus. Yet Jesus is not upset with her for disrupting His cleanliness. Instead He responds to her saying, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!” (The Message).


This story has taken different angles of meaning for me over the past ten years of my life. At first, I was struck by how Jesus honors this woman by paying attention to her. A few years ago, this story struck me from the perspective of the woman. Did I have the faith she has in this moment? What would I want enough to push through a crowd of (likely) smelly men to risk shame and ridicule by touching Jesus? But today it took on a new meaning for me.


Last week I saw pictures of myself from a holiday party--and I hated them. I look at them and all I can see is how fat I’ve become. I cried after looking through them, lamenting that I can’t seem to get any control over my body. I am capable of so much, but maintaining an acceptable size is not something I can do. I feel angry and ashamed. So I was praying about that today, and I felt like God brought this story of the bleeding woman to mind. Didn’t she feel disgusting? Wasn’t she frustrated that she could not control her body? This illness affected her daily life--it dictated what public places she could enter. It kept her from having a social life. It likely prohibited her from the joys of marriage and children. In many ways, I can relate.


So here I am wondering what it looks like for me to take a risk trusting Jesus with my body the way that this woman did. Maybe it starts with believing my body--deeply affected by the realities of sin--is worth loving. Believing that Jesus deems my physical body as something worth fixing up for the resurrection of the saints. It’s perhaps not worthless and shameful, but priceless and God-honoring.

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