“If only I can touch the hem of his garment.” The woman with the issue of blood believed that if she could touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would be made well even though she had suffered for twelve years.

Saint Augustine said, “Faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”

Today, I'd like to address the subject of fanning the flame of faith.

We see three different kinds of faith in operation in this passage:

   1. Faith that is fading,
   2. Faith that is expectant, and
   3. Faith that is realized.

Let's turn our Bibles to Mark 5:25-34 :

Fading Faith

In the opening lines of the passage, we see a woman's desperate plea to be healed. She had done all she could in getting treatment, but she only grew worse. Here is an example of fading faith.

She had resorted to many painful things, suffered at the hands of many physicians, spent all her money in order to be healed. The gospels of Mark and Luke tell us that she did not get any better but rather grew worse. Can you imagine her situation of impossibility?

Nothing is mentioned about her family situation. If she was married, possibly her husband would have left her since she was bleeding for 12 years. The Bible does not even give her a name. Just a woman with the issue of blood.

She was considered an untouchable and an outcast because of the issue of bleeding.

She had little strength or energy, and was pale. Physically, emotionally, spiritually – she would have been at the end of the rope.

Have you been in this situation? Where your faith was fading?

Then she remembered hearing miraculous reports of Jesus, how he healed and set people free.

Expectant Faith

Now, we move on to faith that is expectant.

“If only..... I could touch the hem of His garment.” The gospel of Matthew suggests that she heard reports of Jesus. How he had healed people and set them free. Hope began to arise and after all, she had nothing to lose. She was in a sense a hopeless case where the doctors could not help her. She thought, this physician whom I hear about can heal, and throngs gather around him. What was different in this physician. She could only venture out and once again expect something that will blow her wildest imagination.

Finally, she did what she had been longing amidst the throng of people. She slipped up her hand and touched the hem of Jesus' garment. The Bible tells us that instantly, the flow of blood ceased. She felt her body normalize in that instant. Now, she must have thought that she could slip away without being noticed. But Jesus perceived power going out from him and inquired, “Who touched me?”

The crowds were thronging. It must have been hot, sweaty, noisy, and tiring. Peter is annoyed with the question seeing that there are crowds of people and yet, Jesus would ask a seemingly ridiculous question. Peter must think that Jesus does ask questions that seem so obvious. Jesus however, had a different reason. In this 3 word sentence “Who touched me?” it gave the woman an opportunity to identify herself and tell Jesus her story. Imagine, in the middle of the crowd, Jesus and the crowds are invited to share the struggles in this woman's life and she has an audience who are listening to her because of Jesus' superb question in drawing out the woman.

What would our lives be if we were expectant in the Lord? Faith is largely dependent on our expectations.

Realized Faith

The third point is faith that is realized. In a nutshell, it is faith that has received its promises.

“Daughter, your faith has made you well”. Be whole.

The word daughter was used as a word of tenderness, which was to inspire confidence and to dissipate her fears.

The Father heart of God in assuring her of His pride and joy over her. It was like saying, I'm proud of you. I love you. You are mine.

“Be whole” - that is, continue to be whole, for she was already cured. Jesus restores her self worth as an individual as well as making a public statement of restoring her back to society where she can be loved and accepted.

Conclusion

In this story of different kinds of faith, I want to give us the opportunity of examining our levels of faith.

The author of Hebrews tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is an action word. It does something. It moves forward. It is responding to a Person.

Indeed, faith is to believe what we do not see and the end reward of this faith is to see what we believe. The woman with the issue of blood touched the heart of the Father when she fanned into flame the faith that was inside her.

Today, are you asking God, “If only I could touch the hem of your garment”. He is here to heal. He is here to touch and make you whole. The same Jesus that we read about in the gospels is right here. Come and respond to Jesus. Only He can touch you. Only He can heal you. Only Jesus can make you whole.

How is your faith? I want to pray for you if your faith is fading. Jesus is here to touch you. Jesus wants to re-infuse you with fresh faith and ignite the faith that is resident within you.

All you need to do is to admit your lack, ask and believe in faith that you will receive fresh faith and rise up to be a daughter/ son of faith.

I want to also pray for those who are expecting something and have grown tired and weary. For those who have realized and expectant faith, stretch your hands towards those who are in need and uphold them in prayer.