Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.
As we read in session two, Jesus came to release the oppressed and proclaim the Good news.
When Jesus speaks to the woman in Mark 5: 25-34 he does not say to her: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Why? No doubt like all of us she sinned, but the over-riding emotional and psychological challenge this lady felt, the thing that was ‘oppressing her most’ was shame.
Shame differs from guilt. This lady had done nothing wrong, her bleeding was not a sin, and yet she would have been made to feel tremendous shame for it. Religious, cultural, economic norms and expectations would have shamed her. It’s easy to imagine the judging and tutting when she confessed her ailment: “She is unclean, now Jesus will be unclean.” “How can he heal Jairus daughter now?” “I’ve never left the house while I was bleeding.”
Shame can make it difficult admit when something is wrong and ask for help. During his work with Hope into Action, a homeless man once confided in Ed that he had been raped as a child. At that point if Ed had said: ‘Well, your sins are forgiven,’ it would have done more harm than good. It was not the man’s fault that he had been raped. He felt tremendous shame for that. Perpetrators of abuse often blame the victim and victims need to overcome the sense that they deserved what happened to them or weren’t strong enough to prevent it. If they then hear from a Christian that they are sinner, that might actually do them more psychological harm.
When reaching out to people who have suffered extreme hardship and difficulties, we must be sensitive and careful not to make them feel more shame or embarrassment, but to affirm their value and help set them free. This is what Jesus does in Mark 5. He publicly praises the woman for her faith, offers her His peace and tells her be freed from her suffering. And he calls her ‘daughter’, affirming her identity and her value as a child of God.
‘Daughter’. Find your identity in that, and help others to do the same. Ignore the words that have been spoken over you. You are a daughter, or son, of the living Christ. Live in the peace which derives from that and be freed from the suffering which comes from thinking less of yourself.