I’ve been bleeding for four months.
Four months I’ve painstakingly tucked hygiene items in my purse and urgently sent my husband to the store. I’ve seen one practitioner after another and watched needles slide into my veins. I’ve given up caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy and – it seems like – given up a part of my life.
The bleeding triggers a painful autoimmune skin condition, so as I make sure my bathroom is stocked, I must also stock my shelves with special lotions, my fridge with special foods, and my heart with a special kind of strength.
I’m tired of my broken body.
The birth of my daughters triggered this condition. It was so bad with my first, I wasn’t sure I could bear to have another. But we did – and there are now days when I look at my precious blessings with gratitude and tears because I love them so much! But this hurts. My face, my arms, my body – they’re broken and hurting in an unexplainable way, at least for the moment.
Where is God in a Woman’s Pain?
I’ve dealt with these hormonal issues for over three years now, and at first, I treated them as a merely physical issue. I continue to take the physical steps necessary to treat what I have, but as time goes by, I’ve learned physical treatment alone is not enough. The mental and emotional toll of female illness is isolating. It is confusing. It is always frustrating. Everyone will have a new suggestion or answer, and when you’ve tried so many things… it’s easy to despair. We need more than the physical to bear up under illness.
Around Thanksgiving this year my condition worsened and attacked my eyes. I was unable to see clearly for several days, and on the Thanksgiving holiday was miraculously (and I do not say that lightly!) healed enough to participate with my family. But when I look at the family photos taken that day, I see eyes ringed with dark circles, barely open, a reminder for years to come of this battle with an unknown physical enemy. I was supposed to be grateful that day but I struggled to give Him praise. Where are you in my pain? I asked Him. Why haven’t you healed me?
Healing and Peace
It was no coincidence the Lord directed me to Mark 5, the story of the woman with the issue of blood. This woman was bleeding constantly for twelve years. Twelve years! She spent everything she had on doctors and medical solutions, but nothing worked. She became worse. The saddest part? Due to the nature of her condition, she was ritually unclean. She could not live a normal life in Jewish society.
When she pressed through the crowd, seeking Jesus, she wasn’t supposed to be there. If anyone knew about her issue of blood she would have been immediately cast out! But in her desperation, she risked reputation to grasp Jesus’ robe. If I can only touch Him, she thought. I will be healed!
And she was. When Jesus called her out of the crowd she came trembling in fear but knowing ‘in her body’ that she was made well (Mark 5:29).
“Daughter,” He said to her. “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
I’ve re-read that story so many times as I walk through this sickness. I’ve only dealt with my illness a fraction of the time this woman did, yet I understand her desperation. I understand the longing for normalcy. One of the most comforting, beautiful things about the gospels in this season is how I see Jesus healing people like me. People with skin diseases. Women with issues of blood. Not one of them was too far gone, too “gross”, too low for His attention. And in the daily toleration of this disease, I forget how much He cares. But what kind of God is willing to die for His women, only to abandon them when their bodies are ill?
Raised to Peace
As women, I think it’s easy to push aside the spiritual implications of our health struggles; perhaps even thinking an “issue of blood” isn’t worth praying about. But Jesus allowed a ritually unclean woman to touch Him, and He didn’t go to the Temple and cleanse Himself afterward. He didn’t turn from her in disgust. He stepped into her story. He gave her peace.
Will God always heal on this earth? Not always. But His will is our healing, whether here or when we join Him. And sometimes the healing He works on this side of heaven is more of the mental and emotional kind than the physical.
To face the days, weeks, months and years that make up a struggle with health, we need more than just a medical response. God absolutely uses our doctors and resources to bring us healing! But we also need to recognize our desperate need for His spiritual intervention. We need His comfort, His strength, and His presence. We need to know how God views His sick daughters, and not just how He views us – but how He raises us up.
This raising might not be a healing; at least not right now.
But it will be peace.
Phylicia shares more about her autoimmune condition, hormonal wellness, and how she manages her home and family on her Instagram account.
Phylicia Masonheimer is an author, speaker, and founder of Driven Women. She teaches strong-hearted women how to follow Christ’s call in work, home, and the world. She writes about the Bible, productivity, and sexuality on her website, and her book on biblical sex can be found here: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. She lives with her husband and daughters in northern Michigan.