Sacred Encounters Lesson Three

October 16, 2023
Lesson 3 artwork: Touch of Faith by Yongsung Kim
Lesson 3 artwork: Touch of Faith by Yongsung Kim

Lesson Three: A Bleeding Woman Encounters Christ

Scripture: Luke 8:43–48

“Jesus calls us out of the shadows and claims us as his own”

Miriam was bleeding. Her wounds, however, were invisible. They were wounds of heartache, fear, and emotional torment. Miriam is a refugee who fled Iraq to the relative safety of Jordan, where her troubles followed her. Miriam’s husband drank. He hit her. Once, in a rage, he tried to stab her to death. Her husband’s family controlled what she ate. Sometimes, she resorted to stealing bread or tomatoes to survive. When she got pregnant, her thin frame could hardly bear the weight. She did what she could to care for her sons—but she often found herself unleashing her hurt on them. She was like the bleeding woman in Luke’s Gospel who bled internally for twelve years with no promise of healing in sight. Miriam felt so abandoned that she tried to take her own life. “I poured kerosene and was about to switch the lighter,” she says. Her son grabbed her dress and begged her to stop. “I imagined the bleeding woman who touched Jesus,” Miriam shares. “Then I stopped.” Like the bleeding woman, Miriam found healing when she brought her pain to Jesus. She revealed her wounds to him in a Bible-based trauma healing group in Jordan. There, she found strength and declared, “I am not afraid of anything now, because I have Jesus with me.” The program helps refugees and families restore their hope and life and know that evil and trauma are not the end.

Through scripture, people who feel broken and helpless are placed on a path of healing. Once a week, in a small group of 6–8 people, a trained facilitator helps participants talk through their past traumas. They discuss what grief looks like, and they learn that lament is grief with a voice. They are encouraged to write their own laments, and when words cannot capture their heartache, they can draw their grief in a therapeutic art exercise. Many begin to open-up and tell others their story, crying for the first time in months.

The facilitator then reads aloud bible passages about Jesus’s pain. Participants discover Jesus as the Wounded Healer, a savior who intimately understands their suffering. Because Jesus conquered suffering, he invites them into a life of greater resilience. One of the exercises encourages writing down the deepest wounds of their hearts and allowing their grief to flow onto a special sheet of dissolvable paper. They place their grief-filled dissolvable paper in a bucket of water at the foot of Jesus’s cross. They watch the paper dissolve and feel their hurt dissolve. Pain is replaced with a sense of hope that maybe this is not the end, but a new beginning. “When I took part in the trauma healing, I felt that I [could] breathe again,” Miriam said. “I needed someone to listen to me. I needed to tell someone what had happened to me.”

Olive Mahabir
author of the 2023-2024 PW/Horizons Bible Study


This blog is the third in a series of nine blogs written by the study’s author Olive Mahabir. A new blog will be posted every month between now and April 2024.

Presbyterian Women in the PC(USA), Inc. publishes an annual Bible study. Sacred Encounters is the study for this year. You can purchase a Sacred Encounters Bible study book (HZN23100) and study along with us. Call 800/533-4371 or order online.