Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Faith

76 Comments | Posted on 01/16/13 | Categories: Bible Study: Embrace Grace, Blog

Embrace Grace Bible Study | Liz Curtis Higgs

What if you had God’s mobile number on your phone? His email address? His Twitter account? What if you could text him anytime you wanted to?

Last week one of our sisters commented about how cell phones added to our daily stress level. Becky F. wrote, “It seems every moment, every thought, every action must be shared with someone 20 times a day. If only we would share these same moments with our Savior!”

A light bulb went off. What if we did reach out to the Lord first? What if each time we had the urge to text, tweet, email, log onto Facebook, or phone a friend to share some heartfelt need, we stopped and prayed instead? Really prayed, trusting God to answer?

That’s faith: asking and believing in the same breath, then waiting and trusting in the next.

(I’m picturing that goofy scene in Bruce Almighty, where Jim Carrey sets up an email account to manage the millions of prayer requests God surely handles by the hour. Overwhelmed, the Bruce Nolan character simply answers “YES” to all of them at once. Definitely not what God does.)

In the real world, God responds to us individually. He not only listens to us, he loves us. He not only loves us, he knows what is best for us.

Hmm. I sense a bit of doubt creeping back in. Some of us recall a parent shouting, “I know what’s best for you!” We weren’t convinced then, and aren’t too sure now.

So, how can we be certain God knows what’s best for us? And how do we trust him if the life we’re living now doesn’t fit anybody’s definition of good, let alone best?

Let me tell you a story.

Come with me to the first century, to Capernaum, a fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee—a lake, actually, and a beautiful one, surrounded by low hills.

Sea of Galilee

This is the town Jesus called home as an adult: “Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake” (Matthew 4:13). A place of miracles and healings. A sacred place.

I visited there once. Took shelter from the rain beneath a grove of olive trees. Wept at the nearness of Jesus. Taught the stories of biblical women while standing amid the synagogue ruins. Two thousand years ago we would have found Jesus there, “teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum” (John 6:59).

If you love maps and chronologies, or simply long to know when and where such stories in the Gospels take place, check out this incredible timeline that walks you through the life of Christ, year by year, miracle by miracle.

Capernaum Antiquities

In Capernaum we’ll meet someone who doesn’t just talk about her faith—she walks out her faith, and in doing so captures what it means to “Embrace Faith.”

A woman was there… Mark 5:25

A woman. No name. No age. Could be any of us.

Jesus has just arrived on the lake shore, where a large crowd gathers around him, pressing him from every side. When you’re a miracle worker, everyone wants a piece of you.

Our woman is “among them” (CJB), “in the crowd” (CEV), hoping no one recognizes her. She’s come a long way to see this man. Thirty miles, some scholars say—a great distance for a woman who is not only unclean but unwell.

…who had been subject to bleeding… Mark 5:25

I gasped the first time I read this story as a new believer. Are we talking about that kind of bleeding? In the Bible? Yes. Call it what you will—“a flow of blood” (AMP), “a hemorrhage” (CJB), “the bloody flux” (WYC)—this is every woman’s nightmare. An endless period. Not just one week a month, but every week of every month, she “suffered…with constant bleeding” (NLT).

…for twelve years. Mark 5:25

Twelve. Years.

Add a dozen years to your current age. Imagine bleeding nonstop from now until then. No, no, no.

This unnamed woman has earned our sympathy in a matter of words. The pain, the shame, the hygiene issues, the anemia, the exhaustion.

Desperate for relief, she did what we all would likely do. She sought earthly help first.

She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors… Mark 5:26

Are we reading this right? The doctors increased her suffering? Sadly, that’s what every English translation tells us. She “endured many things under many physicians” (LEB), who “treated her, and treated her badly” (MSG).

Not only is her body bleeding; her bank account has been bled dry as well.

…and had spent all she had,… Mark 5:26

Bless her, she “spent everything” (CEB), “her life savings” (CJB), “all the money she had” (NIRV). So, she is not only living with pain, she is also living in poverty.

And if all that isn’t heartbreaking enough…

…yet instead of getting better she grew worse. Mark 5:26

I can’t bear it, can you? Her health is shattered, her money is gone, and she’s worse now than she was before. But she has not lost her grip on hope.

This is what makes her story so remarkable. She doesn’t give up on God. She doesn’t, at least in the biblical record, question God. She doesn’t abandon her faith, even though her world appears to be falling apart. She still believes.

Faith is all she has left. And faith is all she will need.

Many of us struggle daily—with health concerns, money woes, loneliness, family drama, mounting fears—wondering why God hasn’t delivered us from our misery. If he can end it, why doesn’t he do so right now?

Anyone who thinks they have an answer to this question is making stuff up. We cannot speak for God. We cannot explain why he acts or does not act. What we can do is trust him, put our hope in him, and seek his face.

Here’s what that looks like.

When she heard about Jesus,… Mark 5:27

You know he was the talk of the Galilee. All those healings? All those miracles? Our girl “heard the reports” (AMP). She kept her ear to the ground. She kept her heart open to the possibility. And when the news reached her corner of the world, she made tracks for Jesus Town.

Capernaum: The Town of Jesus

…she came up behind him in the crowd… Mark 5:27

This is very descriptive. She didn’t just walk up to him. She came from behind, where she could see him, but he couldn’t see her. Why? Because she’s a bleeding woman. She really shouldn’t be out in public, where someone might brush against her.

The rules for women during their monthlies were very strict: “anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening” (Leviticus 15:19).

The one thing no one wants to do is touch her, or have her touch them.

That’s why she approaches him from behind “under cover of the crowd” (MSG). She’s hoping she can snag a miracle, then make a run for it, with no one the wiser—least of all him.

This woman who isn’t supposed to touch anyone is about to break the Law.

…and touched his cloak, Mark 5:27

Whether you call it his “garment” (ASV), his “clothes” (CEB), or his “robe” (NLT), it’s his outer clothing, the first thing her fingers could reach.

And she must be bending down, nearly crawling on all fours, because the way Matthew 9:20 tells it, she touches the “hem” (KJV), the “fringe” (NASB), the “bottom of his coat” (NLV). Perhaps she feels unworthy of touching his sleeve or his shoulder. Or perhaps she just doesn’t want to be discovered.

Here’s what matters most: she has the faith to reach out in the first place. She believes the Lord has the power to heal her.

because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Mark 5:28

She thought. She believed. She trusted. And because of that she reached. She put her faith in motion.

Truth is, she did so miles ago when she left the safety of her home and started out for Capernaum. It was a walk of faith on the outside, yet a leap of faith on the inside.

Too often we base our faith on how we feel. A better measure is how we act, what we do. This is what James 2:17 is trying to get across: “If it is just faith and nothing more—if it doesn’t do anything—it is dead.”

She knew exactly the outcome she wanted and she believed with all her heart it was possible. This thought of hers must have rolled over and over in her mind: “I shall be made whole” (ASV), “I shall be restored to health” (AMP), “I’ll be made well!”” (HCSB)

It is right and good to pray for faith. Then it’s time to move. Stretch out our hands. That’s when miracles happen.

Immediately her bleeding stopped… Mark 5:29

She didn’t just feel better; “her flow of blood was dried up at the source” (AMP). Hallelujah!

…and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:29

Even more than a physical kind of “feeling,” this was a spiritual awareness. “She knew she was well” (CEV). Imagine it! All the burdens she brought with her are gone in an instant. No more pain, no more shame, and no more blood.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. Mark 5:30

Uh-oh. She’s not the only one who noticed this seismic change. Jesus sensed it too. This miracle took place in the spiritual realm—her faith, his power—yet both of them felt it in the physical realm. Blood stopped. Energy flowed. Zap.

Power Source

He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” Mark 5:30

Right about now our girl’s stomach must be tied in a knot. He knows. Even though he’s asking a question, she can see he already has the answer. He turned around, didn’t he? He’s looking for her. He knows.

Alas, the duh-sciples do not know. They usually don’t. A miracle occurs right in front of them, and they miss it. We do the same, all day long, usually because we’re looking in the wrong direction. Or thinking too much about ourselves.

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” Mark 5:31

Bless them. They are clueless here. You can almost hear a faint note of scolding in their words, or at the very least, incredulity. “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (NCV)

Jesus doesn’t let their lack of faith slow him down. He’s too busy eyeballing the crowd.

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Mark 5:32

She could have avoided his gaze, crawled away, kept her healing to herself. But those are cowardly acts, and faith always requires a measure of courage.

She walked many miles. She stretched out her hand. This is her third act of faith: she throws herself at his feet.

Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet… Mark 5:33

This is so brave. After all, she’s just stolen a miracle. Jesus might take it back, if such a thing could be done. She might start bleeding again. The crowd might stone her for breaking the Law. Who knew how this might end?

No wonder she’s frightened. And yet, she speaks to him—another act of faith.

…and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. Mark 5:33

We can see her shaking all over as she confesses “the whole story” (ERV) to Jesus. What exactly does she tell him? Leave it to Dr. Luke to fill in the blanks for us: “In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed” (Luke 8:47).

Ah. Her faith is so strong, she holds back nothing. I believed. I touched. I was healed.

He  said to her, “Daughter,…” Mark 5:34

Hit the pause button. This is too big not to mention. It’s the only time Jesus addresses a woman as “Daughter,” and it’s this woman. This ostracized, unclean, don’t-get-anywhere-near-her woman. He’s telling everyone in the crowd, “She’s family. She’s one of us. She’s mine.”

And then he tells her something amazing.

…“your faith has healed you.” Mark 5:34

We know the power went out from him. So, didn’t he heal her? Yes, but…she had to reach out, believing it would happen.

For years I struggled with the fact that she touched his garment, breaking the Law of Moses to do so. And then one day it hit me: if her faith was part of the miracle, then when she stretched out her hand, she was already healed.

The threads of that garment had nothing to do with her being made well. The power of Jesus passed right through that fabric and met her where she was, crouched down behind him in the crowd.

When he tells her, “you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole” (MSG), that’s not just for her sake. All the people pressing against him need to hear it too. It’s as if he is saying, This is how it works, people. This is what faith looks like.

His last word to her is a sweet benediction.

“Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

Shalom. Peace. It’s a freedom like no other.

I was in the midst of working on this week’s study when an email appeared that could only have been prompted by the Holy Spirit. Ruth Ann, a seven-year breast cancer survivor, wrote, “I am thankful for each day I have. I was scared to death at first, but God gave me peace.”

Isn’t that what we all long for? Not the absence of troubles, but peace in the midst of them.

Ruth Ann shared the whole truth, just like our woman in Capernaum: “I realized that God was in control, not me. God was and is with me.”

There it is. The big aha. The two things you need to know in life:

God is in control. God is with you.

Peace.

Now, it’s your turn:

I’ve held your many comments close to my heart all week, wishing I had the right words of comfort or counsel. Then I realized that it isn’t words you need: it’s Jesus, the living Word.

And so I pray that he makes himself known to you this week, and that you will hear his voice and sense his presence and know you are loved, whatever you’ve done or not done, and wherever you find yourself at the moment.

I do hope you’re reading Embrace Grace, since the material here on my blog is, by intent, completely different (who wants to read the same thing twice?). Also, I long for you to get all the encouragement you need, and all the grace God has prepared for you.

I’ll share my own brief answers to this week’s questions. Then might you choose one and offer a response? Sometimes by putting our thoughts on screen, we discover what our next step should be. I’ll be praying for each of you by name as I read your comments.

  • What does “faith in God” mean to you?
    Trusting him with my past, present, and future. Believing his Word is true. Knowing his love is boundless. Embracing the gift of his grace. Not demanding evidence of his existence, because I already see his handiwork everywhere I turn.
  • If you imagined Jesus looking at you, what might you see in his eyes?
    Love, because I’m his. Sorrow, because he bore all my sins. Compassion, because, despite my huge flaws, he knows how much I long to please him. Mercy, because he understands how desperately I need his forgiveness and his strength.
  • Since we cannot physically look upon the Lord’s face, then where do we turn to “see” him?
    His Word, first and foremost. Music that glorifies him. Messages filled with his truth. The beauty of his creation. The kindness of his people. The innocent faces of children. The love of family and close friends.

Praying for you this day, beloved.

Your sister, Liz

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    76 thoughts on “Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Faith

    1. oh, Liz, thank you for this blog. I love this nameless gal. (south pacific character Bloody Mary comes to mind,lol) i often wonder how her life changed when she went home. as a wife,mother,grandmother, i am reminded that my circle is impacted by my actions. I am convicted to be more open with each of them (not just the easy ones) about my love for Jesus and His faithfulness to me. I want to see Jesus is my cry;I want to tell of His love. (that might be a song,don’t know,lol)

      • What a beautiful thought Lynne! Now I wonder how her life changed too when she went home! It also then makes me wonder, how would my life changed if I really embraced faith like this woman did? WOWZA! ^_^ And yes, to be more open about our love for Jesus with those around us, what would our world look like? Just wanted to let you know your comment inspires me as well.

    2. I have been trying my hardest to trust God with all my heart that He is control of my devastating circumstances. I still am! But I have been failing so bad.. But then I just hope when I’m at my weakest God is at His strongest! He is a good God and I’m so grateful for Him!

      • Oh dear friend, God is always at His strongest! He is faithful and He always keeps His promises! I pray this week that even in your struggles and your difficult trials it sounds like you are facing, you are able to find comfort and peace and healing in our Lord, and that by these difficulties your Faith will grow ever more. *hugs*

    3. Faith in God means: Remembering what He’s done in the past and knowing He will take care of whatever is in the future!
      Thanks Liz for always sharing your heart with us.

    4. Wow, I have to say I’ve never heard the story of the Woman in Mark shared with this much detail. WOW. I’ve never looked at just how much FAITH she had by her very act, or put it together that she broke the Law by reaching out to touch Jesus. In a way, she gave her ALL. She risked it ALL, possibly, her very LIFE by reaching out in faith to Jesus.
      I feel the Lord placing this “lesson” intentionally before me. In my Women’s study at church, we are studying Martha and Mary, and how Mary in a way also possibly “gave it all” when she broke the alabaster jar of perfume to wash Jesus’s feet.
      Women who gave it all, who had such PROFOUND faith. An inspiration of the Woman I want to become before the Lord.
      Faith in God to me – Trust. Complete, undiluted, without conditions TRUST. Trust for His sovereignty in my life, in all of my life. I want to embrace that kind of Faith with Him, that kind of Trust.
      Jesus looking at me – I would want to see Love, Forgiveness, and Comfort. I imagine looking in His eyes and just KNOWING that He KNOWS everything. All the fear, pain, worry, and all the joy, thankfulness, hope. I almost imagine as I look into His eyes and see that He knows all the difficult parts, I’d also see His peace that He offers, and His hope, and His love, that it would wash over me with His power.
      Where to Turn to “See” Him – To His word. The more I pick up my Bible and read it in the quiet, the more I feel I get to know Him. The more I know Him, the more I Trust Him. The more I pray to Him, the closer I feel to Him, the more I lean on Him. I’ve also found that I can see Him in my world around me. The awe in watching my son turn from boy to man-child. The awe in watching the seasons change, grass grow, flowers bloom. Sun rises and Sun sets. In the hug and love from my husband. In the fellowship with my friends. I want to reflect Him to the world, better, every day. I want the kind of Faith that others will see, so that they will want to know Him more than they want to know me.
      I Want to EMBRACE FAITH.
      Thank you Liz for offering this study online, for taking the time to contribute a thoughtful blog to go along with the reading of the book itself, yet offer more material, different material. I want to try and take the challenge this week to pray MORE instead of turning to the phone or the Facebook machine. My prayer for you is that you also have a wonderful week where you are able to Embrace Faith fully and feel God’s love wash over you!
      Shalom :)

    5. The faith of this nameless woman humbles me. I know what it means to be without hope, and I know what it means to find that faith that heals when nothing in this world will. Imagining Jesus looking at me…. I know His eyes would be filled with compassion, love and longing. Longing for me to abide IN Him. Since that day when Jesus literally lifted me from the floor, I am a new woman( just as this woman was). Praise Him for His unending mercy and grace.

    6. 1. Trust, my trust in Jesus grew, it was not instant, now, many years since my first incounter with Jesus, I TOTALY trust him. That does not mean I understand all His ways it just means I know he knows what is best for me.
      2. Love, While I was yet a sinner Christ died for me! Now that I have given my life to him guess what , he still loves me even when i mess up.
      3. Defently his word and the saving grace testimonies of other christians

      Several monts after becoming a christian I told the pastor that I wasn’t coming to church anymore because I just couldn’t stop with the very foul words that I had heard and used everyday. He told me to ask Jesus to forgive me every time I used them, my reply was, “that would be every minute of everyday”. He said thats ok if you truly are sorry for using his name in vane. So I asked Jesus to forgive me continuosly. It took a year before I never used a foul word again. Man looks at the outward apperance, God looks at the heart. I mess up more times then I care to admit, BUT, Jesus knows my heart, and he says your forgiven. His word tells me that it’s going to be a bumpy road between here and glory but not
      to worry because he is in the drivers seat. Praise his wonderful name,

    7. Jesus looking at me: Well….He would see his beloved. I am a former “bad girl” (scarlet letter bad) and He has shown me His continuous grace. I always say that our daughter is His grace in person form. I believe He sees me with love, joy and sadness for the days I don’t hold myself well. I am constantly learning. I shared this study with my hubby and daughters this morning and our 10 year old looked it up to read herself. My mommy heart is full.

      • Oh Erin, thank you for sharing this. It has been pressed upon me that holding my heart in faith just does not mean my heart alone. SHARING his grace. You shared with your family and this convicted me. I realized that even though I may have hope and belief myself, I should share that love and grace. Thank you sister for your post. It was a sweet reminder that I should SHOUT IT from the roof tops that God has something for all.

    8. “Faith in God” means I let go of the pain, the heartache, fear and worry of my current situations, struggles and life. It means I thank God for my blessings that are sometimes hard to see in the midst of the struggles. It means I choose to accept his peace and grace and smile in spite of my circumstances. It truly means to “let go and let God”. Praying I am able to do all this….

      • Sweet Denise, I too have troubles letting go, so I was touched with your post. Thank you for sharing this. For me sometimes “faith” takes practice. I will pray for you too.

      • You worded this so beautifully. I pray you are able to ‘let go and let God’ as well. I too am trying to do this! I pray God comes through for you in your circumstances!!

    9. What if you had God’s mobile number on your phone? His email address? His Twitter account? What if you could text him anytime you wanted to?

      Last week one of our sisters commented about how cell phones added to our daily stress level. Becky F. wrote, “It seems every moment, every thought, every action must be shared with someone 20 times a day. If only we would share these same moments with our Savior!”

      THESE words were convicting to me!! SO TRUE!! SO PRECIOUS!! Thank you for this post today!! You were God’s messenger in my life today!

      • Kim, Amen. Those words spoke to me as well. I see my family, including younger children whose face is always in their phone or IPad when your trying to have a conversation. How wonderful and truly amazing our lives would be if our eyes were always looking in the face of Jesus and His words of promise. I would love to have Jesus’ numbers, I would definitely be using them more. I love to read but also love to write so journaling for me is a way to “see” Jesus as I write about his love and promises for me. Trusting the Lord so I will believe that I will see love and compassion when I look into His eyes.

    10. Just wanted to say, Liz, thank you for doing these studies. I’ve read lots of your books and even though through most of them I still doubted whether God loved and/or forgave me, I still read them, secretly hoping that he does and has. Now I’m signed up to your newsletter and when I get them, the more I read, the more I’m starting to feel like I’m belonging, I love the way you address the newsletter personally to me (and everyone else!) and end it like that too! Even though I live hundreds of miles away from you and your blogs, I’m grateful that I feel like I belong! It’s like sitting down on a sunny afternoon with a beautiful patchwork quilt draped around me, that’s how I can describe it!
      Faith in God to me means that I know that He is STRONG, He is BIG and He is in control (although I need to work on believing that truth completely), He knows what He is doing even when I don’t! My little sons have a Hillsongs CD and one of the songs I absolutely love, it’s called ‘Super Strong God’ … really great and I believe that and sing my heart out because I believe it.
      I liked what some of the girls have said on here about seeing Jesus in our children and husband – well, I can defo see Him in my beautiful sweet little boys, 15 weeks and 20 months old and I am blessed to have a lovely husband who does not judge me and seems to mostly have sound advice when I go on about this that and the other!!!
      This has been fun, thank you xxx

    11. Faith in God to me means that believing that in everything God walks with me, hand in hand, in every day and experiences everything that I do, be it bad or good. I lost my faith every day and must remember that He is with me. We currently live in North Carolina, but we were getting further and further into debt. So with knowledge of good wages to be made in Eastern Montana, my husband and I prayed and felt that we have been led to move our family west for a better life and to start a church or something of that nature. My husband left in September to work, while I and our four children have remained in North Carolina so our oldest can graduate from high school here. This has been the hardest year ever, I think. I know in my heart that God is leading us there, but there are so many pits along the way to trip us up. I struggle every day not to just lay down and cry and say, okay, we are just staying here because it is easy. When I have really bad days, God makes things happen to let me know that he is still here with me which strengthens my faith. We will move in June. We don’t have a place to live but I know that God will provide.

      • Dear Heather, what a testimony of faith! We so often, in these times of
        fiscal unknown. You are truly (as they say) putting the rubber to the road. In reading your post it came to mind that sometimes trusting can be a struggle because we, by nature, want to know what tomorrow brings. It scares the stuffing out of me. But, I read about your story and realize it is a witness to faith, hope, wisdom. Thank you for sharing

      • Praying for you RIGHT NOW, Heather. You are indeed taking a big leap of faith. Rest assured that God has gone ahead of you. The path is already cleared. You sisters are cheering you on. Please, Lord, hear our prayers!

    12. Thank you for this post! This morning I Just finished the book Really Bad Girls of the Bible. Not ten minutes ago I finished the chapter on this same women and here I am reading the depiction about her again. I don’t mind reading it twice! I think The Lord wanted me to in order to engrave it into my brain some more. Today I am going to make it a point to instead of running to Facebook and twitter, I will pray. I will pray to God about the status of my day and ask for his guidance. Or perhaps simply just to have someone to talk to because currently, the only adult I have to confide in is Jesus himself. Thank you all who have replied to this blog post. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts! God bless.

    13. Pingback: Amazingly Enough – I Am Grateful « Her Steps, Her Journey, His Grace

    14. Thinking about these questions, two Amy Grant songs came to mind. When others look at us, it is evident “She has her Father’s eyes.” And the comfort to know that “In a little while we’ll be with the Father – can’t you see Him smile! In a little while we’ll be home forever – in a while.”
      Resting in the comfort and assurance that God is in control. So glad He is!

    15. I think I would see tenderness, love, compassion, forgiveness, restoration, acceptance, etc if I could look directly into my Savior’s face. I need to think about this daily. it would change my perspective on my daily life and on other people too. Christ loves each of us deeply and was willing to do the Father’s will of dying on the cross for our sins.

    16. Liz. I love you. Just absolutely love you. I brought 35 gals to the Women of Faith Conference in Kansas City and we all came away with you as our favorite and that is saying a great deal as every single speaker was a ten! That must make you a 15 :). Thank you for your investment as an encourager…an honest encourager. We are doing your “The Girls Still Got It” study in two months as we are doing 1000 Gifts right now. I just read your “A Wreath of Snow” stayed up til 2 AM couldn’t put it down, read it all in one night. You are a gift to us women of today – all of us – no matter who we are, where we’ve come from…you are the real deal – our gift that keeps on giving. Thank you – I love you. – Rosemarie

    17. Liz ~ Thank-you for allowing the Lord to use you in such a special ~ wonderful ~ personal way. I saw & heard you this past summer @ Baptist Bible College ~ and ~ as i read this blog and your book I can actually hear your voice and ‘see’ the expessions on your face. You ‘feel’ like a friend when i read your blog ~ thank-you.You were mightly used by God there ~ let me tell you !!!! TADA!!! :)

      This miracle has really touched my heart — and — I do know Jesus would look at me with more love and compassion than I’ve ever experienced before. I have a very kind and compassionate husband — VERY fortunate I know — but Jesus’ look would be beyond measure!! <3 I love how you said faith doesn't depend on how we feel. I know that and yet don't. My circumstance has been difficult of late and my emotions have plummeted – but – lately even with those feelings I have actually been able to pray with some measure of faith AND experience some answers. I also have a TON of questions that for now go unanswered ~ that can be difficult when I'm trying to believe ~ but God knows. Again ~ I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of this study. I commented on the first week because a woman expressed something that rang soooo true in my heart is was like the Lord saying to me – '…this is for you also…' Love it ~ love you. Blessings!!

    18. As often as I’ve read this woman’s story, today I cried. For her poverty of companionship, money, her desperate life and then for her joy…what courage!
      How do we see Jesus? I went to the neurosurgeon and am scheduled for a 3rd back surgery in 11 months, this one to be more extensive. I jokingly told him that if one more person told me how good I look I just might slap them. You know, a Gibbs smack. He replied, “Slap me then, because you look good.”
      When I declined, he told me that it is my countenance. He said that even with significant pain and frustration, my countenance is peaceful and kind. Now I know what I think at times and want to do, so I KNOW it’s not me. What he see’s is Jesus. His presence in my life overwhelms my natural desires. That is most often how we see Him, in the faces, good deeds, sacrifice and worship of Believer’s. A kind word, a gentle touch, an offer for prayer, giving from the little you may have to someone who has even less. I see my Savior every day.
      God bless you sisters as you face your struggles. Liz is absolutely right, all each of us needs is our Savior. Thanks Liz!

    19. Just came to mind, I think He would tussle my hair, put His arm around my shoulder and say,”Hi Sis! Welcome Home, let me show you around.” I think I’d drop to my knees and weep.

      • love your words Miss Cathy, you are a delight to read. I used to have a sweet countenance and was complimented on it, I need to let Jesus give that back to me.

        Brandi

    20. Thank You Liz for this wonderful lesson in faith, love and compassion that God shows us. To me faith is knowing that God is there, or rather,here within my heart. Knowing that I can talk to Him anytime and at anyplace and He will listen to me. I know at times I may not get the answers that I want, when I want but then I need to remember that God has a plan which just might not be my plan! So I trust that His plan will be fulfilled. Many times in the trials of this life I look for ways to solve my problems,but I am learning (and it is sometimes a long process for me), learning to pray for God’s plan to be fulfilled in whatever way He wants. I am so grateful for His love, that He is so merciful to give for us who can never be worthy of that love. Faith in the grace of God! I see His love in the miracle of this creation he made, the eyes of a special friend, a loved one, the miracle of a newborn baby, His word, and I feels His love most when I am serving Him. I just started this study this week while I am recovering from surgery and spending much time reading,on my computer and praying. ( and yes sometimes feeling sorry for myself ) Imagine that! This is a blessing to me and a reminder to me that I am not alone,that my Lord loves me and he sent you to me, Liz, at the right time! Prayers to you and everyone else writing here or just reading these words.

    21. “Then I realized that it isn’t words you need: it’s Jesus, the living Word.”
      Your words spoke to me. I’ve been sensing the Lord telling me to listen more and speak less. As one who talks much and is prone ‘fixing’ everyone and everything, I’ve had to learn to shut up. Our gal was healed before Jesus spoke a word to her. He let her struggle through her own anecdotes. He did not go to her to fix her problem, He waited for her to come to Him. Sometimes, the best I can do for someone is to be quiet and wait.
      Thanks for sharing your heart.

    22. The words to the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” started playing in my mind as I read the book and this blog…”Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim….in the light of His glory and grace.” I love the suggestion in the book Embrace Grace, that “Faith is not something to fall back on; faith is something you step into.” There is a deliberate forward motion that must be made to “step into” faith. Like the woman in our story made that forward motion toward the hem of the garment that Jesus was wearing. Bringing our faith out only when we are troubled, falls so short of the mark. Thank you gals for helping me to see this Biblical truth!

    23. Dear Liz
      I met you at the Sisters retreat at Hershey Pa along with my daughter in law whose name is also Lisa. You signed our Embrace Grace books. I remember you telling.us this story and gave us such peace. I have been asked to lead a grief group at my house and have been battling.with it. You just showed me my answer. I have been angry with God for taking my beloved husband home with him after only two years of marriage. This has showed me I have to have faith. So thank you for being so faithful and teaching me that faith.

    24. I’m not sure this applies. I’ve wanted to go to Israel for a very long time and never had the time or the money. Now an opportunity has arrived that makes it possible. But, the application process is HARD. A lot of pre-planning and then I have to pay for the air-fair. Liz, I’ve never been one to try real hard at anything. So just starting this journey is as hard a thing as the trip to Jesus for this woman, let alone reaching out to touch Him. Another thing; what if they reject me. What if I don’t have the skills necessary to do the work. I’m not as young as I once was. I keep thinking that if God really wants me to do this, He’ll make it easier. Is that true? I guess I needed to tell someone. Thanks for listening.
      Chari

      • I cannot promise that God will make the process easier. But I think I can say with authority that he will make it WORTH it. Nothing of value in my ministry has come easily. Even knowing the Lord is in it, even seeing solid evidence of his calling, I’ve had to pour time and energy and resources into things, praying they would bear fruit someday, but not knowing how, when, or even if that might happen. God is SO FAITHFUL, Chari. You really can trust him.

    25. Having faith in God — today that is all I have. A very good friend met Jesus quite unexpectedly this morning. We were planning a birthday celebration for her for this Saturday. Instead it will be her memorial. I hold unswervingly to the hope. I’ll miss you, Paula.

      • Betsy,
        I am so sorry for your loss and know it has to be so painful for you! I pray you will be comforted by Jesus’ love today!

      • Betsy, I feel your sorrow. But, I also see your faith…you hold on to hope. So Paula celebrates her life now with Jesus. Oh, the party they will have! I think shock is a good word that comes to mind when I read your post. This time of letting go, grief…these are things that God gave us to mend our hearts. I will pray that she be lifted up on eagles wings and that your sweet and hoping heart keep you.

    26. Liz as I read this study I actually had chills when I read where she touched the hem of his garment and he said Who touched me? Oh if we could do this in our life and believe as she did -we could be set free too—of anything that we are allowing us to doubt that he does hear our cries and have the faith to believe fully in him.Even tho I have read this many times you have a way Liz of explaining it to make it more personal to us —-THANK YOU Liz!!!

    27. beentheredonethatgotthetshirt–but I have NOT given God the credit He so richly deserves. I bled for yrs–hysterectomy took care of it. Horrid excema for yrs. Great Physician healed miraculously, but I fear telling folks cuz they’d think it weird.Heck, “I” think it’s weird! Had ulcerative colitis for 9 1/2 yrs. Two ileostomies took care of that. NO NO NO! God has healed me every time. Thanks for the reminder, and the courage to open up and share… My faith has prevailed and I feel like I’ve hidden it. Until now. Thanks, Liz…

      • Hello Ladys,
        I have been reading all your statements and I have many thoughts about the things that brought you to this blog and amazed at all the things we have in common. I have been the bad girl, had my brother taken from me, and I see myself in many of your writtings. It makes me feel blessed to know that I am not the only one that has had a bad life here on earth. Sometimes I feel that I couldn’t be worth much after 3 bad marriges, “but he loves me anyway.”
        I was so. surprised to hear someone tell a story about bleeding. I bled also for 3 years before I could aford a doctor and through all the struggles in my life I have felt the Lord pull me up by my boot strings and
        send me off again on a new adventure. Through the years when I look back and see that every time I didn’t think I would make it another day, Jesus held me and loved me enough to send me off again.
        I never thought I would see any grandchildren and now I have 2 great
        grandchildren and another on the way!!!

        Thank You My Lord and Savior

    28. Liz, thank you for going in depth about this woman! I too was unaware of her breaking the law by touching him…hadn’t even thought of that. She had a lot of courage and more faith than I realized.

      As far as what faith means to me, it’s taking God at His word, believing that He WILL turn mourning into dancing, it may be tomorrow, next week, or next year, but He will be true to His word. It also means that I have to live and THINK and TALK like I believe this…no dwelling on the negative or telling friends all the negative things going on as if there is no hope. I am banking on Ps. 40 currently for a family situation…that He will take my sweet daughter out of the miry clay, set her feet on firm ground, and put a new song of praise to God in her mouth!

    29. “faith in God” reminds me of the door of hope in the valley of Achor. I have just finished leading a Bible study in Hosea where we talked about this. To me Faith means believing that there is a door, and to me that door is Jesus, and so I will believe in Him and walk through the door where he leads me.

    30. I just found your site while on Ann Voskamp’s. What a blessing it has been already! My current experience with faith is this: Believing what God says in His Word and through the voice of His creation EVEN when my human interface with the circumstances of life would try to tell me otherwise. I love how you said God is in control, and God is with us. My two life promises… “…all things work together for good for those that love God… who are called…” (God is in control); and “…I will never leave you or forsake you.” (God is with us)

    31. I had breast cancer back in 1993. I had a full mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was a year before I’d finished all my treatment. I was told that with the kind of cancer I had, 1 in 4 women die within 5 years. Before I had the surgery I was in a dark place. I asked God if he’d give me enough time to see my children grown and happily married, and if I could see all my grandchildren. He told me, “Be my Amazon”. I said yes to that. He told me it wasn’t my time to die and I received such peace…the dark cloud lifted.
      When I had the radiotherapy I had to live away from my family, because our local hospital didn’t have the equipment. When I’d be waiting my turn for treatment, other patients would ask me how I could be so happy. I told them that I was in God’s hands and I wasn’t afraid. And I really wasn’t! Needless to say, the Lord answered my prayers. I have seen both my children happily married and I’ve met my grandchildren. Now the cancer has returned but I’m still not afraid, because I’m still in God’s hands. It is an inexplicable peace – a deep-seated serenity and joy – that is, I think, one of God’s greatest miracles. Thank you for this study: embrace faith. Indeed, it’s the only way to live. He is completely trustworthy.

      • All I can say Wendy is thank you, thank you, thank you. Your loving heart just radiates beyond the written word and touched my heart.

    32. I like your post-a lot to think about. What is faith to me? The Word says that it is the evidence of things not seen. It’s believing that Jesus is the answer to all my problems, my needs, my longings. It’s believing it when there is no evidence that He loves me or hears my prayers.It’s a knowing I have inside that He is My Healer, My Advocate, My Light and My Life.

    33. Thanks for this, Liz. My first visit to your blog. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia two years ago, I was only 34. Through this development, I now have to acknowledge my physical limitations instead of always pushing through them. This is what I think of when I read this story of physcial and spiritual healing, because it is through my physical “illness” that God has healed many of my spiritual wounds AND causes me to rely DAILY on Him. I cannot make it anymore on my own agenda and energy. The diagnosis made me aware of what stuffing anger and unforgivenss was doing to my body and I no longer had the luxury of holding on to these, because my body was suffering too much. I had not ever heard of you until I read Ann Voss Kamp’s blog today. What made me keep reading your story was your openness about your struggle with addiction. Thank you for that, as many people I love are affected by addiction, and of course faith for me is in letting go of trying to “fix” others.

      • Brenna, I too have been diagnosed with Fibro. This comes on my body which is already wracked with pain. It is changing me and keeping me on my knees to God too. It is such a strange disease and different for each of us. Thank you for sharing, This kindred spirit is with you also

    34. I needed this…..
      God to speak through you once again.
      To say,

      Brandi, I’ve got this
      All you have to do is believe
      Believe that I have your best interest in mind
      Don’t give up, don’t let go, hold on to ME.

    35. Thanks so much Liz for this study. Well done.
      Came here via Ann’s blog. Bless her!
      Have had some medical issues this year
      been needing some spiritual input via a bible study…
      Thank God for you and Ann V.

    36. Faith, the Bible says just a tiny bit like a mustard seed will do so much! I must have none. I have an addition to food. Works the same way as a druggy, a drunk, or a smoker. I don’t harm anyone but myself, and people say it can’t be and just go on a diet, cut down, etc. I must have faith,but yet He leaves the choice to eat or not up to me. I am not able it seem to choose rightly. The constant voice in my heav tells me to eat all the time and the only way to shut it up is to eat. I long for it to stop. I know the voice is Satan. he paints a picture of the food I can se
      em to tast. I lost 130 lbs. I have regained most of it.

      Please pray for me. I am attending Celebrate Recovery meetings at my church. I intend to keep going and let The Holy Spirit do the work in me.

      • I will pray for you, Phyllis. I struggle as you do, and none of my wonderful friends “gets it” either. A friend once told me that faith is not some great accomplishment, but the act of clinging itself. Just as Liz talked about it here as a picture of the woman’s act of reaching for Jesus’ robe. Keep clinging! Keep reaching! Keep laying the burden at Jesus’ feet. Celebrate each victory, remembering that you, by yourself, can’t succeed. But Jesus is making you new every minute of every day, and he will claim the victory for you!

      • Phyllis,
        I have been reading a book on my kindle called “God Hunger: Breaking addictions of anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating” by Desiree Ayres. I think you would get a lot out of it! May God give you victory in this area!

    37. Firstly, I am late in posting and now I see I was meant to be late. I see all the other comments from the daughters and I see that I am not alone and it refreshes and calms my spirit. Liz, thank you for doing this study on-line. Okay, so the question I chose was
      What does “faith in God” mean to you? A long time ago I came across the bible verse that has held me through all my ups and downs. Hebrews 11:! Now faith is the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of things not seen (KJ)
      But, over the past year or so I had the belief, but felt I wasn’t “putting it into action” so to speak. This weeks study was a wonderful one for me. I had been feeling like an Ice berg so hard….only some on the surface was showing, the massive bottom was like an anchor (not in a good way) and I was stuck on this ice berg. But then, I felt myself break off, adrift but heading in a better direction. I have always been a women’s leader in my church but something had changed…me. I know deal with Fibro, I had been a leader for 15+ years (and loved it). But I was struggling until I recently “retired” my position. This was a letting go that was very difficult for me. But, what a lesson! Because of this bible study I am learning so much. I need to live out my faith and not always in the same way. I had to let go and realize there are other ways that God can use me, if I only let him. I realized today that I was just looking on the “retirement” part. I am ashamed to say I am a too much of a controller at times. Although I always encourage ladies to live into God’s calling; I realized today that God is the one that is calling me out into something new. If you asked me a week ago I would have said (in a defeated voice) I “have to” step down. Now I realize I can say “God has other plans for me”. Now don’t feel useless and defeated along with being mad at my body for letting me down. I am looking forward to what God has for me next. What a change of heart! I was always saying in church meetings that “change is good”. Now I can be a personal witness to that. Change may not always make you feel safe, but embracing it makes you realize that you can give it up to God and trust in Him.

      Thank you all for helping me live into not only my “change is good” but also fully embrace the biblical verse that leads me. Again, Hebrews 11:! Now faith is the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of things not seen (KJ)

      In anticipation and peace
      Ginny

    38. I choose to comment on what faith means to me…I came 45+ years ago to faith from a legalistic dark place. When I stepped out to accept Christ, I knew I was a new creation. I’ve grown and matured, I’ve fallen and been stuck. But never again have I been lost. He healed my spirit and saved my soul, and I love what he did for me. He’s gifted me to teach and encourage through loving the sister-sinner through grace and mercy. But more than anything, he taught me to love myself which was very difficult to do. For I know me so well.

    39. Dear Liz, or Mrs. Higgs,

      I am still wondering what plans God has for my life, archeology? Nurse? Jornalist/writer? army? obviously not marriage right now, I am taking classes at a local college right now, but when I look or read the bible for direction and answers it just says stuff like how knowledge is meaningless, and produces much sorrow, and to seperate myself which is difficult to do when you got no where else to go and nothing to do, or nowhere to go. It’s difficult to because they don’t really want me here, but I can’t really leave for various reasons…..I don’t know if it’s just excuses and people think it’s all in my mind and I’m trapping myself, but when you don’t have a car, or your parents keep a hold on your account and have gaurdianship and watch your every move and stops you and follows you, then what am I supposed to do or where am I supposed to go? In the woods somewhere? I just don’t know what is right anymore. I ask God to give me signs to, and he does but I don’t listen to them because I guess I am afraid and it seems like it changes day to day. Like leave, no stay, be still, no go make disciples, even tho I am not good enough to, or wait on the Lord and he will renue thy strength, flee! I just don’t know, am I supposed to just walk out of the house and hitch hike somewhere? Am I just supposed to seperate myself from certain people in my life? Am I just supposed to wait for someone to come up to me and say, Let’s go, God sent me to you to get you and take you here. I feel like I missed my boat or plane or train, but just because I’m alone doesn’t mean God has abandoned me, he could just be training me and purifying me and changing me, and teaching me, and testing me. Remaking me sort of. Just I don’t know if He is punishing me or if he is testing me, but whatever he is doing, I’m a hard time with. I mean, my life is really easy, to easy, lazy even, just I feel guilty for it, because I know I should be working and independent and probably in some foriegn country helping some orphans or feeding the hungry and helping people, but I just am focused on me, myself and I and fixing my faults, and myself, because I realize much of myself has gone undone and I need kind of a makeover, inside. Just I don’t know if here is where to do it. It feels and seems like everything I do is a sin, or wrong, I can’t get it right. People make me feel guilty for breathing but what can I do different? I mean, they probably want me to drop off the face of the earth or disapear but I just am restricted. I am a little mad at God that he doesn’t do what I want sometimes, but I still got to serve him. Like a married women is still responsible for her husband and taking care of him whether he sleeps or has sex with her or not. Or a man provide for his family and children whether they live with him and he is married to the mama or not. Just what can I possibly do different? I feel like if I was anymore selfless I would have to die. I am not being selfless at all in fact I am very selfish. I admit I want to be loved and liked and I pretend to be friends with people that hate me, just to cope. It’s just difficult loving when well, you are nothing.

      • Christina , when I read your comment I just wanted to sit down with you and let you just talk and let your feelings out. You are special. If you are searching for peace and understanding than you have come to the right place. Jesus will , these women that read this blog every week-they will embrace you and have a heart to listen. Liz is the ultimate encourager -so you’ve come to the right place. I will be praying for you.. Please get connected. There are women that care, that will listen and pray for you too. We show up every Wednesday when Liz starts with our Bible study lesson. We read, we share, we pray for each other. We laugh and we want to listen to you too. Please join in.

      • First off, know God loves you even more than you love yourself. You made the comment that maybe you have to let go of some people, I think that is a wise decision. Some people are just not healthy to be around. Find those that truly love you for who you are, try getting connected in a church, join a small group that studies the Bible and/or reads and discusses devotions and Christian books. I am in a couple and after leaving the group I am renewed and refreshed, ready to take on another day. My advice is to keep reading the Bible and praying. We all have our valleys and hard times, pray and ask for direction. Be brutely honest with God. Admit to him your feelings, even if they are ones of anger. Releasing those feelings may open doors and windows for you to go through. Lastly, love yourself! You are just the way God made you and he loves you oh so much!

    40. ■What does “faith in God” mean to you?
      Daily believing and trusting in God, in His word, in His love, in His protection, in His faithfulness, and in His plan for my life. Daily ‘letting go’ and ‘letting God’ handle all things. Resting in His arms as He carries me, trusting Him as He knows what’s best.
      ■If you imagined Jesus looking at you, what might you see in his eyes?
      Love, Compassion, Tenderness, Mercy, Forgiving Spirit
      ■Since we cannot physically look upon the Lord’s face, then where do we turn to “see” him?
      In His Word, quiet times spent with Him when praying or doing devotions, when listening and/or worshipping him through Christian music, through christian fellowship, and in the beauty of God’s creation.

    41. My faith in God is seeing how He took care of me in the past and knowing that He will do the same in the future.
      But I need to hear Him in His Word, the sermons, and other people to assure me and lead me. Also, worship music and His creation can bring me closer to Him.
      I hope to see Jesus eyes on me, full of love for me. A love I cannot comprehend at the moment with restricted mind. When I will look in His eyes I will be able!!!!!
      Thank you, LIz, for your encouragment. Keep up the good work.
      Michele Lemiere
      Belgium

    42. One of my favorite portraits I have of Jesus is the one in which is has a big smile on His face. Pictured in a bright sunny day, with a cuddly little lamb draped over His shoulders and He, looking peaceful and happy as can be.
      All good things come from the Lord, that would include a good sense of humor would it not?? I LOVE to make people laugh and be merry! I consider the ability to do so and Blessing from God for sure!!!
      Does anyone remember the old show “Little House on the Prarie?” “Pa” would often get that mirthful glint in his eye and the beginnings of a grin twitching on his lips just before his happy laughter. I picture Jesus this way. ( in at appropriate times of course) . Joyful Joyful we adore thee…

    43. Wow! What a beautiful story of faith and grace! I have to say that even though I’ve been a Christian my whole life, growing up in the Lutheran church, it has been the last 5 years after attending a nondenominational church that I have done the most growing. I strive to learn more and still amazed at the treasures I find in the Bible through my own reading or reading Christian literature and blogs like this one. To answer one question, I would hope to see in Jesus eyes enthusiasm for me growing and maturing in my faith and encouragement to keep learning and striving. I would expect to see sorrow as I can never live up to his and the Father’s standards. I would hope that would just be a fleeting look. And finally I would hope to see the enormity of His love toward me. What a day it’ll be when we don’t have to wonder what his face looks like and what we will see in his eyes as we meet him face to face. What glorious day it’ll be!

    44. In response to “What does faith in God mean to you?”

      Faith in God, to me, means absolute confidence that “God is always good, and I am always loved” (I borrow this from Ann Voskamp, and I’ve come to own this truth). In EVERYTHING that happens or is permitted in my life, God is acting in complete goodness and He is expressing unconditional, inexhaustible, gracious love to me. This filter changes how I look at everything that happens!

    45. I agree with you on all of the places I (and other women) turn to “see” Jesus, but I really want to add one more. I am avid reader and usually have at least two books going at the same time. I am also an aspiring author (currently writing two children’s books), so that is another place I “see” Jesus. You are definitely one of the authors whose books I turn to. Not only do I “see” Jesus in your books such as “Embrace Grace”, but also in the novels you write. I “see” Jesus in the characters of these novels. God has so gifted you, Liz, to bless my life and the lives of countless women. Thank you for being obedient to Him and letting Him use YOU to touch the lives of many women in a way no one else could do.

    46. Pingback: Mark Study: Chapter 5: Just Believe | Her Steps, Her Journey, His Grace.