Recently, I looked back over sermons I had given a few years after my brain injury in 1996. I gave one at The Open Door Community – a Christian community that serves people who are homeless and in prison. I remember struggling with it because it had more of my personal experiences in it than usual. Using personal stories is okay as long as the preacher doesn’t spend the whole sermon talking about her or himself for the sermon should not be about the preacher but rather about God. The way I handled it was to be a catalyst allowing folks to share their own thoughts and experiences.
I spoke about the woman with a hemorrhage in Luke 8: 43-48 but the story is also in Mark 5:25-34; Matt. 9:20-22 . For 12 long years, the woman had to continually wash out her clothes and she was always weak and tired from losing so much blood. She could not bear children which meant she couldn’t participate in what her society saw as her principle role in the family and in the economy – bearing children. No one wanted to be around her for they were afraid whatever she had might rub off on them.
She pushed her way through the crowd and came up behind him thinking if all she did was touch his cloak, her hemorrhaging would stop. She managed to touch him but Jesus felt power go out from him so he asked, “Who touched me?” The woman probably hoped she could slink away without Jesus ever knowing that he healed her but trying to keep things secret is often impossible. When Jesus kept looking for who had touched him, she came forward frightened.
She may have thought, “What’s he going to do now? Is he going to take his healing away? Will I be an outcast again? Is he going to yell at me?” She could tell Jesus wanted to know what had happened so Mark tells us, “She told the whole truth.” She told him everything. This is when her healing began.
Our society is structured in such a way that the strong often win over the weak so we don’t want to appear weak. We hide our weakness so folks won’t know the truth about us. Telling this truth is difficult. Many of us want to appear indispensable so as not to lose our jobs or standing in life. I remember when I lived in Atlanta; I often hid my weaknesses caused by my TBI for I thought people would think less of me if they knew.
However, to my surprise, often when I shared these weaknesses, the other person responded with, “Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I have that same thing!” We all have weaknesses but we’re afraid to show them. Those of us with disabilities can be leaders in showing weaknesses.
As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)