The Lunatic Fringe


Chronic doesn’t blow anyone away, it starves you out, leaving you isolated and anemic.

Killing you softly. Casting you out. Making you desperate, irrational, and even willing to try something crazy ….

If only I could just touch his garment, I know I would be healed…

Twelve years. After twelve years of chronic bleeding, she had to be tired. Tired of stares and whispers and unanswered prayers. Tired of their same questions:

Is that still going on? What did the doctor say? Haven’t you tried…?

I’m sure she could see the skepticism in their eyes. She had to notice them shortening the conversations. I bet she could feel them pulling away…

She was unclean, untouchable, and she knew it. She was well aware of the rules and the disgrace. But she also knew of Jesus’ miracles.

So, when hearing of His arrival, she had to be out of her mind and drunk on hope. No wonder she couldn’t help but reach out for the hem of His robe just as He walked by…

And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” Luke 8: 45-46

Do you know where Jesus was headed when He met that woman? He and the crowd were responding to a crisis. Back up a few verses and read about earlier in the story:

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. Luke 8:40-42

They were on their way to a dying girl. The crowd was rushing Jesus passed the chronic to get to the crisis. And rightfully so…

Let’s keep moving, Jesus. The woman will be there later. She always is.

Because it makes a lot more sense and it’s a lot more appealing to rally behind a twelve year-old girl than a twelve year-old disease.

Or another round of chemo.

Or twenty year-old grief.

Or a lifetime of mental illness.

But Jesus stopped for her chronic, dirty, shameful problem. He didn’t miss what happened on the fringe of his robe. And he doesn’t miss who’s on the fringes of life, either.

He stops for those who know they have nothing to offer except endless brokenness; for those who have no new plan and nothing else to say.

He turns toward those of us who are weary of scrubbing our own blood off our hands to look alive.

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by. *

Jesus offers much more than His hem to the lunatic fringe. Because unless you’ve been there, you’d never give the most irrational, outrageous things a chance…

Like a healing touch. Like complete forgiveness and full restoration. Like nothing but the blood of Another.

And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace. Luke 8:47-48

Do not let Him pass you by, my fringe friend.

Be seen. Be healed. Go in peace.


*hymn lyrics by Frances J. Crosby
photo: Jakob Owens

Holly Barrett

14 thoughts on “The Lunatic Fringe

  1. Rosemary Oliver January 14, 2017 / 10:48 am

    Powerful, Karen – Thank you and Bless youmuch loverosemary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Suzanne Crockett January 14, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    Ohhhh thank you for this poignant and profound encouragement! I’ve been every person in this story – except for Jesus. And it made me love Him even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen Brown January 14, 2017 / 3:45 pm

      “every person in this story except Jesus” – me too, MS. Thanks so much for reading!


  3. Megs January 17, 2017 / 6:13 am

    Karen, I love this woman’s story, and I love that Jesus did not do what anyone would have expected in this situation. His calm nature, and assured sense of a compass of kindness and love in a crisis is the most endearing characteristic to me.
    Happy Tuesday, from the #TestimonyTuesday linkup.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen Brown January 17, 2017 / 7:07 am

      I love this story, too, Megs. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Fun to connect with you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Megs January 17, 2017 / 9:41 am

        Yes! I love these connections! It really is so fun!


  4. Michele Morin January 17, 2017 / 7:37 am

    I love this rendering of one of my favorite NT stories. The scurrying crowd, the tyranny of the urgent, and all this up against the slow suffering of a quiet woman on a crowded street — Jesus showed such compassion.


  5. Loved by the King of kings January 17, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    “he doesn’t miss who’s on the fringes of life, either.

    He stops for those who know they have nothing to offer except endless brokenness;”

    So true, and it’s a good thing, too. As frail human disciples, we sometimes lose our patience with the chronically needy. It is hard to persevere. But Jesus is our example, His patience, His perseverance, His willingness to heal and hear. He sticks with the broken even when others pull away. Like this woman, like Rahab, like the woman at the well…
    He gives us value when others give up on us. May we also recognize the value He has given those He puts in our lives to minister to.
    I just wrote on the Samaritan woman the other day. If you’re interested, you can find it at:

    The Lord bless you! Amen!


  6. Lesley January 17, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    This is one of my favourite stories in the Bible and I love your reflections here. I love that Jesus took time for those that others looked down on or disregarded.


  7. Jeanne Takenaka January 17, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    Karen, one of my most favorite things about this story is that Jesus SAW this woman. She wanted a healing while being insignificant, invisible.
    But Jesus made her visible. He honored her. I love that when we reach out to Him, He SEES us too. Even when we feel insignificant and invisible.

    Such beautiful thoughts here today, my friend!


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