From a Heart Barren of Belief


She’d tried for twelve years to find a remedy to her ailment. Medicines and surgeries and oils and spices and diet changes, I’m sure everyone had exhausted their fix-all’s on her. Doctors and mothers and Young Living representatives, they’d heard of her problem, but their extensive solutions proved empty. It probably came as no surprise to them to see her elbowing her way to the Healer, the Jesus Who’d touched so many broken people. 

We all know this story well. But today, I’m not sure I identify with our unnamed heroine. I doubt that I would have had the faith to push through the crowd to touch the hem (the kanaf) that hung from Christ’s prayer shawl (tallit). I think I would have stood at the edges of the crowd and waited for Jesus to come to me. And even then, I don’t know that I would have believed enough to reach up and take hold of those tassels, those fringes that hung from His tallit, those threads tied with the unique knots that represented His family’s authority. The woman knew the social and economic power represented in the tassels (kanaf) that hung from every Jewish man’s prayer shawl (tallit). She knew that Jesus could walk into a market, lay that tassel across a slab of clay when making a purchase, and the unique imprint left at the cash register would be as good as a credit card. She was aware that the kanaf represented His authority and that’s why she chose to take hold of it. She claimed His wholeness for her brokenness, His power for her helplessness. 


I know these facts by heart, but my faith still falters, and I hesitate at His hem. I’m afraid that my own desires are delirious, that my own hopes are human. 

Unlike the woman in Matthew 9, I know I’m barren of belief and I’m empty of faith. Yet the words in Isaiah 6 inspire me to take heart again. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, he saw that His train, His tassel, that hem that carrries such authority, it filled the temple. 

It was easy to touch. 

One need not be full of faith, be burdened with belief. No one has to reach further than their faith compels them. The heroine in the story undoubtedly came a distance, and pushed past people, and risked embarrassment and humiliation and punishment. 

But I am weak and my faith frail and my belief broken. Yet, in my solitude I sense His train is close. It has filled the temple. I need not leave this place of peace.  

He covers the distance our faith fails to cross.  

If we are faithless, he remains faithful...
— 2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)

Images by Merilee Barnard

Thoughts inspired from the following sources: 

Dr. Matt Friedeman, Discipleship in the Home class, lecture on the Shema at God’s Bible School.

Katie Davis Majors, Daring to Hope, Crown Publishing.

“Hidden Mysteries of the Tallit” retrieved from:

Merilee BarnardComment