Daughter, Your Faith has Healed You


marilyn-gardner-healing-faith3By Marilyn Gardner | Twitter: @MarilynGard

I grew up in Pakistan. As an only daughter in a house full of boys, my family treated me like a princess.

I loved Pakistan. Pakistan was my home, the place of my earliest memories. All of my firsts happened there. As I grew up, I learned more about my adopted land. I learned about the amazing and complex country of extremes. Pakistan has some of the highest and most beautiful mountain ranges, a reputation for being graciously hospitable, and arguably has the best food in the world.

And yet, women there are in difficult situations.

Throughout my childhood, I have met women who were strong and beloved, but were in some of the worst conditions imaginable.

I was 16 years old when I first encountered a woman with a fistula. I was volunteering at a women and children’s hospital in the southern area of the country. I remember opening the door to the hospital room and seeing a young woman sitting on her bed wearing a look of defeat and resignation on her face. The smell of urine was overwhelming and the fan that whirred above me did nothing to take away the smell.

While the textbook definition of a fistula is “a medical condition brought about by obstructed labor and/or trauma leaving a woman with incontinence,” the practical definition is loss of family, isolation, being seen as a pariah and being relegated to a cursed position in a room away from the rest of the family.

A fistula is indescribably difficult for the woman who has one. Women are labeled as unclean and unwanted.

I can still remember my reactions when I entered the hospital room and saw that woman. My heart cried out in anger at life’s injustice to her, and I longed to embrace her and proclaim her worth. But the smell made me want to leave. I hated myself for my reaction and I cursed my strong sense of smell.

I left in tears and headed out to the dusty courtyard to cry on my own. Outside, I stood in the dust, defeated by both the woman’s situation and my reaction.

Long ago in the dusty streets of Palestine, in a place much like the one where I grew up, Jesus met a woman whose life was shrouded with shame. She had been bleeding for many years and was cast off from her community and society. But she had heard of this man, Jesus. She heard that he healed the sick, made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He was coming her way, and she thought maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that she could be healed.

On a busy street, she reached out and touched this man. Immediately, she knew she was healed.

But Jesus knew she needed more. He knew that she needed to know that she was deeply loved, that she would no longer live under the shroud of shame, under the label “unclean.” So he relentlessly pursued her.

“Who touched me?” he said. “Who touched me?” When she finally came forward, he spoke words of truth: “Daughter, your faith has healed you! Go in peace and be free from your suffering.”

Did I understand those powerful words? Did I realize the depth of love that Jesus had for a woman steeped in shame? Did I understand that I too could go in peace and be free from my suffering?

I was 16 when I first felt the deep love of those words, when I first prayed them for another woman. In the years since I have needed to hear them over and over again, to say them aloud and have them permeate my soul.

I have learned that this same Jesus is still here. He is still saying “Who touched me?” He is still pursuing, loving, healing, and freeing women from their suffering. His words of kindness and love to an unclean woman echo through generations of women: “Daughter, your faith has healed you! Go in peace and be free from your suffering!”


Marilyn Gardner Marilyn Gardner is an adult third culture kid who grew up in Pakistan and then lived as an adult in Pakistan and Egypt. She birthed 5 kids on 3 continents, and went on to raise them in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to the United States. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 15 minutes from the international terminal where she flies to the Middle East & Pakistan as often as possible. Her first book, Between Worlds: Essays on Culture & Belonging © Doorlight Publications came out in July 2014. Her writing also appears in the book What a Woman is Worth © Civitas Press published 2014, Among Worlds Magazine, and A Life Overseas – The Missions Conversation