What does Mark 5:25 mean?The Bible is not specific about the woman's ailment, but based on the Greek wording it is generally thought to be menorrhagia: a heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding often caused by issues such as uterine cysts. The word "discharge" is from the Greek root word rhusis which indicates flowing blood. Though it does not mean a traumatic, "pouring" bleeding, women who have experienced extremely heavy menstruation know that it can be both uncomfortable and unsettling. In this woman's case, her condition is likely heavy enough to cause chronic anemia and severe pain.
In Judaism, menstrual blood and unused semen were seen as life lost, akin to death. Socially, the woman's bleeding causes her to be treated very like the leper in Mark 1:40–42. She is perpetually ceremonially unclean. Everything and everyone she touches is unclean. Even if she stops bleeding, she will have to wait seven days to be ritually clean again (Leviticus 15:19–23), which for this poor woman might never have happened. Josephus recorded that menstruating women weren't allowed in the temple.
This woman has had this issue for twelve years—the same amount of time the synagogue's daughter has been alive (Mark 5:42). But her life has been very different. Instead of being the beloved daughter of a respected official, she is destitute (Mark 5:26) and most likely a social pariah, even within her own family, thanks to her illness.
Even today, some medical conditions are seen as more honorable than others. A broken arm is less socially embarrassing than hemorrhoids, for instance. In the same vein, women are taught from a very early age to hide any hint of menstruation. Once again, Jesus shows that He doesn't care about social convention. He doesn't care if it's an injury, an illness, something we're born with, or even something that would make us ritually unclean if we were still under the Mosaic Law. In fact, sometimes God will even use the ignoble physical conditions to bring us closer to Him—to help us in our journey toward spiritual maturity.
When faced with a debilitating, embarrassing disease, we should remember we can always take it to God. He may not heal our physical condition, but the spiritual blessing He will give us will outweigh any pain or discomfort.