Your Faith

One time “a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years”1  touched the fringe of Jesus’ garment believing that if she did, she could be healed. And she was!  Another time a blind man approached Jesus and said, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight!”2  And he did! And then there was the time that ten lepers cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”3 And they were all cleansed! 😀

     What was it that prompted Jesus to grant these folks’ request and heal them? Their faith. Jesus’ response to each of these suffering souls was the same. He said, “Your faith has made you well.”4 Note that it was not the faith of Jesus that healed them—it was their faith, their personal faith. 🤨 Faith that was not given to them, but faith that they brought to Jesus. So, kudos to these folks for two reasons: 1) their faith was in Jesus—not another god, not in themselves, and not in pharisaic righteousness, and 2) their faith was something they chose to exercise. They took a risk—a chance, a gamble—which included the possibility of being disappointed. They expelled their energy. They had hope—when probably most people they knew had advised them to simply accept the life that had been given to them, the hand they were dealt, so to speak, and stop expecting things to change.

     So it was their faith in Jesus, along with the power of Jesus, and his decision to heal them, that healed them. And we must note that they believed that God could heal them—not necessarily that he would heal them. You see, if they were sure that God would heal them, it would require no faith. And just to complicate this concept a little bit more, we must understand that Jesus has the power to heal (or not heal) whomever he wishes, even those who do not ask for healing. Consider the man in the synagogue who had a withered hand. He did not ask to be healed but Jesus told him, “‘Stretch out your hand.’ And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.”5 And we must understand that Jesus has the power to do miraculous things for people who never ask him to.  When Jesus fed four thousand people with seven loaves of bread, he did so after the disciples asked him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”6 It never even crossed their minds that Jesus could resolve their dilemma! But also remember the time when Jesus was at his home church and people refused to believe that he was who he said he was? He “did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”7

     Hmm. 🤨 How’s that for a simple and clear introduction of what it means to have faith? 😉  It prompts me to ask the question—What kind of faith do we have? I daresay, for most, it is mere lip service. To say we believe in God is not the same as to actually have faith in God. The unbelieving world demands proof that God exists and questions how a loving God could permit so much evil in the world. Is our faith any different from the unbelieving world? Do we not demand signs from God that he is present? And do we not often question why he permits certain (bad) things to occur in our lives? 😦

     Some people are grateful to God that he meets their needs; they feel blessed by God. But that’s not faith, that’s being thankful—which is right and good. Faith in God, however, is trusting that God can meet our needs when he does not. Faith is believing God loves us when we feel unloved by him. Faith is being confident that God can fix an impossible situation when he does not. Our faith is not measured by our church attendance or our generous nature or our thankful hearts or our positive attitudes. It is measured when we are suffering and are disappointed and are bewildered at our unsuccessful attempts to serve him. We discover how much faith we have in God only when he appears to be silent and absent. 🤔

     And one more thing! Many faithful church goers pass part one of the faith test—putting their faith in Jesus. But few pass part two—exercising their faith. Most of us never step out into faith—do something that requires risk. We, in fact, thwart the need for faith by living a very safe (mediocre) life. We settle. We dare not hope for a different (abundant) life because it is so uncertain. So, what kind of faith do we have? We will never truly know until it is put to the test, i.e. until we suffer. Which is why I love James for writing, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”8  If we do well on the test of faith, we will become steadfast (faithful, steady, unwavering, resolute) because of our suffering. But doing well is not guaranteed. It will depend solely on our faith. And we can shout to Jesus all day long, “Increase our faith!”9  but that, my friends, is entirely up to us.

     Wouldn’t it be lovely to go through a trial and to hear Jesus say to us, Your faith has made you well!”😁

1Matthew 9:20    2Mark 10:51    3Luke 17:13    4Matthew 9:22; Mark 10:52; Luke 17:19      5Matthew 12:13    6Mark 8:4    7Matthew 13:58    8James 1:2    9Luke 17:5  

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