And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:25-34 (ESV)
“Faith healing” is often seen (and for the most part, probably should be) as a parlor trick or as a hustle and scam perpetrated by false teachers. If we witness something that’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Yet Jesus’ healing is different than parlor tricks or the quid pro quo scams of the hustlers. Jesus does not heal on our demand, or in exchange for anything we do, or according to how much we pay.
Instead, Jesus declares to the woman trusting in Him for healing: Your faith has made you well.
The question about faith is: “faith in what, or in whom?” Faith must have an object. We have faith that the concrete bridge on the freeway will hold up the car as we drive over it. We can see the bridge, and we trust that since it held the car up yesterday that it will hold the car up today. We have faith that the sun will rise in the morning, because we can see it and we can feel its warmth, but because we can’t see Him, we struggle with faith in Jesus, who is Lord over both the concrete bridge, and who is the one who created the sun. The concrete bridge (that we really don’t give a lot of thought to) that we trust to endure was made by fallible men, and the sun, as timeless as it appears to be, is a created thing that God designed to have a limited and finite lifespan. We trust both of those created things without really thinking about them, because we can see and touch them, but both of those created things, eventually, will fail.
Jesus will never fail, and His word always accomplishes its purpose. Our faith is well placed in Him, but we struggle with that faith, especially when we can’t see how and when He is working.
We struggle with that faith because we can’t always see Jesus’ fidelity. We suffer tragic and unforeseen losses- natural disasters, and man-made disasters that make no sense. We see children die of cancer even when we prayed for their lives to be spared, and that loss causes us to doubt Jesus’ power to heal. We encounter senseless violence and destruction every time we turn on the news. We question, “How can a merciful God who claims to love us allow this senseless violence to continue?” We cry out to God, “How long!” when we endure and continue to observe what seems to be endless suffering and pain. When we have to wait on the fulfillment of His promises, the waiting can be hard. It is easy to lose hope in this fallen world.
We are still subject to and are witnessing the effects of the Fall that brought sin and death into the world. We are painfully aware that in this world suffering and death and loss are the defaults, even as we are painfully aware that death is not normal and suffering is not acceptable. We see the kingdom of God to a degree today, but as the apostle Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Faith is trusting Jesus, who we can’t see clearly and completely while we still have one foot here in the earthly kingdom.
We do get to see glimpses of Jesus and His healing power breaking into this world through His ministry here on earth. We see the woman who was healed of her bleeding disease after suffering for twelve years. We see Jairus’ daughter in that same chapter of Scripture, being raised from the dead.
What we don’t see about Jesus’ physical healings and His miraculous raising people from the dead while He lived here on earth was that these people still physically died. They were still ultimately subject to the curse of sin and death. The woman who touched Jesus’ garment is not still living on this earth. The little girl who Jesus raised for a time, is long since dead and buried, awaiting the re-creation of heaven and earth.
Jesus is always the Author of healing- whether it be through the means of medical science, through medication, or through the natural processes of the body. Sometimes His plan for us does involve delaying or even denying our bodily healing for a time. And until Jesus returns, all of creation is subject to the curse of decay and death.
Ultimately Jesus will be the Author of a new heaven and a new earth and we will have incorruptible bodies.
The apostle Paul explains: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (ESV)
So in whom do we place our faith?
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10 (ESV)
Our life with Jesus began in our baptism. How joyful it is to know that we too, will be healed- maybe here and now, or maybe not, but we will be healed- permanently- when Jesus returns.