Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mechanics of a healing

"Your faith has made you whole" - by Edward Armitage (1817-1896)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 8:40-56

TO CHEW ON: "But Jesus said, 'Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.'" Luke 8:46

The story of the woman healed by touching Jesus' clothes has always intrigued me. The verse above makes that healing seem almost mechanical. Whilst I customarily think of prayers for healing — prayers for a miracle of any kind — as having to convince God that His promises apply to the incident, that I'm worthy, and have enough faith, here a woman touches Jesus and she's healed, apparently with no conscious volition on Jesus' part. How does that work?

Jesus said, "Your faith has made you well." So we know she had great faith and that it was key.

Faith is tricky though. It has always troubled me when "possibility thinkers" elevate the importance of faith, seeming to imply that it's the development of a muscular faith that will get us the things we desire ("If you can believe it, you can achieve it" sort of thing). Doesn't that smack of humanism — trusting myself and my human ability to conjure up the right quality and quantity of faith? And doesn't faith have to be in a power or person outside of myself? Faith can't be based on faith, can it?

This woman's faith was not of that sort. She knew to come to Jesus who had a reputation as a healer and whose power to heal was evident everywhere He went. Touching the clothes of anyone else wouldn't have healed her, no matter how strong her faith.

But that combination — a strong faith in the right person — released God's creative ability to reset the workings of the atoms and molecules of her body.

What can we learn from this story (which I take as one more little piece of the puzzle of who God is and how He works)?
  • Good things flow from God. His "virtue" is order, not chaos; unity not disharmony; health, not sickness.
  • God works in response to faith. This woman's faith is the reason Jesus gave for why she was healed.
  • Of course, we have to have faith in the right thing. Only God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has the power to reorder physical matter in such a life-affirming way.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for these clues about what You're like and how You work. Help me to learn from them and to use them to build my faith. Amen.

MORE: Never lost in the crowd

"The nature of her disease was such that she did not care to make a public complaint of it and therefore she took this opportunity of coming to Christ in a crowd. Her faith was very strong; for she doubted not but that by the touch of the hem of his garment she should derive from him healing virtue; looking upon him to be such a full fountain of mercies that she should steal a cure and he not miss it. Thus many a poor soul is healed and helped and saved by Christ that is lost in a crowd.... Believers have comfortable communion with Christ incognito." Matthew Henry's Commentary (emphases in the text,1961 edition)
One of my favorite biblical artists is Darlene Slavujac. See her depiction of this story on this page ("Faith that Heals" about three quarters of the way down).

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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