One of the many wonderful records of deliverance in the Gospels is that of the woman with the issue of blood. This woman was truly tormented. For twelve years, she lived with a seemingly incurable disability. She consulted with all of the experts and specialists of her day, but to no avail. At the end of her quest, all of her material resources were exhausted, and still she had no deliverance, and no answers. Many people in similar straits have simply given up, crushed under the weight of frustration and despair.
But then the Lord Jesus entered her life.
The instant she touched the border of his garment, her flow of blood ceased. She was healed. Undoubtedly all of those years of hopelessness became suddenly insignificant in that moment. Sorrow gave way to joy; pain was overshadowed by victory.
She then declared to the Lord both why she had touched him and what had occurred. His response is noteworthy.
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Jesus said, “Thy faith [believing] hath made thee whole.” And yet, we know that the healing could not have come to pass by believing alone. Had it not been for the authority of Jesus Christ, nothing would have happened. Had it not been for the power which went out from him (see verse 46, where the word dunamis, or power, is translated as virtue), the issue of blood would have continued unabated.
Certainly if she had believed in anything else but Jesus — a pool of water, a piece of wood, or a mere man, for example — her situation would have remained unchanged.
Why then did Jesus emphasize one thing only — “thy faith?”
The truth is that every move of God, from the most unique miracles to the daily fulfillment of written promises, begins with His promise. He makes known that which He is willing and able to do. The power is all His. By comparison, our one small act of believing — saying “yes” to His promise — seems insignificant indeed. And yet, to unleash all of that power, believing is an essential step.
All of the carefully planned and intricately designed parts which comprise your automobile will remain an inert lump of metal in your driveway until you perform one simple act — turning the key. In the same way, though God has lovingly initiated, wisely planned, and clearly declared His desire to manifest Himself in our lives, that desire cannot be consummated until someone, somewhere, hears and believes.
The healing of this one woman was not the only occasion on which Jesus pointed out the absolute necessity of “thy faith.” He said the same thing to the leper who returned to thank Jesus for his cleansing (Luke 17:19), to the blind man healed near Jericho (Luke 18:42), and to a woman who is called simply “a sinner” (Luke 7:50).
By making this designation, Jesus was not promoting some sort of humanistic, self-help, “mind-over-matter” doctrine. But he was showing the requirement of believing. And perhaps more importantly, he was indicating that faith is not some mystical force. It is not the result of fate, luck, or chance. It is not passed on by birth or proximity. Faith, believing, is a personal choice.
It is not simply “faith made you whole.” It is “your faith;” it is “my faith.”
The deliverance experienced by all of these people was due to their faith. In truth, every individual who has ever received from God has done so due to their faith.
The converse is also true.
Luke 8:22 — 25a
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
And he said unto them, Where is your faith?
Had I been one of the disciples that day, I could have come up with several plausible reasons for anxiety. After all, I’ve been a follower for less than a year, and I have no experience with calming storms. Those things are better left to Jesus — and he’s asleep! Maybe his authority only works when he’s awake …
Jesus, however, pointed to “your faith.” Or, in this case, to the lack of it.
“Your faith” — it does make things personal, doesn’t it? Some Christians are not comfortable with this. They would rather that deliverance depended upon something less specific, something more distant. Some even think it “cruel” that God would limit Himself to “your faith.”
Instead, we should rejoice at this simple, wonderful revelation. For now we know that there is no mystery to God’s promises. They are not limited to a chosen few. They can be appropriated by anyone, even by me, if I simply do one thing that any human being can do. God is no respecter of persons!
Certainly, like those disciples, all of us to some degree need to grow in our faith, our believing. Isn’t it wonderful to know that God wants this as well! To help us in this growth, he has placed us in the Body of Christ, where others, by teaching and example, can positively affect our believing (see, for example, I Corinthians 2:4,5; II Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 2:17; I Thessalonians 3:1–10).
But the greatest aid to growth in believing is even closer at hand. It is “nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart” (Romans 10:8). For, very simply, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Let us continue to hear the Word of God. Let us give it the time and attention that others give to the lifeless words of men. If we do, then God assures us that the results will be seen in our faith.
May it one day be said of us, as it was said of the church at Rome, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8).