A Woman’s Weak Faith
Here was a miserable, sick woman who had lost everything after twelve years of illness. She was filled with superstition as she approached Jesus: “If I touch even His garments, I shall be made well” (v. 28). She thought that there was some magical power emanating from Jesus’ physical body rather than power going forth from His omnipotent and sovereign will. It was a faith that was supremely ignorant. It was the same kind of faith encouraged by certain healers of today, who say, “Put your hand on the radio and send me a dollar,” or, “Visit this shrine,” or, “Buy the special charm.” She had no concept of the fact that true life comes from Christ’s sovereign grace and that His compassion goes out to save, heal, and bless by an act of His will. She thought that it would be possible to sneak a blessing and slip away without being caught. There is no knowledge of Christ’s identity and His ways of working. There is no thought of a connection between the Giver and the gift.
Yet her heart was hungry to be whole and to be freed from her misery. She was confident that just a touch would somehow be enough. And, though so imperfect, this was enough to receive the grace of Christ!
In light of this, we must not condemn a person who does not subscribe to every point of our creed. True faith may be based on a very hazy mental perception of partial truth. In Latin America, the illiterate Indian who bums candles before a shrine may have the light of Christ. The hand that holds a crucifix may yet touch the cross. The face of Christ may be visible through a cloud of incense. Every day, more and more, I thank God that I have nothing to do with deciding who is saved and who is not.
This woman’s faith was also a selfish faith. All she wanted was to be healed and then to get away by herself. Many people in the first stages of the Christian life are like this. They are brought to Christ through some need; growth, love, and true repentance only come afterward. Those who criticize believers who came to Christ under the preaching of a “hellfire gospel” would do well to learn from this story that the highest Christian truths may be approached through the basest and most selfish motives. Growth will come. When we are sick, we are thinking of our disease, but when we are cured, we are grateful to the Doctor.
And this woman did touch Him in faith. It was a real faith, though flawed and feeble. If you know your faith is weak, cry out, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!” He will always hear that prayer. “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). Jesus did heal her when she first touched Him, but, paradoxically, He did so in order that she might learn that the healing did not come in her way, but in His. Once it had taken place, He called for her until she came forward, and then she found the connection between the gift and the Giver, and even more significantly, between the Giver and the receiver.
In every transaction with us, Jesus’ ability is unlimited. Our blessing is limited by our capacity to receive in faith. Lord, teach us to open our mouths wide in faith, that You may fill them! Help Thou our unbelief?
- How did this woman receive the grace of Christ?
- How does our knowledge of truth inform our understanding of true faith?
- Can one have true faith without knowledge of Christ?
- Why is the woman selfish?
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