I have to be honest: this story confuses me on my best day and angers me on my worst. I have known many people with faith much stronger than mine who have died from illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and pneumonia. I can remember sitting in a small country church and hearing a pastor express his belief that if anyone was battling an illness like cancer, all they had to do was pray harder and have more faith and they would be healed. My wife had to work hard to keep me calm.
Even so, Jesus says quite clearly that this woman was healed because of her faith. So how do we understand the role that faith plays here?
First, faith is planted and nurtured by God and grows in us because of Jesus’ work in our lives. It is a product of his closeness to us. While we do things to develop our faith, it is all in relationship to God and not by our own works. Faith is from God, and this woman’s healing happened in relationship with God through Christ.
Second, Jesus says that this woman’s faith healed her. He doesn’t say that everyone’s faith heals all things. To think that all illness can and should be healed by the faith of the sick person isn’t what Jesus means here. But Jesus is pointing out that faith is a strong and important component of our lives.
God’s gift of faith in us can do amazing things for us and for those around us. Let’s ask God to increase our faith today.