All the theory and teaching we have been looking at can be exciting, but it has its limits. No matter how deeply we delve into these stories of healing and restoration, we still have to ask whether we too can experience Jesus’ healing touch. We still have to ask what it will take for us to be set free. So the time has come to look at four keys, four steps we can take, that will help bring us to the point where we hear Jesus say to us: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Believe. The word believe can have many different shades of meaning. But the kind of belief we are talking about here involves something more than accepting intellectually that something is true. It is far more personal than that: It has to do with our hearts just as much as it has to do with our minds. It’s the kind of faith that the hemorrhaging woman had—a faith that propels us to go to the Lord; a faith that moves us to stake some vital part of our lives on who Jesus is and what he wants to do in our lives.
This kind of faith means knowing not just that God is good, or that he loves humanity in general. It means knowing that he loves you. It means knowing that Jesus is on your side. It means trusting that he wants nothing but good for you and that he delights in restoring you and bringing you into a new relationship with him—a relationship that changes your outlook and gives you a new philosophy for your life. It means trusting that even if we don’t receive the precise physical healing we are asking for, we can still receive a healing in our hearts and minds as we surrender our lives to someone who will never let us down.
This kind of faith is not something that we can drum up on our own. In fact, faith like this often flies in the face of human logic. At first glance, it was completely illogical for the hemorrhaging woman to think that simply touching a piece of fabric would be enough to stop her incessant bleeding. But Mark tells us that she had heard about Jesus, and that the stories she heard—both of his teachings and of the miracles he had performed—helped convince her that Jesus really could heal her. It wasn’t her own logic. It was the way others shared with her about Jesus that helped her connect with the Holy Spirit, who gave her the faith to go looking for Jesus herself.
What kind of healing are you looking for this year? What one or two areas of your life do you most want God to touch? It may be an illness or medical condition that you can’t seem to shake. It may be a pattern of sin that you find hard to put away. It may be a sense of guilt or shame from some past sin. Or it may be the wounds inflicted on you by someone else’s sin or carelessness. Whatever it is, Jesus wants to tell you that he can—in fact, he wants to—help you find freedom and peace. All he asks is that you believe that he can pour out his healing on you this year—divine power that far surpasses what you could ever achieve on your own.
Cry Out. The faith that we just described is the kind of faith that will move us to cry out to the Lord. It will move us to persist in prayer, asking him to heal us and set us free. All of the Gospel stories we’ve looked at highlight people who pushed through obstacles to get to Jesus—people like Bartimaeus, who cried out to Jesus, even when everyone else tried to silence him.
At one point in his ministry, Jesus wanted to teach his disciples how to cry out to his Father in heaven. He told them a parable about a widow who was relentless in seeking justice from a judge who didn’t care about her suffering. Ultimately, this widow prevailed because she never stopped asking. Jesus then asked his disciples, If this unjust judge finally gave in, how much more will God hear and answer his children when we cry out to him? These were very encouraging words, but then Jesus asked a pointed question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).
This parable shows us how Jesus links faith with persistent prayer. It is not enough, he tells us, to offer up one or two prayers to God and then go about our lives resigned to whatever happens. No, the faith he wants to give us is the kind of faith that persists. It’s the kind of faith that knows how challenging the spiritual life can be, and so continues on in prayer, asking, seeking, and knocking. Jesus wants us to have this kind of faith because he knows how easy it can be for us to place our needs in God’s hands—only to take them up ourselves again and again.
Brothers and sisters, don’t stop petitioning your heavenly Father! Don’t think persistence is the same as weak faith. Rather, keep praying, just as this persistent widow did, and watch how God changes not only your situation but your heart as well. Who knows? He may not grant you the exact healing you are asking for, but he will certainly draw you close to his side and pour out his grace—maybe in ways far more wonderful than you were asking for!
Get Right with God. Nothing blocks our experience of God’s healing power more effectively than sin. Each transgression, each act of selfishness or disobedience, is like a layer of thin gauze covering our hearts. If we don’t deal with these sins, the layers will build up, sinking us into deeper and deeper darkness. Either we will end up feeling so guilty that we won’t believe Jesus loves us anymore, or our consciences will become so dulled that we won’t even notice—or care—how far from the Lord we have wandered. And the farther from the Lord we are, the harder it is for us to be open to his healing touch in our lives.
This is why repentance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are so important. Jesus doesn’t call us to confess our sins because he wants us to feel guilty or because he wants to beat us down. Quite the opposite! He wants to set us free. He wants to heal us, spiritually and physically. And it is often the case that physical healing follows after spiritual healing. This is why St. James exhorts us: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). He knew that when we clear out the spiritual barriers of sin, we are paving a path for God to come closer to us—and to heal us.
Think of the sinful woman from Luke 7. Jesus could tell that this woman had been touched by his gospel and had accepted his mercy and forgiveness. It was this experience of being forgiven, in fact, that moved her to anoint Jesus’ feet and weep tears of joy and gratitude over him. Because she had put away her old life, she felt free enough to rush into Jesus’ presence and hear him promise her that not only was she forgiven—she was saved and healed as well! So don’t let any sin stand between yourself and the Lord. If it has been too long, go to Confession and get right with God. Repent, and you will experience the power of Jesus’ mercy to heal and restore.
Rest Assured. There is one final key to hearing Jesus tell you that your faith has saved or healed you: Be confident! Rest assured that your Father in heaven knows what you need before you even ask (Matthew 6:8). Trust that he will not give you a snake when you ask him for a fish, or that he will not give you a scorpion when you ask for an egg (Luke 11:11-12). Jesus himself assures us: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (12:32).
It can be hard to believe—especially in a world that tells us we have to go it alone—that God delights in us. It can be hard to believe that he loves to heal us and to give us good gifts. But this is the very heart of the gospel. This is why Jesus’ teaching is called “good news.”
Believe that God is on your side. Keep pressing in to be with Jesus so that he can touch and heal you. And above all, rest secure in the knowledge that your heavenly Father longs to pour his power into your life—more, even, than you long to be healed and restored. This is the faith that heals. This is the faith that saves. This is the faith that brings a smile to Jesus’ face. May God bless you with his healing grace as this year unfolds.