Learning to Walk by Faith
by Rev. Sherard Edington
(The following is Sherard’s Worship Wilson column for the Wilson Post published on November 3, 2022.)
In the Bible, there is a sobering story of a woman who obtains healing from Jesus without him even knowing it. For twelve years, this woman had suffered from a hemorrhage. She sought out every doctor and healer she could find but none could help her. She spent all her money in search of a cure for this exanguious ailment.
Because of her condition, the woman was regarded as being ritually unclean. And to be unclean meant that people would skirt around her so as to avoid the possibility of contact. Her condition was common knowledge and her disease banished her to the fringes of civilization.
But then she learns that this traveling rabbi was near. It was rumored that he could perform miracles. She hatches a plan.
Given her condition, she likely wrapped a scarf around her face to obscure her identity. When Jesus arrived, she elbowed her way through the crowd to get close to him. She didn’t dare confront this rabbi face to face. He would know she was an outcast and would reject her. Her plan was to get as close as possible and just touch whatever part of him she could reach. Even if was just the fringe on his cloak, that would be enough.
Her plan works and two things happen. First, she is healed. Her decade-long curse is lifted.
Second, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who touched me?” Peter asks, “Are you serious? Look at all these people. All of them are touching you.” But Jesus tells him, “Someone touched me, and when they did, power left me.”
The woman knows that she is about to be exposed so she falls down trembling before Jesus and confesses to everyone that indeed she had been healed.
Jesus tells her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8:43-48).
What I find remarkable about this story is that the woman had squandered all her resources seeking a cure. The last twelve years had taken their toll. The woman had hit bottom and Jesus is the only hope at getting her life back.
We are all guilty of acting like the woman of this story. When confronted with a setback in our lives, we do everything possible to remedy the dilemma ourselves. We deplete our resources, our time, our relationships—everything—to repair the problem.
And then, when nothing works, as a last resort, we fall back on our quivering faith.
But what if, instead of wasting our efforts with our secular solutions, we went straight to faith? As the Apostle Paul writes, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” What if we closed our eyes and placed our faith in God to work a miracle?
As the book of Proverbs advises, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Putting our faith in God does not mean abandoning this world, it means making God part of it. If you have cancer, continue to see the oncologist, but include God in your treatment. If you have lost your job, keep looking, but ask God for guidance. If your marriage is rocky, seek counseling, and pray to God for a conciliatory spirit.
Faith is powerful. Use it.
Sherard Edington has served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lebanon for 11 years. Worship Wilson is a weekly column written by pastors and people of faith.