What is faith? Often when we are asked that question, we turn to Hebrews 11:1, which defines it for us. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” From that, we can gather that faith consists of surety, hope and certainty. All very true, yet often the person asking the question is seeking a more practical example. They might better have asked, “What does faith look like?” For this very reason, the rest of Hebrews 11 goes on to give example after example of what faith looks like in the life of the disciple of God. All of those examples demonstrate that faith has a practical outcome – the life of the person of faith is marked by their acting on it.
On that thought, Hebrews 11 is hardly unique. The Scripture is packed with examples of faith in action. In Matthew 9, we read two such examples right next to each other. Firstly of Jesus responding to a synagogue ruler, who has left his daughter on her death-bed so he could – in faith – ask Jesus to help. As Jesus begins to walk to the ruler’s house to see the girl, He is interrupted by a touch. A lady in the crowd is also exercising faith! “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
In his Gospel, Mark adds the fuller background on the woman’s story – “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” To be ‘subject to bleeding’ is an euphemism for an uterine hemorrhage. She was having a period that just did not stop, which meant she would’ve been treated as unclean by her society and limited in outdoor movement for fear of public embarrassment. This woman’s humiliating condition had driven her to increasing desperation for freedom from it, including the exhaustion of her resources on accessible care. Sadly, all to no avail.
The woman hears of Jesus. She’s heard that wherever He goes, people are healed. So she takes it upon herself to make whatever effort is necessary.
Knowing that many will also seek His attention, it may even be that she was waiting outside Matthew’s house in the hope that He would see her when He exited the building. Perhaps the arrival of the synagogue ruler disrupted her plans as well as His, so she follows Jesus. Her condition does not really allow for long walks, and desperate to encounter Him in however small a fashion, she pushes forward, reaches through the crowd and touches His garment.
Hers is a textbook definition of faith.
Better yet, hers is an act of faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus never lets us down, because He is not limited as others are limited. His is the fullness of God. His is the authority of God and the sovereignty of God. Faith in Jesus always works, because Jesus is God. And from old, we have been told who God is: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
The woman in this story is acting on faith because she believes God. Her believe is not tentative or with hesitation. It is faith that calls to action because it is based on God;’s revealed character. The result of such an act of faith – an act of surety, hope and certainty, is never in doubt. Or as the Scripture says, “the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Amen.
Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.Corrie Ten Boom
God does not disappoint those who come to Him in faith. So exercise your faith and come to Him this day in full confidence. He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness!