In the movie, “Leap of Faith”, Steve Martin plays a traveling preacher who, I understand, worked a con in small towns he’d visit with his road show, performing healing miracles.
(As often happens with a movie that stars a comedian, I assumed it would be a comedy, and spent much of the time waiting for the laughs to start. They didn’t. It was a serious movie with a serious subject, and I must watch it again sometime.)
At one point, Debra Winger, who plays one of Steve’s assistants, tells him that her little brother had been told that he wasn’t healed after people prayed over him because he “didn’t have enough faith”. The sense that people in the church were blaming him for being sick turned her off religion.
I know from experience – my own and watching others’ – that one can be healed of sickness; but many people aren’t, and the question is, Why? Do they not have “enough faith”?
Doesn’t Jesus tell us that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed and do not doubt, you can move a mountain. Healing sickness, therefore, would be a piece of cake. So yes: you can have enough faith to be healed – or to overcome addiction, stay true to your spouse, get a handle on your finances, or anything else that requires God’s help (like, everything) – but you still have to guard against doubt.
And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed and she may live.” … Some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid. Only believe.”
And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James.
Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep?> The child is not dead, but sleeping.”
And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talisha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you: Arise!”
Immediately, the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.
— Mark 5:22-23; 35-42
Jesus certainly had “enough faith” and Jairus had enough faith to go to the Master for help. But the fly in the ointment was the people who were mourning the death of the child. The presence of doubt would have subverted any work of the Holy Spirit. So Jesus took His closest associates – Peter, James and John – plus Jairus and his wife, and I have an image of Him frog-marching everybody else out of the house. He could not allow the faith of the people with Him to be polluted by doubt.
It’s a bit like the story of Hezekiah’s army, facing the Rabshakeh sent by the King of Assyria. Faced with his paint-peeling rant, the army obeyed their king’s orders: “Answer him not.” (Isaiah 36:21)
Some years ago, I lost my job at age 47 — a time of life when prospects are limited. The Lord, in His mercy, placed people around me who supported my faith that I would bounce back, and I was able to turn to them at times when others — some of them my nearest and dearest — were doubting. Spoiler alert: I did bounce back. And more.
So can you.
If you’re faced with one of those faith tests, that spiritual gut-check time when you need a miracle to get you through something, don’t let doubt — and show it the door if it shows up. It’s inevitable that people – even well-meaning people – will try to “make you see reason” or “temper” your expectations. That’s doubt. Don’t even bother answering it: just quietly, and respectfully, set yourself apart and don’t abide that kind of talk until the miracle comes through.