But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”2 Kings 5:13 MSG
Perhaps my greatest lack of faith in the last 20 years was not believing that my mom could be healed. A decade ago, we learned she had kidney cancer, and a few short years later, we learned her kidney cancer had progressed to stage 4. Stage 4 kidney cancer is incurable. The 5-year survival rate for people with stage 4 renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) is 12%. My mom’s life had a marked end-date, and together we waited for her health to deteriorate.
I didn’t believe my mom could be healed.
But my dad did, and his stubborn faith infuriated me. I seethed inside. I wanted to shout at him, “God doesn’t just DO that anymore!” Instead, I smiled and sighed, “I’d like to believe that could happen, but I just don’t see a way.” My dad’s faith in a miracle felt like denial, and in some ways it was. He continued to live as if my mom’s life didn’t have an expiration date.
Although my dad’s posture towards my mom hardly changed, my mom’s diagnosis rocked my world. How long had I taken her health and life for granted? Not so any longer. The reality of my mom’s mortality—perhaps imminent—jolted me out of a slumber. Everything we had put off until tomorrow moved to today. If we don’t go to Maine now, will we ever? If we don’t go on this cruise together, will we ever? If we don’t go to Savannah this year, will we ever?
My dad prayed for and believed in my mom’s physical healing. I confess that I did not pray this way. I prayed for a different kind of healing. I prayed for spiritual health, for deeper relational connection, for a miracle of love to penetrate and heal relationships in spite of physical disease. The disease was a given, an immovable and irrefutable fact that we would live with the rest of her life.
I am like the man in Mark 9:14-29 who asks Jesus to help heal his son “if you can.”
“‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:24 NIV).
How can it be so simple? This is the same cry of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. You want me to just do this one simple thing? You want me to just believe? You want me to just have faith?
I do believe, generally speaking, but help me in this particular way because I do not believe that this can move. I doubt this can be healed. The root of my disbelief isn’t in God’s power, it’s in God’s love. Why do we deserve God’s miraculous cure when so many others suffer and die? Why me? Why us?
But also, why not us? Why not us in the suffering, and why not us in the blessing?
“Lord, help me overcome my unbelief!”
It’s been exactly one year since my mom called me to tell me the news. “The doctor says the cancer is gone!” she cried, and I cried, joyful, relieved, unbelieving tears. “How could this be?” I said. “How could this be? I never hoped this could happen.”
This coming weekend, we will celebrate the God who brings dead things back to life. We celebrate the God of redemption, the God of forgiveness, the God who sees our unbelief and loves us anyway. The God of restoration. The God of resurrection.
Whenever I begin to doubt God’s love, I remember that God so loved the world that he not only saves the lost and heals the broken, he also gives his own life for our sake so that we might live.
I believe. I believe. I believe!
Points of Reflection
- Do you believe in miracles?
- How does your belief in miracles impact your relationship with God and your relationship with others?
For the Kids
- How do you think Naaman was able to be cured in the story today?
- Do you believe that miracles happen? Have you experienced a miracle?
Even despite this and other miracles in my life, I still experience doubts, despite believing God is able to heal, physically and otherwise. If you are like me, spend time confessing to the Lord those same words as the father in Mark 9—”I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Maybe you are more like Nahaam’s servants, with the gift of faith and encouragement that all things are possible, even this simple thing. If so, find someone whose faith is weak in this area and pray with them. Pray fervently for healing. Finally, if you’ve experienced a miracle in your life, tell your story! May others be filled with awe and wonder at God’s tremendous healing power and great love.
I’m the kind of person who wants a logical, rational explanation for things. I want proof. I want to be able to reason out whether a thing is possible, which is why it took me so long to be able to have faith in Jesus. Faith requires trusting, even when the whole is and will never be fully known. Still, I needed evidence. Over time, the experience of God’s love and work in my life conquered the cerebral desire to know everything and to rest in the love of God in addition to the evidence I had acquired to support my beliefs. One of the great theologians and apologists of the last century is C.S. Lewis. Recently, I read his book, Miracles. If you’re the type who needs the logical, philosophical, analytical argument about whether miracles are even possible, this is the book for you.