Recognize Faith, Wherever It Is Found
By Deb Crowley of Charlotte, MI, USA
And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.”… When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant in good health. —Luke 7:6–7, 9–10 NRSV, adapted
By all rights, he was a dead man. A lifetime of alcohol and tobacco abuse had left his body weak and worn out. He developed heart problems, lung problems, liver problems, and nearly died several times. His employer forced him to retire early. What had been a menial income became even smaller on disability payments. Debts mounted, and it seemed life was spiraling out of control. His doctor gave him a few months to live if he did not stop drinking and smoking.
He wasn’t a churchgoing man, but his wife had faith. Though she was mistreated, and money was a constant worry, she stayed in the marriage while those in church prayed for healing. The elders visited the ailing man; he didn’t much like “preachers,” but they visited and built a relationship. Though he wouldn’t accept the sacrament of laying on of hands for the sick, he allowed them to pray for him.
He finally grasped the reality of the doctor’s prediction and quit smoking and drinking. He had done the damage, but he knew continued bad habits would speed his death. An MRI showed massive clots in one arm and in his neck. The prognosis was not good since surgery with his weak heart was risky. The night before the surgery, the pastor visited and prayed. After the prayer, the man told his wife, “I am healed.”
The next morning he entered the hospital for pre-surgery tests. His liver enzymes were normal, and the doctors found no clots—clots that clearly had been visible on an X-ray. Today, he no longer looks like a man near death. He has gained weight, exercises more, and turns off the television to devour books!
This beloved brother still does not go to church, but he has a powerful testimony of a gracious God who healed his body and soul. His story reminds the church family that sitting in the pews on Sunday is not a marker of one’s worth. God hears and honors prayers of faith.
Great faith in a great God does not always guarantee physical curing or a miraculous healing. We live in the mystery of a Creator who continues to express love, compassion, and blessing to all God’s creation. What will be God’s next surprise?
Prayer for Peace
Mysterious God, you have asked the love of our poor hearts, without guarantees of rewards we might expect. We give you our love with faith that you love us unconditionally—a blessing indeed.
Spiritual Practice: Time with God
Sit quietly and let your breathing become calm and deep. Ask God’s Spirit to rest on you. See or sense the Spirit anointing you in the form of light, a dove, wind, color, or other images that might come. Ask to become aware of God’s love. Listen to the ways God wants to flow from your heart as living water. Give thanks that your name is beloved, that our name is Community of Christ.
Today, God, I will be blessed to be a blessing to others.