“Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Luke 5:12b-13, NLT*
Imagine the fervent, desperate hope in the leper’s voice – in his heart.
There was no cure for the disease at the time, and Luke calls it an “advanced case.” He might have been missing fingers, toes… part of his nose.
He believes – he knows – Jesus can heal him.
So he asks. Luke says he begs. There’s no sense of entitlement here. He’s lost all that a long time ago.
Jesus touches him – touches a potentially contagious untouchable. And Jesus heals him. Instantly.
The man is now whole. Clean, as opposed to unclean. Once the priests confirm it, he can go back to his home, his family. He’ll even be happy to go back to work.
Two things stand out to me in this man’s example: his belief and his trust.
He has no doubt that Jesus has the power and authority to heal and cleanse him.
“If You are willing” suggests that he knows not everyone who asks gets healed. Even if he doesn’t know that, we do.
Unbelief can cripple our prayers. Remember the father of the demon-possessed boy? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief”? (Mark 9:24, NLT*) But even believing prayers may be answered with a “no.” Remember how the Apostle Paul’s believing pleas for relief from his “thorn” were denied because it better served God’s Kingdom purposes for the thorn to remain. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
We need to pray “if You are willing, You can…” but we can’t let the “if” become doubt of God’s goodness.
In one sense, of course He’s willing – as in, He doesn’t want to see us hurting, and He loves us. But because He loves us so much, loves the whole planetful of us, sometimes His wisdom chooses to allow an unpleasant situation to continue, for the ultimate good – for us or for others.
“If You’re willing” must never become “If You’re good” or “If You love me” … or even “If I deserve it.” It simply means “You can, so I’m asking, but I don’t know Your full plan.” And we need to trust His heart, however He answers.
Almighty and all-wise God, Your plans and purposes are beyond our understanding, but You have clearly revealed Your heart in Jesus’ life and death. You’ve revealed Your power in His resurrection. If You are willing – if You choose – You can do anything. Forgive us for the times we doubt Your power, and for the times we doubt Your love. Help our unbelief. Teach us to trust You and to live and pray with confidence in Your care.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.