In Matthew 9:28 Jesus asks the two blind men, “Do you believe I am able to do this?”
This question that Jesus asks is the question we so often ask. Is God able to do this?
Faith is an often misunderstood concept in christian circles. But one cannot deny that Jesus said it was essential as a condition for Him to heal us.
Jesus says to the two blind men “according to your faith be it done unto you.”
What is faith? it is the orienting of our will and desire toward christ, which facilitates the healing of our soul's faculties which are ill.
It must be more than a simple desire to be healed or free from pain or to get something from God.
Faith is seeing and pursuing spiritual realities before the experience of them.
Saint Clement of Alexandria said, “faith is a voluntary anticipation”
There is in this equation of faith both a strong desire of our will, and a fervent hope in God's goodness and faithfulness.
Evagrius said, “Faith involves continuous desire and above all the will.”
To exercise faith our desire must be God's desire. God cares about the eternal. And God sees this temporal world as a means to His great end - our eternal union with Him through Jesus Christ.
So faith must be oriented toward the healing of the soul. And often times when this happens the body will be healed also.
How hard it is to see the sickness of the soul when the body is screaming for attention. But the Church teaches that it is the soul that needs to return to its original health, for it is the key to us finding our true identity. It is the soul and its powers that need to be reoriented toward their creator, for the world has lured them into sin.
This process must begin with our own self knowledge. It is self love that keeps faith from germinating within our souls. We love self above all. We don't believe God because it would mean that our precious self would not be catered to and loved above all else.
Our unbelief stems from the ignorance we acquire when we allow our fallen reason to dictate our view of God.
St. John Carpathus said, “Faith cures man of the illness of unbelief”.
Faith cures our unbelief because our unbelief is rooted in the great division within our soul.
Fr. John Romanides says that we really have two choices when it comes to faith:
1. We can exercise a faith of acceptance. This is a faith which originates within the fallen reason and intellect. This is when we believe something rationally, but not enough to heal us. James says that even the demons have this kind of faith:
James 2:19: "You believe that God is one! You do well! the demons also believe, and they shudder."
2. Or we can exercise an inner faith, or a living faith. This faith is a gift of god. We must seek Jesus for it with all our heart and he will grant this faith to us.
Inner faith is rooted in an experience of grace in the heart. It is a vision from God in the heart in which the Holy Spirit enables a person to see as God sees. This vision moves our will to seek Christ Jesus.
Theodoret of Cyrus said, “Through faith all false understandings that were in the soul and infecting it, are eliminated so as to make room for divine ones.”
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov said, "Faith is the door to God."
Ultimately we have to come to the understanding that we are sick and we are enslaved and that only faith can free us. The way we think about God and thus all our motives, thoughts, and actions are tainted by our divided and misguided faith.
The weapon of faith attacks the root cause of illness of soul and body – sin and doubt – and restores us to the life of the Holy Spirit in the temple of our hearts.
As this faith takes root in our soul, true spiritual health becomes our existence and purpose, and we begin to sense that God is moving to heal our souls. We have tasted and seen the goodness of God's grace.
Faith is nurtured and grown within the historic, Apostolic church. This is the faith "once for all delivered to the saints". Faith must stand courageously on the truth of God for its foundation. How challenging this is because the world is filled with lies and temptations and seems to pull us toward it with great force.
There is a great danger that our faith can become divided by the world, and thus Satan gains a great victory.
St. Barsanuphius: “He who is hesitant in faith is conquered for this reason by sickness.”
James 1:6–8 says, "...but ask in faith, without any doubting, for whoever doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the lord. This is being double-minded, unstable in every way.
The Holy Fathers call this imperfect, divided faith dipsychia. This sick faith occurs when we allow our hearts to be divided between God and the world.
Unbelief slowly creeps into our heart through the slow and steady and deceptive pull of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Little compromises begin to form cracks in the wall of our souls, as we begin to "enjoy" the playground of sin.
Soon we may begin to feel quite distant from the Lord Jesus. We fail spiritually over and over, and lack intimacy with Jesus in prayer. A despondency and discouragement may lead us to question God and His work in our life.
The root cause of this may be traced back to our unwillingness to give ourselves completely to Christ and trust only in Him. We cannot know faith without obedience and love.
We need only look to the life of Jesus in order to find the foundation of our faith. Jesus loved people - all people. And he loves you and me.
St. Barsanuphius says, “If one has faith in him who has come to heal every sickness & infirmity in the multitude, he is capable of healing not only bodily illnesses, but also those of the inner man.”
What would happen today if we believed that this same Jesus who walked in the pages of Scripture was also desiring to walk with us? What if we believed that faith is the gift of God and that he longed to give this gift to us?
Theodoret of Cyrus said, “God comes to the aid of those who desire to be treated by giving them faith.”
Jesus loves to give faith to those who love Him completely, holding nothing back. This is why Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. Do we really want Jesus to give us this faith?
James 2:26 says, “faith without works is dead”
To be real and genuine, faith must be a reorienting of our lives to God’s life.
This is why St. Ignatius Brianchaninov says that "without self denial a person is not capable of faith."
If we are not being healed and God seems distant today, why don't we try to stop blaming God and doubting His goodness. Why don't we look at our own heart, and the selfish desires that reign there. These sinful passions are what keep God from coming and giving us the faith that can heal us. This is painful, but so important.
St. Macarius says faith comes when we love Jesus purely and supremely: “Unless a man comes to the lord…and petitions him with assurance of faith, he finds no cure. Why was it that they (the blind men) were at once cured on believing, while we have not yet seen truly in a clear manner, and have not been cured of the hidden affections?... It is because of our unbelief, because of our divided mind, because we do not love him with all our heart, and do not really believe him. let us then believe him, and come to him in truth, that he may speedily work in us the true cure.”
May God have mercy on our souls and help us to see our own hearts as they truly are so that we may be healed. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.