I remember several discussions where someone asked why it is that sometimes blessings are effectual and other times they aren’t or why sometimes prayers get answer and other times they don’t. My typical response is that it is a matter of faith. If you bless someone to be healed and they aren’t, there are several possibilities: 1) You lack the faith and don’t have the gift of healing; 2) you were actually not trying to heal but were trying to be prophetic. Alas, you lacked the faith to have the gift of prophecy; 3) the person you blessed lacked the faith to be healed. The common response is that these possibilities aren’t acceptable because it is essentially blaming the victim. Yep, it is. So what?
I like Peter. He sees the Lord on the water and after Jesus tells them not to be afraid, Peter (and I can just imagine what is going through his head) responds:
Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. (and he gets this Calvin cartoonish grin on his face)
He walks for a little bit, but things start to get a little out of hand and he begins to sink. Peter knows where to turn and the Lord lifts him up to safety. Jesus doesn’t hesitate to get his jab in though:
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
The scriptures are replete with examples of people attempting the miraculous; but, lacking the faith sufficient to the task, they fail miserably. Joseph Smith was a big fan of the weighting the results of faith over outward exercises. After the miraculous healings at the river the following was recorded:
Brother Joseph, while in the Spirit, rebuked the Elders who would continue to lay hands on the sick from day to day without the power to heal them. Said he: “It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick or let them cease to minister the forms without the power.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. pg. 254-255. emphasis in original)
What is wrong with blaming the victim? I confess that I lack faith. There was a time when I had much more. My testimony is greater now. I definitely know much more. But faith is different than belief or knowledge. Faith is the relationship of trust and love we have with Jesus Christ. And just like any relationship, it is dynamic. What would have happened if while an adolescent you asked your wealthy uncle (with whom you never talk) to borrow his Porsche for a date. Response: No. What type of relationship do you need to walk on water? Or to heal cancer? I don’t know, but I have seen it before.
We shouldn’t feel guilty about lacking the faith to heal. We shouldn’t feel guilty that our prayers go un-answered. There is a significant amount of humility to be gained in recognizing what we are.