“If Thou Wilt”

Jesus heals the leper,” by Alexandre Bida

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell a simple story of a healing performed by Jesus. A leper approaches Him, worshipping Him, falling on his face, beseeching Him. The leper says, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus reaches out His hand, touches the leper, and says, “I will; be thou clean.” The leper is immediately healed. (See Matthew 8:2-3, Mark 1:40-42, Luke 5:12-13.)

The leper’s declaration to the Savior conveys both uncertainty and certainty:

  1. Uncertainty: “If thou wilt” – I don’t know if you’re willing to heal me.
  2. Certainty: “Thou canst make me clean” – I know you have the power to do so.

Elder Walter F. Gonzalez observed:

The leper did not make his request in a pretentious or demanding manner. His words reveal a humble attitude, with high expectations but also with a sincere desire that the will of the Savior be done. This is an example of the attitude with which we should come unto Christ. We can come unto Christ with the certainty that His desire currently is and always will be the best for our mortal and eternal lives. He has an eternal perspective that we do not have. We must come unto Christ with a sincere desire that our will be swallowed up in the will of the Father, as His was. This will prepare us for eternal life.

The Savior’s Touch,” General Conference, October 2019

I like that interpretation of the leper’s words. Elder Gonzalez assumes that the leper understood that Jesus wanted what was best for him. He wanted to be healed, but he was willing to defer to the Savior’s judgment as to whether it was the right time.

As the brother of Jared approached the Lord with a monumental request, His plea was much longer than the simple statement of the leper, but with the same attitude of humility:

O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires….

And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man.

Ether 3:2, 4

After making his request, the brother of Jared again affirmed, “Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this” (Ether 3:5).

There is something powerful about knowing that God can provide relief from every ailment, and that He is willing to provide the relief we seek, when the time is right.

Elder Gonzalez encouraged us to emulate the leper:

Let us come unto Christ, taking all necessary steps. As we do, may our attitude be one of saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” If we do so, we can receive the Master’s healing touch, alongside the sweet echo of His voice: “I will; be thou clean.”

The Savior’s Touch,” General Conference, October 2019

Today, I will pray in faith for the assistance and relief I need. I will declare my certainty that God can provide the blessings I seek. I will also exercise faith by deferring to His will, recognizing that He knows infinitely more than I. If He withholds a blessing, I will accept His will, believing that He will give me every good thing it its proper time.

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