“The LORD is my light and my salvation –
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life –
Of whom shall I be afraid?
I am still confident of this;
I will see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and take heart
And wait for the LORD.”
Psalm 27:1 & 13
I do wonder what the church in general believes about healing today. I’ve heard it said that healing only happened in the new testament when Jesus was there and immediately afterwards when his church was being established. Why the cut-off point at the end of the NT remains a mystery to me.
I’ve heard the preachers who claim to have a ‘healing ministry’ and demand vast audiences as they ‘pray in the Spirit’ and people fall down. Hey, I’ve fallen down when someone prayed for me, it’s a wonderful feeling of God’s power. But I didn’t see too many miracles, just the same people and same conditions left the meeting as went in. But just maybe, some of us were given a boost of faith. Maybe God would heal eventually?
I’ve also read the testimonies of miraculous healing. There seems to be a lot more in countries where they aren’t bound by so much stifling tradition, as in Britain. Not just miracles claimed by ‘faith healers’ but by people who have had an encounter with the Lord and he has healed them, not in a big show, but just healed them.
There’s sometimes discussion in the groups I associate with. Where people with disabilities and their carers dip their toes into the issue. But mostly it’s ignored. No-one wants to upset anyone or get it wrong.
I once went to a church where we prayed and prayed and prayed with all our hearts for someone to be healed of cancer. But he died. We were devastated and some never recovered from that.
Why would God not heal him? Does God heal? Will God heal?
I only know what the Bible says and what I have experienced myself. Jesus healed and healed and healed. It was a defining element of his ministry. His disciples healed. Jesus says he is the same always and that he will always be with us and never forsake us. He says he will build his church – surely that means he continues his ministry from heaven. Why wouldn’t that include healing?
I believe it does.
We can argue about the nature of that healing. Is it physical? Is it spiritual? I see both in Jesus’s work. Take the paralysed man for example. His friends brought him to Jesus through the roof of the house and laid him before Jesus. (I like that, other people bringing those who can’t get to him themselves.) But what he did first was forgive his sins. It wasn’t that he was disabled because of his sin, but Jesus shows us that at the heart of every person, whether sick, disabled or not, is sin – that we have ignored and turned our backs on God our Father and creator. Then to prove he had the authority to do that, he also healed him physically. Jesus healed and healed those who came to him. I am sure they were looking for a cure to what ailed them. I’m sure they also received forgiveness of their sins and a new life in Christ. Who couldn’t fail to follow him? And yet, we know because of his trial and death, that many of those who had followed him, also rejected him.
So, what’s my story. When I was 21 I became a Christian. My teenage years were messy and traumatic for me and by that time I was in a relationship that wasn’t good for me (or him), I was depressed and had no friends. I’d lost the will to finish the last year of my teacher training and could not see a way ahead. Some things that led me to assess that my life was a complete mess and not worth living, were self-inflicted. Some things were circumstances and events that happened around me.
But I was sick. Not only had I deep depression, I had so many ‘issues’ that had damaged my thinking and ability to deal with life it was like I carried a huge rucksack of guilt, shame and desperation around with me all the time.
When the day came that I gave my life to the Lord, it was dramatic. I confessed my guilt and sin (I had no trouble accepting that!) and accepted Jesus as my Saviour. And then, a feeling rushed through me from my head to my toes…an actual ‘whooshing’ like being washed clean. And it was wonderful.
But for some reason I still carried my backpack of previous issues around with me. I wouldn’t let go of my burden, even though I knew Jesus wanted to take it away from me. It was like it was fused onto my back and to take it off would rip my skin off with it. The fear of the pain that would cause prevented me from fully surrendering my pain to Jesus.
And this is what I learned about Jesus. He is infinitely gentle. He surrounded me with loving people who would understand and not judge me. Then he took me through my backpack of burdens, and one by one, slowly and gently, he healed them.
Sometimes it was through going forward for prayer. Something the preacher had said something that triggered in my spirit that it was time to bring that issue, or that pain to the Lord. And as I did, I received his healing. I remember crying a lot in those days but I knew I was released. He sorted out some of the easier things first, like my involvement in spiritualism. Easily sorted. Prayer, and the residue was gone.
Sometimes it was through wonderful friends who took the time to sit with me, share God’s word and pray for me. He sent along one particular friend who’d also gone through some of the same difficulties I had had. And years of meeting up for tea, cake and tears healed us both of so much. And deepened our faith as we felt Jesus’s Spirit reaching down deep into our lives. And healing us. He repaired broken hearts and family relationships. He did miracles which we could have never imagined.
Sometimes it was just me and Jesus. In quiet times, whilst I prayed, or read the Bible (particularly the Psalms, Job and Ecclesiastes) his Spirit would gently whisper to me, “Are you ready to heal this issue?” and I confess, sometimes I resisted. The pain was too deep and I didn’t want to go there. I’m a very emotional person. I knew there were some things that would make me raw. I knew there were some things that were so ingrained in my personality because I had worked so hard to protect myself, that I didn’t know how to be any different.
And it was that thought that gave me an insight into healing. Jesus would only heal what I asked or allowed him to. He never forced anything on me. When I refused, it was because I feared the pain returning. I also feared living without that pain. Silly isn’t it, but the pain had shaped who I was. How would I know how ‘to be’ without it? I feared I’d lose my identity. I was who I was because of the things that had happened to me.
When I accepted it felt awful. With a heavy heart I surrendered to Jesus my last core of pain. It was the big one. It was at the root of my struggles with depression, identity and coping with day to day life. Oh, but he was so gentle. He reached into my soul and pulled out the difficult memories that I didn’t want to face. I cried. I felt the physical pain in my very core. But it came out. And then it was gone.
And then I was lost. For a while I knew I was different, but I didn’t know how ‘to be’. And for a while I couldn’t ‘feel’ much at all. But slowly the feeling came back, in prayer and contemplation of God’s word. And instead of a constant emotional rollercoaster, I now was more of a bobbing boat. The ups and downs were much less severe and unpredictable. And now when the waves threaten to get choppy, a call out to my Lord, quietens them. And they still. And they still do.
I have learned to live as a healed person. I am different. I don’t forget what I was, it helps me empathise with others. But I hope by sharing this I can help others ask and surrender to the healing that Jesus offers. Whether physical or emotional, he is gentle and humble. He loves us beyond what we could ever imagine. And he’s in the business of miracles. However long they take.
I realise this doesn’t answer any questions about when God doesn’t seem to heal. I am no way near to understanding that. I am praying the Lord will teach me what I need to know and give me the grace to accept what I can’t know. And to trust him still.