I had a very brief conversation about healing the other night, with a lady I had never before talked to. Though it was short, it brought me back to all the times in my life I have had similar conversations. I think the subject of healing is one I am always going to struggle with in my life…and not because I have a disease that the Lord currently has not released me from…but because I worry that somehow if I don’t figure it out I will offend the heart of God.
I am far from understanding a lot of things in this life, especially this, but that doesn’t mean the Lord is silent on the issue when I seek him over this matter. I’m going to be brave and share some of the things I have learned/felt/thought/experienced, etc. where this is concerned.
When I was in Australia in 2004 the group of people our CTI team was working with were adamant that we should have one night where everyone gathered around me and prayed for my healing. I was fine with that…I’m always blessed when the Lord lays it on someone’s heart to pray for me. This prayer session was over 2 hours long….and I have to admit, it was one of the more uncomfortable for me.
One reason why it was uncomfortable was because people were speaking things that I do not necessarily agree with. They were telling me things like, “you need to believe that you are healed and walk in that…if you don’t walk in it then it can’t be true”. I have issues with that because that implies that I am in control of the situation and that I can earn a blessing by my works. I don’t think things work like that…even healings.
Another reason that I felt uncomfortable though, was more because I had to face some really serious verses in the Bible and ask God what they mean for me. In the sea of prayer that was spoken, the one that sticks out in my mind is, “God, your word says that by your stripes we are healed…and we just claim that over Gretchen tonight…right now Lord!”
Now, I really struggled with this because it’s true…the Word clearly says that He was bruised for our transgressions…and that we are healed by his wounds. The Word also says that if we ask for anything in Jesus’ name we will receive it. So if the Word says that I’ve already been healed because He’s already been broken, and I’m asking for it to be so in my life…why am I still sick? Where is the disconnect? What am I doing wrong?
These are things that I had already asked a million times in my life before but were weighing so heavily on me at that moment. In was then, in the noise of 20 different voices speaking out and dozens of hands holding me down in the middle of the prayer-circle…that the Lord spoke to me.
And this is something I will never, ever forget; He just began to show me that His wounds have accomplished a much greater feat than healing me of Cystic Fibrosis…they have saved me from the depths of eternal separation from my Creator. And that is the greatest healing. My soul is no longer broken or void…it has been made whole again through the blood of Christ. This is just a body that I walk around in. This is just flesh. It will always be broken and ruined in some way…even if I am healed from CF. This world is fallen, along with everything in it. I’m not meant to be flawless here. I never will be flawless here. If it’s not CF, it will surely be something else.
Please note that I am not saying that the Lord does not heal anymore; or that His desire is to have everyone keep praying and praying for healing only to ignore them. No. I believe God heals today…but I also believe that it doesn’t always look like what we expect it to.
After that experience, the Lord has so graciously brought me to such a different place. It might sound crazy but…I don’t care…the words of the Apostle Paul really resonate with me when he says, “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong” because in weakness we see the Lord for how powerful He really is.
I do not know the reason for things like Cystic Fibrosis, or MS, or Down syndrome, or Cancer…or whatever it is. And I’m sure there are a hundred different reasons that we would not even think about them, but lately I’ve been thinking about this:
What if one of the reasons for this kind of suffering is for other people to see the Love of Christ in and around us?
Stay with me here…I’ll explain myself…
If I’m sick and need to be taken to the hospital and one of my co-workers drives me 2.5 hours and then stays with me so I’m not alone…that’s Love! That’s a Godly Love.
If someday I need a lung transplant and my sister gives me part of her lung so that I can live (which all of my sisters continually say that they are fully prepared to do so)…that’s Love!
If a woman has MS and her husband stands by her, taking care of her and cherishing her until the end of her days…That’s Love!
A mother who patiently takes care of her son or daughter with Down Syndrome…that’s Love!
All these acts are So loving….it’s the kind of love that the world sees and says, “Wow, I couldn’t do that…how do they do it day in and day out?” That’s Godly Love.
Jesus himself said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
What if suffering and disease and hardship is not to punish us for unbelief but to draw us into a practice of Love?