Cancer. It’s spreading to every circle of friends I know. And yes, we can treat it, but only to a certain level. Ebola. New strains of viruses. Just when medical technology seems to cure nearly everything, a flash of new diseases pop up. Wouldn’t it be nice if doctors could just snap their fingers and cure things, and skip all the paperwork?
It surprised me that the Nazarene Articles of Faith have one section dedicated completely to Faith Healing. In the past, I would have scoffed at this. God doesn’t work like that anymore, at least, not around here! But recently I have been confronted by the power of prayer, and a challenge to my supposed expertise of “how God works.” So this was an interesting study.
There are many examples of miraculous healing in the Bible. One, in 2 Kings 5, tells about Naaman, a Syrian General. He had the contagious and incurable horror of the day: leprosy. Naaman heard that God could heal and traveled to Israel. Elisha the prophet did not come out to meet him proclaiming God’s power with a flash of healing lightning that struck off the leprosy. Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman to take a seven-dip bath in the river. Seriously? And in the simplicity of that healing, God got all the glory.
Jesus was known for healing crowds of all ailments along with preaching the good news of God’s kingdom (Matthew 4, Mark 5). And it did not matter how important the person was, or how sick they were. The Apostles received this power as well, and healed many, especially those with faith to be healed (Acts 3).
So what about the modern Christian? Paul lists healing in 1 Corinthians 12 along with the rest of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to believers, based on the needs He sees in that community. But Paul also wrote about a time when he prayed for healing (2 Corinthians 12). God responded,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
How would you respond? Paul stepped away from the pain, the confusion, the fear and wrote, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
James 5 is the best-known passage about “faith healing,” but in a recent study I learned that it focuses more on a spiritual transparency than physical healing through a pastor’s prayer. And James even quotes the experience of Job who suffered without an explanation of why for a long time.
These verses convince me that God works in ways outside of normal life. And yet He uses regular people, and regular circumstances as well as flashy events. Every time, the healing points back to God, and His plan and His kingdom. As much as I want all my friends to be instantly cured of the long-term pain that tears their lives, is that the best for them? Can I trust God enough to say, “Your will be done?”
God, I am not the sick one. But it hurts to see all the families worn down by bills and doctors visits and hope dashed again and again. You could take the pain away – You have that ability. But You also see on a different scope than us. God, our hearts are weak, jumping to easy solutions. Please give me a heart to trust Your long-term plan, even if it includes a lot of pain. Please heal my friends, God, and bless their families in this struggle, even if the way You do that is not obvious to me. And help me trust You to be my strength in weakness. Thank You for Your love. To You be the glory, God. Amen.