Friday, November 25, 2016

Exploring the mystery-side of healing

Image result for ambulances
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 "Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."


Here is a question: “why do some people get healed immediately and others later on?” The quick answer to that is: “I don’t know”. This question is related to what I call "the mystery-side of healing". We’ve got to remember that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). God can immediately heal, but he may also decide to heal later or in some cases heal believers in heaven. 

Such questions are common among those who pray for their loved ones to get healed. When my father was alive, he had battled cancer on at least four occasions. Each time he was told by the doctors that he had a particular cancer, he would call the pastor and the pastor and Deacons would anoint him with oil as prescribed in James 5:13-16. Each cancer was different and yet my father's response was the same. 

In one of those instances, my father had a severe tumor of the brain. He was anointed shortly after receiving the prognosis and a short time later went into surgery to remove the tumor. The doctors were shocked to discover that there was no tumor. However, in the other instances where my dad was anointed, the cancers did not go away apart from conventional methods like chemotherapy and radiation. What explanation, if any, could be given for what appears to be a difference in outcome?

What is the right question to ask when facing the mystery side of healing
One could begin by noting that if people were healed immediately, they may not be ready or they may easily stop relying on God. At times the building of faith and trust in God can enable the person to see God’s glory when the healing comes later. On the flip-side, God can heal immediately and thus get the glory. God’s will to heal is not in question. The mystery mainly has to do with "when" He will heal. All we know is that in either situation – God is aiming to be glorified and He is always good no matter what. As Jesus noted about the man born blind in John 9:1-3 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." There are no such things as randomness with God. God has morally sufficient reasons for delaying healing. Timing is everything with God. 

What patterns of healing do we see in Jesus ministry?
In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were people who were healed in stages (Mark 8:22-26) and in the case of Lazarus, he purposefully delayed for the sake of God to reveal His glory (John 11:40). Dr. Adrian Rogers once noted that “God’s delays are not God’s denials”. This is the mystery side of healing. Some erroneously blame the lack of faith. Faith cannot do anything to effect healing. All it can do is receive it. 

The ministry and life of the Apostle Paul had contact with this mystery side of healing
The Apostle Paul for example prayed three times for His ailment to be removed, and yet God did not deliver Him of it. Or again, in 2 Timothy 4:20, we read: “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus”. Are we to blame Paul for lack of faith? Hardly. The only answer we can give in understanding why some people get immediately healed, or later healed or even ultimately healed in heaven, and others don't, is due to the purpose of God. Hence, it is God's purpose that determines when the healing takes place.

How a cell phone can help us grasp this issue of the mystery side of healing
Whenever I travel, my cell phone is ever ready to receive a signal. At times when journeying in a mountainous area, the signal may not be forth coming. However, that does not mean the phone is useless. My phone's operation and readiness to receive does not make the signal travel slower or faster. All it can do is receive the incoming signal whenever it arrives. The signal will come through once I get through the other side. I may not know when the signal may come. I need to be sure to keep the phone on for the sake of receiving the signal. The suggestion is that this is how healing practically works at times. 

Some principles to keep in mind when considering a Biblical view of healing
1. God’s pleasure is to heal.
If this were not the case, the Holy Spirit would not had inspired and moved James to write what he did in James 5:13-16. We can also note on over 20 occasions in the Gospels where people came to Jesus or were brought to Him for healing, not one time does He refuse to heal them. One of the names that God uses in revealing His identity is that of “Jehovah Rapha” – the Lord our healer – in Exodus 15:26. When Jesus came to this world, His mission was: chiefly to provide forgiveness of sins (Luke 19:10); then to defeat the Devil (1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14) and thirdly, to affect healing (see Acts 10:38).

2. God has the power to heal. We must remember that it is the power of Jesus Christ, not faith, that heals (see Luke 5:17 and Acts 3:16).

3. Faith receives the healing (whether God chooses to do it today or later).
Faith does not have any power to heal. All it can do is receive the healing. Faith is the God-given vessel that we have to receive all that He has to offer (John 1:12-13; Eph 2:8-9; James 1:18). We know that faith must be present to receive Jesus immediately in salvation (Romans 10:8-10). In a near parallel way, physical healing operates in a similar fashion. Though there is the mystery-side to healing, asking God to strengthen one's faith, as well as following through with such prescriptions as anointing with oil, and anchor one's rope of faith to the mighty oak of Jesus.  

4. God uses different methods in healing (anointing being but one method). 
The Bible is not against the use of medicine, since the prophet Isaiah used a compound of figs to heal King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:7) and Jesus used mud as a means of healing a man’s blindness (Mark 8:22-26). My mother was a nurse for nearly 40 years and I can testify firsthand as to how God gives medically trained people wisdom to treat the human body. 

At times a simple prayer or saying a word for healing would be used (Luke 7:7). Oftentimes people would be healed by way of someone laying their hands upon them or the sick person simply touching the one in whom God’s power to heal was present (Luke 8:47). These represent some of the major methods used by God in affecting Divine healing.

5. There is a mystery side to healing that we can navigate, even though we do not completely comprehend all its details. 
Although this final principle was the key focus of today's post, it is worth remembering that the Lord knows all about it. We must not grow discouraged nor doubt the goodness and power of God.