I believe absolutely that God heals. But I don’t believe that he must, that he should, or that he necessarily will.
This is a tough question for Christians to deal with; and one that confronts me again and again. I’m hesitant to write about this. I worry that my discussion might be lopsided, or that there might be a gaping hole in my thinking. But my greatest concern is that what I believe (and writing seems to cement belief) might determine the possibility of recovery. There is some truth in that; but it’s a fragile way of thinking, and I wonder if it isn’t the nub of the whole issue? Surely God is much bigger than me.
I once knew a man who had been part of a small church whose pastor had lost the fight with cancer. This Christian group had steadfastly believed in the certainty of their pastor’s healing; so much so that he was finally buried with a bell in his hand, just in case he needed to announce his return to life at the last moment. Although on one level that story might speak of tenacious faith, I think it’s actually a terrible tragedy of misplaced faith. I can’t imagine how his family and friends would find peace again.
When I first read research that concluded that Christians have just as many motor vehicle accidents (and slightly more divorces) as those without faith I was taken aback. I was a lot younger then, and it just wasn’t what I was expecting the article in Christianity Today would say. But since then I have seen exactly this in many settings. As a pastor I’ve seen so much triumph, and so much trial. As a father my life seems as taxing and as rewarding as the next man’s. When we were building and farming we faced much the same round of ups and downs as everyone else. More recently I spent a week or so in a Neurological Ward where the Nursing Unit Manager was a very gifted person, and a sincere Christian. Discussing who meets with tragedy and who escapes it she said, “I see everyone here, there is no difference”.
Christians are not exempt from the trials of life, but they are never alone. Faith is no guarantee of an easy life; in fact I wonder if it isn’t more like a beacon, drawing the very opposition over which it triumphs. The characters of scripture seem to me to confirm this fact: by and large they faced insurmountable odds in life, and often ended up looking to a more distant horizon. Their hope was not finally for this world, but for the next.
In the Gibson Desert as an 18-year-old I was bemused by the dramatic tale a missionary brought back from her 2000km round trip to Kalgoorlie. It was a pretty rough and lonely track, much of it dirt, and Thelma had picked up a flat tire. Soon enough a police patrol came along and offered to change the wheel. It wasn’t until the policeman got down on the ground that the true crisis emerged: a fuel line was blocked and in the desert heat the petrol had boiled, forcing the tank to swell and bulge dangerously under the pressure. “Hallelujah!” she declared. “Thank you God for giving us a flat tyre!” My cynical response was to question why God didn’t simply unblock the fuel line and cut out the middle man. I thought the whole episode was silly. To my shame I sneered at this story for many years, until it dawned on me. It’s the journey God values, not just the destination. The explosive fuel tank wasn’t a disaster needing divine intervention as much as it was an opportunity for God to turn up, to get involved, to become flesh again and walk with the people he loves. If you’re looking for God you’ll always find him in the detail. He’s alongside us, getting his hands dirty. He wants nothing more than to be with us. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” says John 1.
Where, then, is God’s blessing? And where are the miracles? Ashley Barker describes shalom, God’s peace, as “a radical realignment to the way things are”. It seems to me that faith in Christ isn’t a way to change things; it’s the way to travel through things. The Blessing of God is seen in the extraordinary way he cares, protects, provides and loves us on the way. I encounter this blessedness constantly; most profoundly in the reassurance of peace, but wonderfully in a thousand other details of daily life.
I for one won’t hang my faith on something as fragile as my own future. My love for God will never be based on his performance, just as his love is certainly not based upon mine. Nor will I accept the hopelessness that results from having hope in healing alone. My hope is based in knowing God’s love no matter what the future holds.
God is indeed much bigger than me.
5 thoughts on “The God who Heals”
You are going to have to start writting tonight to top that effort next Sunday!!…. No pressure!
Gooday Rod – I have recently moved to Grafton and work at Juvenile Justice. As you know, I owned and operated a Pool Hall in Wagga Wagga for the last six years and I am a trained youth counsellor. I was saved on October 12th, 1997 and have had my hand up for Jesus ever since. At that time I was a pensioner and was told that I would never work again. God had other ideas! I ride a Harley these days and am very interested in being involved with a Christian MC. There are several Harley riders in my church (Riverside Church, South Grafton) and we are all keen and committed. I have made enquirys about God Squad and Steve Grace suggested Black Sheep. What is your thought? Anyhow, the reason for this message is to thank you for your brilliant blogs. Your most recent struck a chord – I agree that Faith is like a beacon, the bigger the faith, the bigger the enemy. But I remind myself of the Christian motto – NO FEAR! I believe this life is just part of the journey. Keep on writing! Love & Blessings – John
Well done Roderick, I have enjoyed reading this blog the most, admire your wisdom and praise God that He is a God of PEACE!
Hi Rod, I really enjoyed reading your Blog. God does order our steps and the future IS in his hands. I agree it is all about the journey and God wants us to be in relationship with him. Great strength often comes from Adversity although we all struggle with this. Praying God will continue to Strengthen you and you draw from his Peace daily. Looking forward to reading your next blog. Chris DB
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