Faith Healing – The Need
When people are faced with a serious or debilitating illness, they often consider supernatural healing or faith healing as the final option. Our expectations for divine healing are often placed in a variety of sources which present themselves as the only hope for a miraculous recovery. Some individuals will pursue the avenue of faith healers or those professing to have an “ability to heal.” Objects such as handkerchiefs, religious icons, or pilgrimages to holy sites are said to offer hope to those in desperate circumstances.
When faced with intense suffering, we may even be tempted to doubt the character of God. “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” (Jeremiah 15:18).
Others try to encourage us by confirming that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Yet our suffering presents our greatest challenge to our faith. At some point we may even blame God for allowing our pain to continue. Or we may ask ourselves, “How much more faith do I need to be healed?”
Faith Healing – The Lesson
Our physical and emotional suffering is magnified when we fail to see any possible good resulting from our sickness. When we concentrate on what God can do through our illness, it keep us focused on God, instead of our difficult circumstances. Shortly after I first met Melanie, she invited me to dinner. Melanie has diabetes which has affected her eyesight and her mobility. Over our 10-year friendship, I’ve watched her bring comfort to others with her baskets, filled with their customized contents. “I used to be able to get these done in one or two days, but I guess I’m slowing down a little,” she says with a twinkle in her eye. “God never rushes anything so I’ve learned to work at His pace.” There are days when I know Melanie’s swollen limbs hurt and she pauses for a moment, leaning against a pew to catch her breath. It would be easy for her to pick a seat near the back of the church. But then she’ll see a visitor or a person who needs an encouraging word and off she goes to plant herself next to them.
Like Jesus, Melanie loves reaching out to people. Both are well acquainted with pain and suffering. She was injured in two separate car accidents in which five of her seven siblings were killed. Melanie understands emotional and physical pain that doesn’t dissipate. Yet she reminds me, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn [God’s] decrees” (Psalm 119:71). Melanie treats each day as a learning process and her afflictions as her greatest teacher.
Faith Healing – The End Result
Healing is an act of unmerited mercy from a sovereign God. We do not put faith in faith itself (or men or objects), but rather in the grace and mercy of Jahveh-Ropheka, “God the Healer.” There is no doubt that Jesus cares deeply for us — He suffered and died so that we could live forever in God’s love. His healing doesn’t follow a process that would seem logical to us. Jesus healed blind eyes by applying mud, made from “divine spittle” (John 9:6–7)! Jesus was often unconventional, raising a dead widow’s son out of compassion, not because of her faith (Luke 7:13). Faith is not something we need to “conjure up” in order to be healed. God is ultimately in control of healing. Whatever the outcome, God is always with those who suffer and He understands their every pain and need. The cross reminds us that God always cares. God is offering us a wholeness that is even more perfect than physical or emotional healing. Perfect health is waiting for us in the resurrection. “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17).