12 months…12 ministries HEALING 2 (#9)
• DISCIPLESHIP • WORSHIP • PREACHING • EVANGELISM • PASTORAL CARE
• SERVING THE POOR. • DELIVERANCE • HEALING 1 • H E A L I N G 2
• CHILDREN & YOUTH Ministries • SENIORS Ministry • MENS & WOMENS Ministries
by Peter Biggs
Expectations emotions & faith
Healing, whether ours or that of a loved one involves our whole being. Our thought life is absorbed, there is confusion (where is God?!), frustration and pain with often endless questions as to prognosis.
Into this space we come to God… having faith has to have a component of ‘hope’. Hope is a risky thing. What if, after asking… God does not heal? Then I’ll have the additional problem of belief in God. I just can’t grapple with that question right now?
Jim’s little girl
A friend, Jim, has a little girl born February 2016. It was a normal birth. She developed well, then last December she developed a limp. It got worse she avoided standing and one knee was swollen. Jim shares, “We took her to ER, they X rayed her – nothing. But blood work revealed ‘inflammation’… we were referred to a paediatrician. “We were scared, it’s hard not to think of the worst.” During the next 2-3 weeks both knees and an ankle swelled. “Alot of what was challenging was simply not knowing,” he says. Eventually at Children’s Hospital they find out she has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. The prognosis uncertain. He is sad for the potential loss of normal life for his daughter.
Treatment is to try a range of different medications. Then her eyesight became affected. Jim is honest, “I’ve found it difficult to pray because of how emotional I felt. Some people pray out of their emotions.” He has found support from his parents and his church community.
[an update – Sept ’18 – since publication she is doing WAY better! – THANK GOD]
What are you praying for?
Are you suffering – challenged by an illness or disability? It is likely that you are praying… but how, and for what? Perhaps a combination of the following:
• The simple plea “God help me!” – we are overwhelmed.the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8
• Your faith is in God guiding the doctor in diagnosis and treatment or ‘in guiding the surgeon’s hand’.
• Your faith may lie in wisdom. Words can and do bring healing the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12. In faith you’ve made an appointment with a Pastor or a Prayer Counsellor. praying, “Lord, I believe you will give ….. a word for me – help me recognize it”. It may be a word that raises hope and brings comfort.
This must certainly be a time of complete honesty. We all have hidden issues. You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom. Psalm 51:6
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you might be healed. James 5:16
• Direct miraculous healing. Perhaps God is waiting for you to express faith by a call for the Elders of the church (James 5). This might involve coming forward in a service for prayer. The writer once had a couple (re)introduce themselves to him “You probably don’t remember us but some years back. We came forward for prayer as we were unable to have a baby. You prayed and she got pregnant the next month! You would not have known.”
John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement said, “Christian signs and wonders are beyond rationality, but they serve a rational purpose: to authenticate the gospel. The gospel is opposed to the pluralistic lie that says all religious experience is equally valid. Signs and wonders validate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His lordship over every area of our lives.”
Sin & sickness
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you might be healed. James 5:16:
Does sin have a role? “When we talk about healing our past we are talking about the consequences of sin – sins that have been committed against us, and sins that we have committed. If we confess, aren’t our sins forgiven? Yes, but we still live with the consequences,” says Judith MacNutt.
In the case of the cripple lowered through the roof, Jesus pronounced ‘Your sins are forgiven’. Perhaps the man wrongly thought his disability was because of his sins. Perhaps his disability actually did have to do with his sins.
In other cases there is no mention of sin, simply a pronouncement of healing, as in the woman with issue of bleeding who touched Jesus garment. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Luke 8:43
Clean & dirty wounds
Some wounds of the heart – grivious though they may be (such as in the loss of a child) will heal if left open to the air and sun – that is God’s comfort and wisdom. ‘Scar tissue’ will remain, decades later tears may still come, but with it the comfort of God (a comfort a Pastor can reinforce).
Other wounds can become ‘infected’.
Anger and bitterness are never far from hurt. Add to this unforgiveness perhaps leading to relational estrangement, and healing is compounded. It may be critical that wise, prayerful counsel from a Pastor/Counsellor take time to help a person avoid this setting in.
If this has set in then the ministry of ‘inner healing’ prayers from those gifted in such is critical. In researching this article, the writer heard of physcial ailments (arthritis, migranes, fatigue) that have disappeared after dealing with inner wounds. Which leads us to…
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Psalm 146
The term ‘inner healing’ usually refers to emotional trauma in an otherwise reasonably healthy person. In his important book, Healing, Francis MacNutt writes about our need for inner healing:
“Inner healing is indicated whenever we become aware that we are held down in any way by the hurts of the past.” He goes on to say, “We are deeply affected not only by what we do – our own sins and mistakes – but by what happens to us through the sins of others, and the evil in the world (original sin). Our deepest need is for love, and if we are denied love as infants or as children, or anywhere else along the line, it may affect our lives at a later date and rob us of our peace, of our ability to love, and of our ability to trust other people – or God.”
What if there is no healing?
John Wimber used to say that when they pray for people God always blesses them even if he may not heal the sickness.
We cling to the Scriptures… the promises of God:
1.“Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5
2. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11
3 “Cast your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” 1 Peter 5
In each of these states (mourning, anxiety and weariness) a promise is given – it may or may not involve the taking away of these common challenges.
For instance the loss(es) that have caused mourning likely remain, but the comfort of God is more than sufficient – indeed even with underlaying mourning our eventual state is one of blessing.
Similarly the burdens we carry may be taken away by Him, they may not – the ‘rest’ that comes from directly from Jesus will be given.
Perhaps anxiety can be fully healed – for some this is the case, for others it remains their weakness but can be ‘proportioned’ when God is brought into our thought life.
In each case, faith needs to be active and decisive – we need to ‘believe into’ His promise when consciously assailed by these things.
The final healing…
Of course, no human being can ultimately avoid death. Our bodies are decaying, and at some point it might be right to prepare a person for death rather than to pray for healing. This is when prescence of a Pastor can be helpful.
Thank God for the hospice movement that gives dignity to the terminally ill and is another outworking of Jesus’ commission to take care of the sick.