One thing you learn early on in this business is that Christians disagree about a lot of things. Life, however, is too short to list them all so I’m going to focus on one that has come to the fore for me this week. Healing.
There are many differences of opinion over the idea of God answering prayer and healing people. There are those who believe things like healing don’t happen anymore. They were just for Bible times. And there are those who believe God can and does cause miraculous healing to happen.
Its that last group I’m interested in today. Now the thing with healing is that there is no empirical proof that it happens. I believe it does but I could not prove it to someone who disagrees. There is much anecdotal evidence from eye witnesses but that can always be argued with. There is occasional scientific evidence of cancers disappearing after prayer and things like that, but that is only proof that it happened, not that God made it happen. Healing is a matter of faith. And that is good. How a cancer is healed is the province of science as far as I am concerned. The why is more important from a faith perspective. You were healed because God loves you.
And that is where the problem can set in. It is very easy for someone who has prayed and been prayed for extensively and not been healed to take away from that situation the idea their faith wasn’t strong enough. Its like a video game, you have to level up a certain number of times before you have enough faith power to get God to defeat your illness.
So what if it’s a difference of opinion between us and God. We live in a world where celebrities and sports people are looked on as the physical peak to aspire to and that cannot help but permeate into our church culture. We see something that doesn’t fit that “norm” and we can want to pray the heck out of it. But what if, at the end of all that prayer, you still have lupus, you are still a wheelchair user, you still have chronic depression or you still… Well you get the picture. What then? Why hasn’t God healed you?
Could it be that our idea of a whole person is different to God’s idea? Could it be that a person’s spiritual wholeness is more important to God than their physical wellness (I’m not saying God doesn’t care about physical wellbeing by the way). Physical healing is wonderful and inspirational when it occurs. It is a demonstration, a manifestation of God’s great power. But when he focuses on healing or growing someone spiritually, that can change worlds. If our focus is too much on healing of physical issues, we risk making those who have long term physical or mental or emotional disabilities feel like second class citizens. That is not our intention but that is an inevitable result of an ablist approach to healing.
If God’s çoncern is spiritual health however. I was listening to an old friend, Amy, speaking on a podcast. Amy was diagnosed with lupus when she was 18, it’s a chronic and debilitating illness that seeks to rule your world. She is a Christian and the daughter of church leaders and she received shed loads of prayer for her healing. Now married with two children she still has lupus but the things God has wrought in her spiritual life are incredible. I cannot do her story justice so I’ll link to the podcast at the end. God made her what she is, a powerful advocate for God’s grace and love, from a position of weakness. Because of her illness she is able to speak into the lives of others living with chronic illness and tell them God loves them how they are.
If you are spiritually and emotionally whole, if you recognise that God loves you exactly how you are then surely that is good. If Christianity is a journey of becoming more like God until we meet with God, maybe we need to let go of our anthropomorphic images of God, stop looking on him as a white, bearded old man in a long robe and take an alternative scriptural view and see Him as the pillar of cloud or the pillar of fire, and consider that the healing God wants most to bring about is spiritual because God is spirit.
Thank you for listening to the ramblings of an old man. All views expressed are entirely my own.