Friday, April 27, 2007

Thoughts on Healing.

I have recently been challenged on my views in regard to healing in the church. To clarify, the place of God healing His people my means of the Holy Spirit when people are prayed for. This is specifically in regard to physical healing.

I am a member of a New Frontiers evangelical church that to label it if you must is 'charismatic'. That is it practices the 'charismata', the gifts of the spirit and believes they are as much for today's church as they were in the New Testament.

Now I don't have a problem with the gifts of the spirit at all and their manifestations. I sometimes doubt the genuineness of some peoples experience as I can be a cynical old hector but I also am mature enough to let it be between them and the Lord and not condemn them.

When it comes to healing I get quite cynical. I have no doubt of God's healing of the inner person. I have experienced significant emotional healing in my Christian life. It is physical healing where my attitude gets very negative. Let me be quite clear, I have no doubt at all that God can heal anything. He is sovereign over all things and His power is beyond comprehension.

However I really struggle with the whole praying for someone to be healed. I have certainly done it in the past and will continue to do it. Maybe my faith is so poor that it has an effect on the results. I guess it is the struggle with the age old question of why some are healed and others are not. Can you really declare that someone will be healed?

The new testament is full of examples of healing. Jesus obviously but also the apostles performed great acts healings. They had such bold faith as in Acts 3 when God healed the cripple through Peter and John.

It is so easy to lose heart and faith in God when you so desperately want someone to be healed and they aren't. A Christian may understand or at least have some trust in Gods sovereignty, but a non Christian would surely be turned away from God if nothing happened. My Father in law's dad is lying in hospital having caught a form of meningitis. He was a fairly fit 67 year old and within a day or two reduced to a body on life support with no cognitive brain function. I have asked my cell group and worship team to pray for him. I fasted for the first time ever for him and I don't even really know the man. I long to have the faith to go to the hospital, lay hands on him and say be healed in Jesus Name. How awesome would that be and glorifying to God. In my little world view I don't see why God doesn't do such things, its seems like the logical thing to do. To heal in face of no hope of recovery in the full glaze of the medical profession.

But that is where the problem I think lies. I am not God! I have no grasp of His eternal plan, thoughts or anything really. His ways are not our ways and He is not bound by what I see as the logical thing to do, He is sovereign! I must learn to just trust what He has said in the word. Jesus said we would do greater things than He did and He did a lot of healing of the sick and possessed.
I must persevere in trust and humility. It is clear from the gospels that God's desire is to heal and He has great compassion on those afflicted with sickness. Cynicism should have no place in my life as a believer. I have seen people healed, or certainly the after effects of it. A lady in my old church who was wheel chair bound and certified 70% disabled was healed and from then on danced joyfully in worship. A friend in my current church who's knee has been healed after he had been diagnosed with cartilage damage where his knee clicked constantly. Yet my cynicism takes hold again there. Why in church are healings always, backs, muscles, aches etc...? Jesus performed major miracles on lepers, deformities and other such very visible diseases. I think it is my logical, scientific mind wanting more proof. Though I doubt it would ever be satisfied.

I always play it safe and want to manage expectations. I think it has as much to do with my not wanting to feel let down by God than not wanting the person being prayed for to be hurt.

At the end of the day Lord I need more faith and trust in your goodness and that no matter what happens in this world your love, grace, mercy and faithfulness to us is constant and beyond anything I can grasp.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6


Update to post @ 7:50 pm: I just found out that yesterday my father in law's Dads life support machine was turned off and he died this morning at 2am.

I guess I will never know what might have happened had I gone and prayed for him!

Please pray for the family, thanks?

1 comment:

Nick said...

The thing about praying for healing is that when we act as an intercessor for somebody, we become very self aware. We worry about how they will react if they don't get healed... and fear that it might reflect on our faith. We worry about what will happen if they do get healed, will it go to our heads or will they start acting inappropriately towards us.

You quoted a good verse there. God is sovereign and it is better to make our prayers in innocent hope and trust him... even if the answer he gives is sometimes something we aren't going to like.

There is another verse from Proverbs that says that in his heart a man plots his course, but the Lord determines his steps. I think sometimes we have to accept that God is going to step in and divert us on occasion. The godless get bitter about such things and see it as intolerbale interference. The godly trust that the foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of man.

I recently said farewell to a man of God who touched many lives. Like your Grandfather-in-Law, he too was on life support. 170 people gathered in church to pray for his healing and recovery following brain surgery. Yet that very night he suffered a massive stroke and a day later they switched his life support off.

Our loss was Heaven's gain. I witnessed other miraclkes takign place in the wake of his death... that would not have happened had he lived. At his funeral some 1,000 mourners had the Gospel message proclaimed to them... and they had the opportunity to see how real his faith was to him. How certain his hope was. I would bet good money that a number of people will be just that little bit nearer to God.

Rather poignantly, this verse was on my heart... and if that wasn't enough - it reoccurred in both my Bible notes a day later... and in the words of a hymn at the actual funeral a week later:

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."

So I believe that God was working in a manner that is hard for us to accept... because it causes us loss and pain.

Remember there were times when Jesus couldn't perform miracles. In Nazareth he couldn't because people only saw "Joseph's son". They let their perception of him as a mere human who had grown up in their presence, cloud their view of God's grace... and they missed the blessings he would have bestowed upon them.

Sometimes people say it is about how much faith the person praying, or receiving prayer has.

I don't think that is quite accurate... because it denies God's sovereignty - Jesus himself said if we had faith the size of mustard seed we could move a mountain.

I think the main "obstacles" to physical healing are firstly whether or not it glorifies God and fits in with his plan... and secondly if we (as either intercessor or recipient) allow our perception of ourselve (through either doubt or pride) to become bigger than our perception of God in our prayers.

I am sorry to hear of your loss and you have my prayers... for what it is worth.

God bless

N