Friday, May 07, 2010

Do you want to be well?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 5:1-18

TO CHEW ON: “When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” John 5:6

Do you want to be made well?” What a question to ask a man who has been ill for 38 years. Of course he wants to be well - doesn’t he?

Jesus’ question causes me to ask a few questions of my own:
  • Is Jesus here implying that physical healing and wholeness have more to do with having a will to recover and live than we give them credit for? (I have certainly heard of people who seem to hang onto life until they have seen a certain person or a special event has taken place.)
  • Should we continue to seek physical healing despite years of God’s apparent “No” to our request?
  • Can we conclude, when someone doesn’t get healed, that there is something wrong - that they haven’t prayed hard enough or don’t have enough faith?

These are hard questions and don’t have easy answers. I remember reading Joni Erickson Tada’s story. After the accident which made her a quadriplegic, friends advised her to pray for divine healing and then, in faith, get out of her chair and walk. She couldn’t - despite prayers and exercising all the faith she could muster. It brought up great conflict in her and precipitated a crisis of faith. Finally, she accepted her situation and moved on.

On the other hand, I’ve heard accounts and read stories of people who were miraculously physically healed, some shortly after the sickness began, others after years of being sick.

Divine healing was/is part of the atonement (“by His stripes we are healed”). But does God always heal? Obviously not. Even Paul was left with a “thorn in the flesh” after praying to have it removed (though we’re not told what that ‘thorn’ was; some think it was physical illness, others that it was something else).

However, if you are sick, don’t just lie there, resigned to the fact that this is now your lot. Rather, follow the advice of James to call for the elders of the church and pray for healing.  And if you are not healed, James has more advice.

As Oswald Chambers says:

“To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 10 reading.

PRAYER: Dear God, the state of my physical body can challenge my faith in Your goodness. Please help me to understand Your mind on these things - for myself and for others. Amen.

MORE: Not everyone gets healed. This fact can cause consternation if the unhealed person is you. Mary Lou Cornish wrestles with the fact of not getting healed in her powerful poem “I Chased My Healing.” It begins:

I chased my healing hard
   And harried,

Down lengths of longing,

Through labyrinths of pain. 
I chased my healing

As if I deserved it
   (There is no one righteous, no, not one),

As if I were worthy of it
   (If we claim to be without sin,
     we deceive ourselves).

As if I earned it,
   (Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord).

Read the entire poem.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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