Have you ever known someone who has been very ill, but after the prayers of many, the person was miraculously healed??
Getting the opportunity to experience such firsthand or even as a witness can be an incredible bolster to one’s faith, as well as to the power of prayer.
Although what happens when the healing doesn’t come in the timing or the way we think? When the loved one dies. The diagnosis remains. Rather than progress, the problems multiply each day. What are we to do then?
A very challenging question to ask, yet alone figure out. Although we are going to look at this predicament by turning to John 5. Starting in verse 2, “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” After a further exchange… “Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” John 5:1-3, 5-9 NIV
What a powerful proclamation at the hand of our Lord. Here we see a man who has been sitting at the gate begging for 38 years. That’s right. Not three minutes or even hours. We’re talking 38 YEARS!!! 13,870 days waiting… 332,880 hours unable to walk. Although, after an encounter with Jesus, life is restored. Purpose once lost, now returned. What a testimony this man became.
Still, beyond the healing of this man, we cannot pass by verse 3 for he was not the only one lame. “Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.”
Now we don’t exactly know the number of “great” referred to here. Although based on what we know from history and other scripture is there were many. Therefore, I can only imagine their thoughts and emotions when this unfolds before their eyes.
Some must have been angry. Others disappointed. More were likely wondering if there was something they had done wrong because He had not healed them… Do you find yourselves in their shoes today?
The reality is our healing, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, doesn’t always come here on earth. So the question then becomes: What should we do in response?
Are we to stop praying?
- No! Our temptation is definitely to do such, especially as time ticks by and our patience weans. Yet in our seasons of suffering and waiting, we are to continue to persevere in prayer, calling upon the name of our Lord. He hears us and is near.
So how should we handle our suffering?
- Rather than hiding or numbing as culture has woven into our DNA, I believe it is imperative we simply linger and stay in the sacred space.
- We must acknowledge the losses and broken dreams before God. To grieve all the deadened things. To face truth and our realities no matter how hopeless it may seem.
- It is uncomfortable and ugly. And it is more than a checklist or timeline.
- Still, God wants us to bring ALL of our hearts and emotions, fears and questions to His feet.
- David shows us this posture in Psalms 22. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.” Psalms 22:1-3 NIV
- Just like the story of Hagar in Genesis 16, we can also rest in His peace knowing He sees each one of us. He sees your tears. Your fears. Your late nights. Your brokenness. Your pain. He sees you and His heart breaks with you.
As we wrestle with such questions and emotions, our temptation may be to hide or run the other way. Although, I would like to challenge you to press in.
- Community is even more crucial as we walk through dark seasons. Obviously not everyone can nor should know every detail, all the time… But find your people. Your tribe.
- It is in this vulnerable opening of our flesh, we invoke a deeper healing. Not merely to our hearts, but to those surrounding.They too are given permission to give voice to their feelings and suffering.
- Then, together we can move from the why to the HOW when it comes to God using our suffering to help others
While all this may sound fine and dandy, I know personally how difficult it can be to actually apply to our lives. When this post was originally written in 2020, my sickness was profound as I had experienced strokes, sprains and sepsis. Still today is no different, even more magnified in a sense, as my conditions have continued to cause my body to rapidly digress.
I, too, find myself often wrestling with this concept for I haven’t received my healing in full yet.
Although, I know it’s not a matter of if God can. Just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood confident of their God’s ability to save/heal when it came down to being thrown in the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel.
Still I am choosing that even if He doesn’t heal me, I will praise Him. Even if I don’t eat again, still I will praise Him. Even if I don’t walk again, still I will praise Him. Even if I don’t see or drive again, still I will praise Him.
The wreckage of sin and suffering here on earth may feel unbearable at times. Yet because of Jesus and His blood shed on the cross for us, we can look forward to eternity, where all things will forever be made new. The here and now are temporary.
So in the meantime, I pray you too may seek a posture of surrender. The desire for His will to be done above all. While it is far from easy, I can promise He will be faithful in getting you through and you just might be surprised in all he teaches you… “Even if…”