After the week in the Palouse, dealing with the most recent Mom-crisis--I've been plunged into a valley of pain. The problem is I tend to wear stress like a coat on my weak body. Today, in something of a delayed reaction, I woke to the sense that I really shouldn't climb out of bed. Unfortunately, I did--climb out of bed, that is--and discovered that my legs would rather not carry me, my neck can't rotate, and my very skin is painful to the touch. Yes, all in all, a banner day.
Lying in bed, though, I got to thinking about Jesus and healing. It's one of the primary things He does in the gospels. You can barely get through a page (unless He's preaching) without running into someone Jesus has healed. However, though we might like it so, there is no blueprint for the way Jesus touches people. No 10-step program followed each time for a successful transaction of His power to the blind, sick and lame. Here are a few of the healings I thought of:
Direct command--"Take up your mat and walk",
Direct rebuke--"Be gone, demons..."
Mud in the eyes
Two step restoration of sight--1."Men like trees walking around." 2. "Now I see clearly."
Forgiving sins first
Ten lepers healed, one who gives thanks stay healed
Without His knowledge--the touch of His robe
Taking a child by the hand
Delaying so that God would receive the glory, then calling a dead man forth
Laying on His hands--many times
Healing because of the faith of friends who cut through the roof
The faith of the humble centurion "Just say the word!"--not being physically present to heal
Moved by compassion for a mother (raising her dead son)
Out of a man and into some swine
Ok, so this probably isn't comprehensive. The point is that the unifying ingredient in these miraculous healings is not a certain protocol, as doctors use, but a certain Person. Jesus Himself is the common thread. The how, the heart of the sick even, matter less than His presence in every situation. And when He sent out His disciples on their first preaching journeys, He expected them to understand. What healing takes is faith and His Name. And those poor disciples weren't very successful at it. Not at first, anyway. But they became powerfully able to heal in Jesus' Name. Once filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter and his cronies were able to do amazing things in His Name, from healing the blind, opening prison doors, and even condemning a couple of people to death.
He had several purposes in His healings. When He heard Lazarus was ill, for instance, He delayed His going to Bethany. "This sickness will not end in death," He told His disciples. No, it is for God's glory, so that God's Son may be glorified through it." Healing as a picture of who He was, a sign of God's presence. Jesus never lost sight of the chief purpose of His Incarnation--to reveal Himself as Messiah, to save us from sins. Those sins forgiven were/are the most important element in healing, after all. We can live with crippled bodies, but we'll be condemned with crippled souls.
And though I think He healed many more people than the gospels even record, I also think He probably didn't heal every single sick/lame person in the world during His ministry. Of course He didn't. Some continued to suffer, struggle in that suffering, pray for healing. What He did do, for every single person in the world, is die for the forgiveness of their sins. And that is a healing we couldn't live without.
So I sit here today, thinking of the healing He's brought me. Time after time. My body is weak, yes. But you know, I don't mind that so much--at least not most of the time. My sins are forgiven, and that's better by far than simply being healthy. Sometimes I think that being healthy would be the worst possible thing that could happen to me spiritually. See, I know I can't live my life by myself. I can't even climb out of bed without His strength. Mere health might make me believe I was in charge of my own life. Thank God, I don't have that luxury. Instead, like Paul, I have the gift of weakness, that His grace is sufficient for. And I have the healing most necessary--my sins have been forgiven, I've been set free. Hallelujah!
PS. I found out last night that the snowplow driver who pulled us and my brother-in-law's nephew from the ditch the other day was actually said brother-in-law's own cousin. I'm telling you it's a miniscule world--only about 2 rather than 6 degrees of separation--I came from in the Palouse.