The Real Power of Healing

I have no doubt that miraculous healings from God occur today, and I have witnessed the kind of joy such healings bring. We should intently petition God to heal the sick around us, be they sick in the body, mind or spirit.

As I talk with Christians about the concept of healing, however, I do sometimes wish we could better understand the meaning of healing. For as wonderful as it is to see someone miraculously healed, it is even more wonderful to recognize why healing happens.

Jesus healed a lot of people in the Bible, and those healing stories always point us to a deeper meaning. One of the easiest places to see what I’m talking about is in the ninth chapter of John, where Jesus restores the sight of a man born blind.

It is an astounding healing. For all practical purposes, Jesus creates vision where there has been none. He mixes spit with dirt, kneading it into mud and smearing it on the man’s eyes, telling him to go wash in a pool.

When the blind man washes, he can see. People who witness him freely walking about later with his eyes open are so perplexed that they are not sure it is really the blind beggar they have always known.

In fact, most of the ninth chapter is dedicated not to the story of the healing, but the controversy that ensues. The Pharisees, great lovers of the law, ask, Who did this? And how dare he do it on a sabbath?

As the story progresses and Jesus speaks with the man he has healed, the symbolism of this healing and other healings becomes clear. The world is trapped in spiritual blindness, unable to see God for who God is. But Jesus, fully and completely God, has come to open the world’s eyes to truths hidden by sin.

As we know, Jesus goes on to do a larger work of re-creation. Ultimately, Christ sheds his blood, mixing it with the ground during the crucifixion. Because of his sacrifice, we all have the potential to see the truth that God loves us and will do whatever is necessary to bring us into a relationship with our creator. We simply need to believe to be healed spiritually.

And from time to time, some of us are healed physically or mentally, as a sign of God’s presence among us. When miraculous healings occur, we are reminded that God is in control, despite the brokenness that remains until Christ returns to seal his victory over sin and death.

In many ways, those who have been healed or have witnessed healings have a special responsibility.

We are called to testify that God’s power is present in the world. And like the healed blind man, we should boldly answer those who want to argue that God is not present.

Lord, thank you for what healings signify. As wonderful as they are for those who are healed, they are even more powerful as a sign of what is to come. Amen.

Sin Sick

Psalm 107:17-22 (NRSV)
Some were sick through their sinful ways,
    and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
    and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress;
he sent out his word and healed them,
    and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
    and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.

We live in a relatively libertine society—by that, I mean we are far less interested in forcibly repressing people’s behaviors than most societies have been throughout history. That’s generally a good thing, as people tend to develop disdain for heavy-handed institutions, be they secular or religious.

As we value our freedom, however, we Christians can sometimes forget to deliver a basic warning found in Scripture. Freely chosen sins can do a lot of damage to our bodies and our souls, hustling us along toward death.

I’m not saying that all sickness is a direct result of sin. Jesus made that clear enough in John 9, where we find the story of Jesus healing a man born blind. The disciples, caught up in the fallacy that all infirmities had a direct tie to sin, asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

There’s no doubt, however, that many sins are capable of dissipating us, leaving us less than what we should be as God’s creation. And we should always remember that what we might perceive as the smallest sin separates us from God, putting us in need of Jesus Christ as Savior.

There is physical illness tied to sexual sin, of course, diseases we cannot get as long as both husband and wife remain faithful in marriage. There also are the heightened physical risks we face when sins like pride, greed, wrath, envy, gluttony and sloth lead us to encounters where injury becomes likely.

When I read this portion of Psalm 107, I also get a deep sense that the psalmist is thinking of turmoil within the soul that may manifest itself as mental illness, as well as physical. We are broken in ways that allow us to sin, but made in God’s image, we were not designed for sin. The internal overpressure has to manifest itself in some way.

As we see further along in the psalm, there is a way out, a path back to wholeness and wellness. God wants that for us. God made that possible through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

Belief brings healing.

Lord, we pray specifically today for those among us who suffer mental or physical illness because of sin. We petition our risen savior to grant healing wherever it is needed. Where bodies cannot be fixed, may the souls within find full repair through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen.