The subject of “Healing” is a bit tricky for a Christian with an illness. On one hand, we believe that Jesus did miracles and commended us to ask for Him to do miracles today, and yet there are still so many sick people. What do we do with that? Is it because we lack faith? How long are we supposed to keep asking for healing when someone is sick year after year?
Dear friends, I have thought about these questions a lot. In fact, I’ve spent more time praying “God, how should I think about healing?” than actually asking God to heal me. I feel like I’ve wrestled with these questions, all the while believing Jesus can do it. I’ve come to a real peace about my time being chronically ill as a Christian, and I want to share that process with you today.
Here are the two stories / Scripture passages that have stood out to me – the ones I believe Jesus has given me to know how to navigate this tough question: “God, how should I think about Healing?”
- (2 Corinthians 12) Paul was pretty much the most awesome Christian ever. He had an amazing conversion story, was healed from blindness and protected from a poisonous snake bite, became a missionary, was beaten and imprisoned for his faith, started and encouraged numerous churches, wrote most of the books in the New Testament, and He LOVED God. In his letter to the Corinthians, he described how there was a “thorn in his flesh” that he asked God to take away. Theologians believe this “thorn” was some kind of chronic illness. God essentially said “no.” Paul asked a second time. God said “no.” Paul asked a third time. And this was God’s response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Paul continued to explain to the Corinthians, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 2:9-10). My dear friends, if healing were a matter of faith alone, Paul would’ve been healed. But God explained to Paul that He could show Himself mightier in his life if Paul were weak. And through all of this, Paul discovered the secret of being content – letting Jesus be His source of life, no matter the circumstances.
I get this. I understand it in a deeply personal way. Before I was sick, I wasn’t aware that I needed God’s help daily. Consequently, there wasn’t a lot of freedom in my life, because I didn’t depend upon Him. As I’ve been sick, He’s met me with incredible grace, and I have countless stories where I have been undeniably weak from my sickness, and yet I felt God strengthen me to do something impossible. There’s no way that the good I have experienced in this last season came from my own efforts – because I haven’t had the strength! Which means, that the grace and provision I’ve experienced have all been God showing up for me in His full strength and love. I see that God’s grace is sufficient for me, that He shows up powerfully in my life as I make room for Him. I have become content because I know with all my heart that God is with me.
I’m not saying that God won’t heal me, or that I’ve stopped asking. But, I do feel specifically like God has spoken to me through this passage. I feel like it’s okay for me to not keep asking. It isn’t a lack of faith or a lack of not asking that is the result of my not being healed. Healing isn’t a formula, and we don’t understand all of the “why’s”… but I feel that God is telling me to rest in His grace, and that He will be my strength and provision. So, that’s what I’m going to do! (And turns out I love it!)
- (Daniel 3) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were three young Hebrew guys back in the day of the Babylonian reign. King Nebuchadnezzar had set up an idol that all of the citizens were required to worship, but these young men wouldn’t comply. They were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar and given the choice to bow down to the idol or to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their response was simple: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). King Nebuchadnezzar did indeed throw them into the fiery furnace (after heating it up 7x hotter than normal). When he looked into the furnace, he saw four men walking around unscathed – the three young men and an angel. King Nebuchadnezzar shouted for them to come out, and they didn’t even smell like smoke! King Nebuchadnezzar then knew that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was the true God, for no other god could save like Him!
I love this story. This isn’t your typical healing passage, but it shows us something significant about how we can respond to God. The phrase “[my] God is able to deliver [me] from it, but even if he doesn’t…” is a lasting phrase ringing in my ears. This posture / attitude resonates with me. I believe with every fiber of my being that God can heal me, and He does heal people. I know that my God is able to deliver me from Lyme Disease, but even if He doesn’t… He is still a good God, and I will worship Him. I feel a strong conviction that my focus shouldn’t be on being delivered from Lyme Disease. My eyes are fixed on the One who delivers.
I would love to be healed, dear friends. I mean that. I don’t say that lightly. Lyme Disease has ravaged my body and my life. I want for it to be gone! But even more than I want for my Lyme Disease to be gone… I want for Jesus to meet me. I want for Him to convince me that I’m loved even when I do nothing to earn it. I want for Him to convince me that He will be with me in my hardest moments of life. And He has. These are the things He keeps proving to me, over and over again. It is the thing that I treasure most in my life. And while healing would be wonderful, it pales in comparison to finding out that my God sees me and loves me exactly where I am.
My dear friends, these are my convictions about being chronically ill. I’ve prayed. I’ve asked God to show me how I’m supposed to think about this time, and these are the things that resonate deeply in my heart. These may resonate with you, but don’t take my word for it. I’d encourage you to ask God how He wants you to posture your heart. Do you feel like God is asking you to contend for healing? Do you feel like He is asking you to love Him and trust Him no matter what? Do you feel like He’s telling you to rest in His grace and let Him do all the work? What passages of Scripture stand out to you?
It is likely that well-meaning people who love you will offer you thoughts about healing that don’t quite resonate with how you feel. That’s okay. My advice would be to talk with a trusted friend or mentor to see if they think there’s anything you should take a second look at. Pray about it too. But don’t get too worked up. If you’ve asked your mentor, and you’ve asked Jesus but ultimately feel like “That’s not for me.” Then, fantastic! Let it be like water off a duck’s back…
This is about you hearing freshly from God what you are to pay attention to. I find that God speaks to me most through reading my Bible — things stand out to me that never have before, and it sticks with me. The Bible is always a great place to start in knowing how to navigate life. Jesus’ character is displayed throughout every page. Because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever… His words and His ways back then are still relevant for you now.
Ask Him how to posture yourself during this season. His words to you will settle your heart and give you a landing place.