Editorial

Jesus Our Healer

By

A recent AARP poll of 1,500 people age 45 or older reveals that 81 percent believe in miracles of healing. Of that group, 84 percent attribute miraculous acts to divine intervention, with most identifying God as Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit.

If that poll were taken in Alliance churches, would the results show that 100 percent of any age group believes in healing miracles? I think results would show that IF people SEE miraculous healing, almost all will attribute the miracle to Jesus. But is that true faith?

Today, divine healing may have become the rare common ground between the Enlightenment’s insistence on “evidence that demands a verdict” and a postmodern emphasis on personal experience. Many Christians might wince if they heard a fellow churchgoer say, “I will believe He is Healer only if I witness or experience healing.” Yet when others receive healing while our situation remains unchanged, it is easy to think, He’s their Healer, but He has chosen not to be mine.

A friend and I used to visit an elderly lady in a nursing home, and one day, she asked us to drop in on her former roommate, a woman with a badly shattered hip who had been transferred to another wing. “She’s from England,” Mary said proudly. “She grew up in that town with the famous university.”

I expected a demure daughter of an Oxford don but was treated instead to a salty, opinionated woman who seemed to have picked up her vocabulary from the workers at her father’s construction yard. “Karen” colorfully told us what she thought of every item on the evening news, and since we were “church ladies,” she informed us that she was beyond being saved, so we shouldn’t even try. Negative experiences with the Church had led her to believe that God had abandoned her long ago.

When I told her I would like to pray for her at our church’s healing service, she scoffed at the idea that God would or even could make a difference in her life. But the next Sunday morning, I went forward anyway to be anointed with oil for Karen’s healing.

The next day, Karen’s room was empty. Staff members explained that late Sunday morning, Karen had called her daughter to pick her up. Then this woman, whose fractured hip had refused to mend for half a year, wriggled out of the traction sling above her bed and walked across the room to her closet. She got dressed without assistance, packed her bags and then checked herself out when her daughter arrived.

Because of privacy laws, I could not get Karen’s phone number or address, so I never saw her again. But I believe that somewhere in Colorado, an old lady danced for joy because the Lord had healed—and by that healing, He had opened a door to her heart that she thought had long been sealed.

Fast forward 10 years. I took a trip to the Midwest, where I visited my older brother in a group home. He is severely mentally challenged, and I asked God again why He had never answered prayers for my brother’s healing. The answer was shocking in its immediacy and simplicity: Why don’t you just enjoy him as he is? I do. The healing that took place that day was my self-centered notion that because I couldn’t see it, my brother’s relationship with God was nonexistent.

Prayer may not change a physical condition, but, when offered sincerely and consistently, prayer always changes the one who prays. God works in ways that are beyond our understanding, sometimes intervening to work a miracle, but at many other times to prepare our hearts for greater insight into His will and His character—in other words, to bring us closer to Himself.

Sometimes prayers for healing are answered “instantly” though often after many years of requests. In other situations, healing takes place in stages over a longer period. God’s choices can seem arbitrary: the Bible records instances where healing is given to a person, like Karen, who exhibited no previous faith in Jesus (John 5:1–13; Acts 3:1–8). At other times, healing came after demonstrations of great faith (Matt. 8:5–13; Luke 8:40–48). And the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:7–10) never experienced relief, despite repeatedly asking the Lord to intervene.

In this issue, you will read about a college student whose life was changed in an instant—and who now must redefine her self-image in light of her new abilities (p. 6). A pastor received divine protection after breaking his neck (p. 10), and another servant of God experienced several “waves” of healing throughout his life—and a healthy dose of wisdom as well (p. 8). Several missionaries, serving in countries far from North America, offer insights on prayer and healing that transcend culture (p. 12; p. 14). And a heartfelt apology is offered to children who suffered abuse in C&MA boarding schools, with the hope that this expression will help our journey toward true healing and wholeness (p. 21).

Jesus is our Healer—not hers or his or theirs—but ours. Individual experience, whether positive or disappointing, does not change this aspect of His character. He longs to see us made whole, and every time He intervenes in our lives—whether physically, emotionally or spiritually—He brings the glory to God the Father.

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