Whenever I talk about faith and healing with students, I remind them that God uses a variety of means to accomplish healing and that healing itself can be of many types. God certainly uses the miraculous processes within our bodies that He designed and crafted into our DNA and all that it produces and directs. God can most certainly also miraculously and inexplicably touch us by His grace and make whole that which was not whole just an instant before. And God can use the wisdom and skill that He has called and equipped dedicated practitioners with and the technology that He has providentially provided for humanity to bring about healing.
With regard to the types of healing, we talk in various classes about the fact that healing, being restored to wholeness, may be partial or complete. It may be physical, psychological, emotional, relational, financial, etc.
What seems significant to me is not how healing occurs, but that it is God who heals and sometimes does so very unexpectedly.
In the past week in two unrelated venues I have been reminded of the story of Jesus’ encounter with the crippled man who had lain for most of four decades beside the pentagonally-porticoed pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. With crowds of infirm people gathered all around the porticoes, Jesus observed the man there and asked him, “Do you want to be well?” The man, instead of answering the question Jesus asked, began making excuses for why he’d lain there for so long. Later, in verse 12 we discover that he didn’t even know who Jesus was. He knew only that Jesus had told him simply, ” Arise, take up your pallet and walk.”
There is no evidence that any act of faith was required on the part of this man for Christ to heal him.
Sometimes we think that there must be a tremendous gesture of faith on our part, as individuals seeking healing for ourselves or others. And there are numerous examples of Christ’s healing miracles in which He says, in one way or another, “Your faith has made you whole.” But in this one case, at least, faith is never mentioned. And in the story of the man whose friends lowered him through a rooftop, the scripture seems to suggest that it is not the infirm man’s faith, but that of his friends that is noted as Christ heals him.
The mechanics of the various healing miracles intrigue me, too. In one instance Christ simply speaks the Word, in another he touches with His hand, in another a woman touches his clothing, in yet another He makes a paste of mud and spit. Sometimes it’s at a distance, as with the centurion’s slave. At other times it is by the bedside of the ill person. There seems to be no pattern, no predictability, no rhyme or reason that can lead us to know for sure how, or even if, God will heal in a particular situation.
Recently I’ve been privileged to watch as skilled surgeons and intensivists applied all their skill and wisdom to the care of two young children in dire medical circumstances hundreds of miles apart. A four year old boy was injured in a tragic accident involving a tractor driven by his grandfather. The other, a two year old boy, was physically abused and nearly killed by a foster parent. Each has made progress in his recovery in ways that, to most of us observing it all, can only be attributed to a miracle from God and an answer to prayer. Both still have a long way to go to full recovery. But those of us who continue to pray for them are encouraged by what we have seen.
In the case of the child injured in the tractor accident, tens of thousands of people have been checking his Caring Bridge journal and praying for him. His name has traveled across the nation in updates on Family Life Radio. In the case of the abused child, mostly a mere dozen friends and family members (and a sizable contingent of state agency personnel) have been rallying to his side and at least one church has had him on its prayer list. Though now that the abusing couple have been arrested and charged with attempted murder many more are aware of him and, hopefully, are praying for him- and them.
The four year old has moved out of intensive care to a regular room and is making great progress. The two year old leaves tomorrow for a brain rehabilitation center 150 miles from home and family. He has a lot of work ahead of him and time waiting to see if new brain cells are going to proliferate in the damaged sections of his brain. Thankfully, he is in a phase of development where brain growth is still occurring. The cognitive and motor skills that he’s gained over the last two years will have to be relearned, if possible. He’s tracking movement with his eyes now. A few days ago he smiled at a family member, though we don’t know if it meant recognition or just registered interest. It’s a start. We are grateful that he will apparently be able to respond to his evironment in more than merely reflexive ways.
If any healing, my own or someone else’s depended on my prayers or my faith, would my prayers and faith be righteous enough or effective enough to avail anything? ( Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16)
However it is occurring- by the natural healing power of their created bodies, by the gracious touch of God’s grace, by the wonders of modern medical science, or by the effective prayer of a single righteous person somewhere in the world- I thank God that it is occurring for both of these little boys.