Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Inventing Excuses for Healing Failures

Larry King once asked Oral Roberts: “Rev. Roberts, when God does not heal someone you have prayed for, how do you explain that?” The famous healer's reply: “I don’t know."

I always admired Oral Roberts for that answer.

As Christians, we take our stand on the Scriptures to tell us who God is and what He does.. Sometimes Scriptures are very confusing. The subject of healing being an example. Confusion though, does not give us license to make up our own religion.

I do have my own way of resolving difficult Scripture for myself. I always start with Jesus. When even His words confuse me, then I fall back on a saying my grandmother taught me: "Actions speak louder than words." That saying even helped me be a better psychotherapist. When I don't understand what a person is saying, I watch what he does.

Therefore, if someone asked me the question posed to the Rev. Roberts, why did God not heal someone, I would have to reply, "I don't know, I never saw Him (Jesus) not do it."

Jesus healed everyone who asked Him. When did any one ever see Jesus do such things as these: “God took your little sister to heaven because she was so sweet, He wanted her with Himself.” Or, “God did not heal in order to bring you closer to Himself, or "God uses your sickness to teach you." etc. etc. Fill in the awful explanations you have heard.

Where do such people get their religion?


Anonymous said...

The idea of reading the gospels to see what Jesus did seems extremely important to me. I remember reading a Roman Catholic catechism that affirmed that while the gospel writers apparently change story details to convey specific meanings within the specific gospels, the gospel writers still bore faithful witness to the ministry of Jesus. In other words, Jesus really did the kind of miracles and healings reported in the gospels. This seems of extreme importance to me because of statements about himself that the gospel writers attribute to Jesus. Statements like, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father", "The Son of Man can of himself do nothing - the Father in me does the works", "I only do the works I see my Father do". Statements like "God took my baby to heaven because he wanted another rosebud in his bouquet" sound sweet but are terrifying to me. What if God is really that capricious? So I fall back on what Jesus said. If I have seen him, I have seen the Father. Jesus is the express image of the Father. When I see Jesus in the gospels responding to a hurting person, that must be the heart and will of God in action - regardless of my experiences to the contrary.

Apparently Jesus couldn't do just anything he wanted. Ministering as a human being empowered by the Holy Spirit, he was totally dependent on the Father's will. Sometimes Jesus told folks that their faith healed them. I often reflect on the woman who suffered from severe bleeding - and had spent all her money on unsuccessful medical treatments. She pressed through the crowd around Jesus and touched him by faith. Power flowed out of Jesus into her body and she immediately perceived that her body had changed and that she was well. Jesus had to ask who touched him because he had felt the power transfer, but didn't know who had made the faith contact. Contrast that to Jesus' ministry in his hometown. There he could do no mighty acts because of their unbelief.

I don't know why specific people aren't healed. But the bible does assert that some things prevent God from accomplishing his healing will - including unbelief, unforgiveness, not discerning the Lord's Body in Holy Communion, lack of prayer and fasting leading to unbelief. Agnes Sanford often said that while all things are possible to the believer, not all things are necessarily possible for me. Some healing miracles may prove to be part of a corporate experience of God's covenant that transcends the person seeking healing. Maybe the Body of Christ is just weak in healing ministry because of all the divisions within the Body of Christ.