The Mystery of Healing
One day last year, I was listening to a new CD when one of the songs tiptoed into my heart and stayed there. It was a hymn by ‘George Matheson, ‘O Love that will not let me go”. I was deeply moved by it. George Matheson was only 20 when he went completely blind. His fiancé left him because she said she couldn’t face life with a blind man. What a cruel double blow it was, but he courageously went on to fulfil his calling.
Matheson lived with his sister. When she married 20 years later—it brought him to another big crisis. She had been his eyes. How could he manage without her? This defining moment led to his writing the hymn - in about five minutes. He says it was as if Someone dictated it. As I listened to the words, my tears flowed and I found myself sobbing—crying for the brave blind young man whose heart must have broken when his fiancé left him. For the middle aged pastor whose life reached crisis-point when his caregiver got married. And yet … Matheson’s life was a fruitful one as a pastor. He blessed countless people (myself included) through his ministry. My tears that day were also a work of the Holy Spirit as He spoke to me through the poignant words and music.
I’ve been reflecting on the mystery of healing from time to time, more so since my own battle with chronic illness has dragged on interminably. Why does God heal sometimes and not all the time? Didn't Jesus heal everyone who came to Him? So does the fault lie in us who are not healed? Is it a lack of faith as Christians often suggest? Jesus said He came to bring us abundant life. How does Cancer or Chronic fatigue or MS or Blindness or Quadriplegia provide life in all its fullness?
My journey as a believer has been greatly enriched by giants of the faith who have preceded us. Fanny Crosby was an American mission worker, poet, lyricist and composer who wrote over 9000 hymns. She was blind for most of her life. Was her life hampered by her blindness? Apparently not. Listen to what she wrote at the tender age of 8.
"Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be,
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't,
So weep or sigh because I'm blind, I cannot - nor I won't."
What a challenge for us who can see but who complain all too easily! Fanny Crosby lived a full life till the age of 95—hers was an inspiring testimony of what God can with a life totally yielded to Him.
Did she not have sufficient faith to receive healing?
Or did she radiate an abundant life in spite of her blindness?
Psalm 103 tells us that God heals all our diseases. What does it mean? If I’m not healed, it must be due to my sin? Or is it? The Bible instructs us to ask and receive—what happens when we ask but do not receive? The fault has to be mine. Or is it? If I know anything about this walk with God, it is that there is much that God does not reveal to us. After all, an essential ingredient of this faith journey is trust. If we had all the answers, would trust be needed? God doesn’t always remove all trials from us, does He? And what would our characters be like if God pampered us with easy, comfortable lives?
I’ve been blessed recently by an uplifting true story—‘The Untold Love Story of Joni and Ken Eareckson Tada. Joni has suffered more than most of us. She became a quadriplegic at the tender age of 17. After decades of living in a wheelchair, she went through a season of intolerable pain when she was tested more than she could bear. Then, as if she hadn’t suffered enough, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. How much could one person take? How unfair it seemed. And yet, Ken and Joni consider her cancer journey a gift from God. It had drawn them closer together and they found God’s love afresh through it. Their story inspires me.
But … questions remain. Perhaps your healing and mine are marked ‘Later’! Yes God desires wholeness for us. Yes, His death has won the battle. Yes, we can ask for healing and expect it. But in life's classroom, there's never enough space for short glib answers to be scribbled on God’s blackboard. We do know that God loves us. We do know that He is good and that He is always faithful. These three glorious truth can be our resting place as we struggle up the mountain of hope. We do know that often it’s in times of suffering that we can see His face more clearly (as we seek it) because tough times are usually treasures wrapped in ugly wrapping paper. We do know that we can ask boldly of a Father who loves to lavish good things upon us.
So how do we respond when life’s not the peaceful stroll in lush surroundings that we envisioned it to be? Like Joni and Ken Tada (and countless others) we can be a powerful witness to Him, as in our weakness, we choose to lean on Him, praise Him in the hallway and live a different kind of abundant life—one that brings glory to God in spite of our suffering.
Today if you feel discouraged, do keep holding onto Him. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a Saviour who loves us. Satan’s plans are never permanent—God has a habit of using them to accomplish His own purposes. Jesus overturned the Enemy’s tables and transformed death into LIFE. One glad day He will surprise you. Your suffering will fade into insignificance as you marvel with joy how He worked it all out all for your eternal good.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
2 Corinthians 12:9
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD,
'plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future'" Jeremiah 29:11