Living in the Tension: Now and Not Yet
I’d never done an ugly cry in front of teenagers.
Then, one Sunday last year, I’m leading Teen Church and our youth pastor (randomly? I think not.) delegates topics and I’m saddled with –
Does God Still Heal Today?
I’m a little furious. Like,
Are you kidding? Are you kidding me? You want me to teach on healing?
Because I’m the mom of the kid who needs healing and healing hasn’t happened.
We’ve prayed. Nada. Other people have prayed. Zilch. Still others have anointed our son with oil resulting in exactly zero healing. We’ve been to big loud healing gigs. We’ve stood up in church. We’ve wracked out our angry grief at night in bed clutching hands and bits of sanity. We’ve fasted and begged, Come on, God! You’d get so much glory from this!
Preparing the lesson at home in the week, I sob from start to finish. Good, I think. Have a good cry. Get it all out. That way, you’ll be fine on the day. I gather my thoughts and beliefs, my sketchy bits of faith and truth and mystery and I come up with something I’m fairly comfortable with, on healing.
On how God can heal. And how mostly He doesn’t.
Sunday comes and I’m all about the jokes and being the warm welcome and there’s even a bit of a thaw in the too-cool-for-Sunday-school room.
But really I’m swallowing… the tears… and yelling at myself on the inside to Get A Grip! because I need to be the grownup with the answers.
I stand up, and fall apart.
It’s not that my voice is a little shaky and I’m a little tearful. Hell no.
I can’t speak.
I’m bawling. Embarrassing, snotty sobs. (I will only realize, when it’s all over and I go to the ladies’ room, that I have what my husband calls my Alice Cooper Eyes: seriously scary mascara damage.)
Some of the girls get a little tearful too. Most of the boys stare at their feet and the air is thick with cringe.
I howl through a bit of our uninspiring non-healing story – blow my nose – and eventually get enough words together to tell them what I do know, and in no particular order here it is:
1 We don’t pray for healing enough.
Maybe because we can’t bear the not-enough-faith guilt or the disappointment of our prayers ‘not working’ so we’d rather not pray in the first place.
Maybe because too many shady pseudo-Christians have fake-healed too many times.
Maybe because we don’t want to treat the Creator of the universe like a genie in a bottle, there to do our bidding, ease our pain, and give us our way.
2 We should pray for healing, because God heals and because He’s never told us to stop praying for healing.
He heals in might and power. He takes away cancer and AIDS and holes in babies’ hearts. We should pray for healing as fervently as we pray for wisdom – with absolute assurance that God hears and answers according to His perfect will.
3 We are called to live by faith.
It takes great faith to trust that God can / does / will heal. It takes great faith to trust that if / when / because He doesn’t heal, every time, He is still infinitely good, kind, wise and powerful.
4 We don’t give God His power.
God isn’t dependent on our fickle faith to do His work. He doesn’t wring His hands in heaven going, ‘Oh! All the healing power has gone out of Me because they don’t have enough faith!’
5 He heals to bolster our faith, more than because of it.
He heals even when no one knows and no one is looking, and sometimes – most times? – often times? – He lets brokenness run its course.
I have no idea why.
6 God invented decision-making and He doesn’t owe us an explanation for His perfect decisions.
John tells us that at the pool of Bethesda, in Jerusalem, there were ‘crowds of sick people – blind, lame, or paralyzed.’ Yet Jesus went up to just one man – one man amidst swarms of the sick and the dying – and He healed him.
Jesus didn’t explain why He picked that one man. He didn’t owe His disciples or anyone else an explanation. He doesn’t owe me an explanation either, no matter how sad, cross or confused I may feel.
God has been deciding things since forever. He chose fever trees – not fir trees – to grow in Africa. He chose Abraham’s family – not some other family – to bless the whole world. He chose Moses – not some other guy – to lead His people out of Egypt. All this has never bothered me, because it’s never been personal.
Yet my Heavenly Father is intensely, intimately personal to me. His power that split the sea and raised the dead is alive in me. However He chooses to reveal Himself through me, to the world, well, I’m okay with that.
7 Healing gives us a Kingdom glimpse.
God’s Kingdom is Now and Not Yet. We’re in a glorious dispensation of grace and Holy Spirit power – but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. When God heals, it’s a tangible manifestation of what He does on the insides of us – total renewal – and an electrifying reminder of the eternal realities that await. I say, bring it.
So, God might heal our boy in this life. For sure, He will heal him in the next.
I’ll keep asking for the former, but my faith doesn’t hinge on the answer.
Either way – in the now and the not yet – I have reason to sing.
Dalene Reyburn is a South African writer and speaker. She’s the author of three books, including Walking in Grace – 366 inspirational devotions for an abundant life in Christ, and a contributor to various online devotionals. She and her husband, Murray, have two sons and two very muddy golden retrievers. She loves big skies, big trees, dark chocolate and date night.