Summary: Funeral sermon for Melvia Jean Harrison, victim of interstitial lung disease.

“Bless the Lord ... who heals all your diseases.” What an

astounding claim! What an extravagant promise! The Lord

heals all your diseases. Not some of them, not most of

them, but all of them. Do we believe that? Do we think that

is true?

Then, if the Lord heals all our diseases, what about Melvia

Harrison’s disease? Why did not the Lord deal with

interstitial lung disease? Can we who knew and loved Melvia

Harrison bless a Lord who heals all diseases, but who

missed this one?

True, we have gathered today not so much to wrestle with

theological questions as to say farewell. We have come

together not for a seminar in logic or a short course in

theology, but we are here to hear good news and to be

assured of eternal life. Our minds are not set for dealing with

unanswerable questions today. Nevertheless, the issue

lingers: can the Lord heal all our diseases? Melvia Harrison

believed it and prayed for it. Some of you sat with her in her

living room, as did I, and prayed with her toward that. “All

your diseases” – is it empty promise, claiming too much; or is

it a precious reality we have not understood? “All your

diseases” – is it breezy salesmanship from the Lord, like the

used car salesman who promises that his wares will run

forever? Or is it something more profoundly true than we

have ever thought? We deserve to know. And Melvia’s

memory is best honored by discovering the “allness” of all!

The Psalmist seems very committed to “allness”: “All that is

within me, bless his holy name .. do not forget all his benefits

.. who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.”

Is there truly good news in this “all” business?

I first came to know Melvia Harrison as more than someone

sitting in our pews when I visited with her as she was

considering membership in this church. She had been here

on several occasions, and I had noticed her. She was not

hard to miss, with the breathing tubes and oxygen tank. I

wanted to respond to her interest in our church, and I wanted

to know more about her health concern.

I found out that Melvia Jean Harrison was a great deal more

than a sick person. She was not going to be defined by her

disease. She was going to be vastly more than a person

whose options were limited by illness. She was going to be

far more than someone struggling for the breath of life.

Melvia Harrison did not define herself as nothing more than a

suffering patient; she saw herself as one who was being

healed and becoming whole. In our visit, Melvia told me

about her disease only because I pressed her for

information. But she was far more interested in talking about

other things. She was clear that I was there to meet Melvia

Jean Harrison, the whole person, and not just Melvia the

bearer of breathing tubes!

Does that give us a clue about the God who is presumed to

heal all our diseases? Listen to the way the Psalmist points

to the allness of God.


“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits

– who forgives all your iniquity.” God’s desire for us to be

whole begins with His intention to deal with all of our spiritual

sickness. God forgives all our iniquity; God deals first with

our spiritual disease.

I trust that no one will think me guilty of lack of respect if I

speak of Mrs. Harrison as in need of forgiveness, because all

of us are in need of forgiveness. The Bible says that “all

have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. There’s

that “all” word again. There are no exceptions. All have

sinned, all need forgiveness. But hear the good news: the

Lord forgives all our iniquities.

Melvia Harrison found that. Her heart yearned for a profound

and life-changing encounter with the living God. Like more

than a hundred members of this church, Melvia worked

through a discipleship course called, “Experiencing God”.

This course forces anyone who participates to examine his

own heart, to scrutinize motives, and, above all, the

“Experiencing God” course focuses on obedience – knowing

and then actually doing the will of God for your life. Melvia

worked through “Experiencing God” and there renewed her

confidence that God had dealt with her, not just out here on

the surface, but down at the very core of who she was. God

had dealt with the issue of sin.

If God is going to heal all our diseases, He must begin with

all our iniquities. He must begin with our spiritual selves.

Nothing else really happens until that is done. So today we

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