Summary: The Church of the Nazarene recognizes the role of science and medicine, but affirms the miraculous power of God to intervene and offer divine healing.
Article of Faith #14 - Divine Healing
Date: Sunday, September 12, 2004
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
If you turned on the television last night, you were probably confronted again with images of the terrorist attacks from three years ago. You may have watched some of the coverage, remembering the numbers of lives that were lost at the time. During one the segments that I watched, two people who had managed to escape the building alive were interviewed, indicating that they don’t go through a day without thinking of the way that life changed for them three years ago. Their entire perspective on life has been changed, as they have realized how fleeting life can be. One lady, in an effort to explain how her life had changed since safely escaping the building said, “I truly did die that day,” indicating that her life now is nothing like it was on September 10th, 2001.
Anytime there is a tragedy with survivors, people are faced with the question, “why me? Why was I spared while another wasn’t?” A term, “survivor’s guilt” has been coined to explain the emotions felt by a survivor who wonders why they were spared while another died in the tragedy. Sometimes survivors feel truly guilty that another person died while they were allowed to live.
These questions that we wrestle with are the same questions that cause us to be nervous when approaching an article of faith on Divine Healing. We know that God doesn’t choose to heal every time we ask Him to. We wonder why some people are healed and others aren’t. We even experience a sense of nervousness when coming to be anointed; for fear that it might appear that we have weak faith because we were not healed. The pastor even loses sleep the night before, afraid that a parishioner might interpret God’s inactivity as evidence of the pastor’s lack of faith. And then, we realize that we’ve entered into the entire time of a healing service by expressing doubt that we will see a miracle.
The fact is, we’re quite perplexed about this doctrine of healing. We believe in healing, and we’ve seen miracles, and at the same time we’re plagued with questions about why God doesn’t always choose to heal the way that we expect Him to. We know that there is no secret formula to guarantee God’s miraculous intervention, and yet we are tempted to doubt our own faith when we continually pray and don’t see the answer we would hope for.
Today, we continue our journey through the Nazarene Articles of Faith, with Article number Fourteen: Divine Healing--
18. We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people to seek to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science.
This is perhaps the simplest statement we’ve dealt with so far, as the language is clear with no $20 theological words that need definition. Simply put, we believe that God heals through divine intervention, and that we should offer prayers, in faith, asking God to heal the sick. And, while we believe in divine intervention, we also believe that God has given gifts and abilities to humanity which have allowed for medical and scientific intervention which also cure the sick. Going to the doctor can be just as much an affirmation of faith in God’s healing abilities as coming to this altar for prayer and anointing, if trust ourselves to God’s care while under the care of the physician.
And yet, while this is a simple doctrine from a linguistic standpoint, it raises all sorts of practical and theological concerns for us. We want to know how God heals. We want to know why He heals. And, we want to know why He sometimes doesn’t heal. It would be easier if we could put God in a box and expect Him to do what we want Him to do. It would be easier if He were predictable and understandable. And yet, there is a recognition that He is the Creator of the universe, and simply doesn’t have to answer to us.
Before we go any further, let us take a moment to look at why we believe in Divine Healing. One the one hand we have modern experiential evidence of God’s miraculous working in our lives. Cancer cells that were there one day are gone the next. Unborn babies that didn’t look like they would ever make it to full-term are now happy and healthy toddlers. Family relationships that looked like they might turn into World War Three have been reconciled by miraculous intervention. Indeed, God does miracles even today!
But before that, we have scriptural evidence of God’s healing hand at work in the lives of His creation. In Second Kings chapter five, we read of the healing of the commander of a foreign army by the name of Naaman.