Summary: Sometimes healing does not come until we ask for it.
Remember back to when you were a kid. Did you ever want to be superman? After all, he was the strongest guy in the world. He could fly anywhere—without the FAA’s approval. If you had to confess this morning, how many of you tied a bed sheet around your neck and jumped off your bed or something higher, wishing you had a super huge “S” on your chest? We are enamored with this figure of strength because we are not that strong. In fact, Christopher Reeves who played Super Man, is now paralyzed after falling from a horse. Falling from a horse! We are fragile. Life is short! The good news for Christopher Reeves is that just this week, he can now wiggle toes and fingers after several long months of no movement. When I heard about his slight recovery, I thought again, how we are not guaranteed tomorrow and that we are so fragile. And when I saw his toes moving on the news, I thought of God’s healing. As Christians, we ought to see everything as it relates to our faith. When we are sick, we need to look for God’s healing. In Super Man’s case, he may never walk again un-assisted, but God’s healing takes different forms. Why is it that God heals some and not others? Some go through the same sickness or surgery and one recovers , one suffers. Why is that?
I was privileged to attend Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore Kentucky for my Master degree. One of its early presidents, Dr. J.C. McPheeters taught that there were at least 5 miracles of healing that he could find evidence for from his own experience and study of the scriptures.
1. The miracle of instant cure through faith and prayer. This is the one we all want to experience when we need healing. We want it now, and pray for God to do it immediately. Last night on television, the movie “The Green Mile” was playing. Some of you have seen it. It features a black man in the 1920’s rural south, who has the gift of healing and feeling other’s pain. The interesting thing about this movie is that the healing does not glorify God in the least. It is our culture’s way of secularizing even the act of healing. But this is the way we like to see someone healed—this instant—now. The movie won all kinds of awards because, I think, the world is looking for someone, something that has the power to heal their wounds and pain.
2. The miracle of God’s undertaking. This miracle is God giving us the natural capacity to be healed through nature, medical science, doctors and nurses. We all pray hard for this miracle especially as we see patients wheeled off for surgery, or as we wait to see if medical or psychological treatment can alleviate the person’s problem.
3. The miracle of God’s guidance to remedy the situation. God guides us to the right doctor or medication, or hospital that can provide the kind of help we specifically needed. Or perhaps, God provides the right friend or counselor with whom we can share our deep hurts. It may be a service of worship like this one where the Word of God is shared and we receive strength to live on and overcome the maladies of life. This is the miracle of God’s guidance.
4. The miracle of the sufficiency of God’s grace. The classic example from scripture of this miracle is Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’. Scholars are not absolutely sure what Paul’s thorn was for sure, but they think it may have been his eyesight. Do you remember Paul wrote on one occasion ‘see with what large letters I write’ and when Jesus encounters him on the road to Damascus his eyesight is affected. (When Jacob wrestled with God in the Old Testament, it left a lifelong scar). At any rate, Paul prayed and prayed that God would remove this obstacle from him, but instead God provided himself—through others help-- and that was enough. That is the miracle of God’s sufficiency.
Joni Eareckson Tada, paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming accident, wrote of her experiences of her disability and her faith. She became convinced of God’s healing power for her life. Several ministers gathered around her, laid hands on her and anointed her with oil while praying fervently—believing God could heal her if He wished. She fully expected God’s healing. When nothing seemed to change after one month then two, then three, Joni began to search the scriptures and prayed even harder. She sought to make sure she had not sinned, and she prayed with even more faith. It became clear to her and I quote “from time to time, God in his mercy, may grant us healing from disease as a gracious glimpse, a ‘sneak preview’ of what is to come. It is my opinion that he sometimes does heal. But, in view of the fact that the kingdom has not yet come in its fullness, we are not to automatically expect it.” God did not heal Joni. But her life is a testimony to the sufficiency of God’s grace. He has allowed her to paint with her teeth and write and speak about her experience and how God has provided the peace and comfort she needs from day to day.