Thursday, May 31, 2007

To heal or not to heal

This is from a devotional I gave at work this week on Mark 10:46-52, the healing of Bartimaeus.

As we see in Mark 10:35-45, the disciples arguing amongst themselves over their own positions. James and John missed the point of what Jesus was about.

What a contrast this is to Bartimaeus, whose story is told in Mark 10:46-52. We see him showsing humility, faith, and persistence. He can’t physically see Jesus, but understands who he is better than the disciples. He must have heard of Jesus’ reputation as a healer, and seized the opportunity to approach him. He called him “Son of David;” which a Messianic title. Of course, we know that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David. This title is also used in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Jesus accepted Bartimaeus’s affirmation of him as the Messiah. He was not the military figure the crowd was expecting.

Jesus healed Bartimaeus, and immediately he followed Jesus. He could now see him physically as well as spiritually. On the way to Jerusalem for the Passover, as we all know, Jesus will later encounter religious leaders whose blindness to Jesus contrasts to the faith of Bartimaeus. He believed in him before he could see him, but the religious leaders did neither.

To my mind, all of this raises the issue of healing. It’s interesting to note that in faith, Bartimaeus asked Jesus for healing, and he received it, and went on following Jesus afterwards. What do we say in our day and age? Christians with long-term health problems and other afflictions might spend years praying or having others pray for their deliverance or healing, and not receive it. What do we say to them? Often the response to this question from other Christians is less than helpful. It's easy to understand why ill Christians can often go through crises of faith.

We also high profile evangelists, who shall not be named here, who travel the world running healing crusades. Their critics assert that they give people false hope. Rather than looking to Jesus, hope for healing is based on putting trust in the evangelist or donating money to their organisation. They claim that God will heal by a trickle down effect, often saying words to the effect of, "Believe for a miracle in your life. Make an offering to my ministry, and you will be healed."

I don’t have much time for people like that. If you know anything about some of my life experiences, or read my testimony, you’d understand why.

As I read through the Gospels and the remainder of the New Testament, I see that God can and does heal, but when He does, it’s for His glory alone, and not for the person doing the healing to take all the glory for themselves.

I’m not saying I don’t believe in healing. I’ve seen it, but haven’t experienced it personally (yet). In my time, I’ve prayed for healing for people, and have been prayed for myself, but haven’t been healed. I’ve been to healing services at my church where I’ve had hands laid on me and been anointed with oil, with no result. The last time such a service was held, I didn’t go forward for prayer. This either indicates unbelief or lack of faith on my part, or an acceptance that perhaps it's not in God's will for me to be healed. This will of course have implications in limiting possibilities for areas of ministry and service.

If God doesn’t heal you, He will give you the grace and strength to carry on, and to serve Him as you are able. They’re just my views, and might not be much consolation to others, but they're the best answer I have at this point in time. If you think differently, than I’m open to correction.


Glen O'Brien said...

A lot of wisdom there Ross. Good on you.

Ross McPhee said...

There's a bit of me baring my soul there. I hope someone out there get something out of reading it.

Anonymous said...

Ross it is Shannon here. I have read this particular post several times, because it is a major point of contention for me. Not your post that was right on the mark. What my pet peeve is in relation to is everyone will be healed.

I know for me personally that healing won't come this side of heaven, physical healing that is. But one thing I was really challengend on is my attitude on how I view my weaknesses and disabilities. For me that was more the issue than the actual physical problem I have. I am not saying this is the case for you, but for me it was a major hurdle to get over! sometimes it still is but not so much.
What surprises me so much, is the fact that we all think that God can use us more if we are all physically perfect, or mentally fantastic. Often I forget the verse, In your weakness Christ is strong. (I am not sure where that is in scripture but I know its there.)

An as for having a lack of faith, I don't think you should even consider that. You should consider that you are used by God every day just the way you are, and if you were any other way you wouldn't be Ross and that would be a shame. Thus ends my vent!

Ross McPhee said...


I think the verse you're thinking of is 1 Corinthians 12:9. This is where the apostle Paul, talking about his "thorn in the flesh." He accepts that it will not be taken away from him, as he prayed. Instead, God will give him the power to bear up under it. Whatever this thorn in the flesh is, this passage has been a consolation to me.

Thanks for the encouragement too. My statement about a lack of faith on my part comes from recently attending a healing service, and choosing to not go forward for prayer. A friend put me on the spot about this, and asked me whether or not I believed that God can heal, or if God wanted to heal me. I think I said yes, but whether or not it's God's will to heal me is another issue altogether. This post partially comes from me pondering this question.

Anonymous said...

Ross it is Shannon again, ( I am not sure how to become unanonymous, so I'll have stay that way.) Anyway thanks for the reply, your scripture recall is better than mine I see, (not hard though, I am hopeless at memorisation.)

The question that came to my mind after reading your reply was, what if God doesn't heal you? Would you be content then?
I don't want to be nosey or over step the mark, it was just something I was wondering.
Okay well enough from me.

James Garth said...

This is a very profound post. I agree, there's lots of wisdom in there. Great stuff.

Ross McPhee said...

Shannon, as I said in my original post, in grappling with this question, I've come up with the best answer I can at this point in time. I haven't given up altogether, but either way, the only thing I can do is trust and persevere as best I can.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ross I did read that originally, but I wasn't with it. Shannon