Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Doesn't God Heal Everyone Who Asks?

When I was growing up, one of my best friends was Nathan Fischner who was born with a whole in his back (spina bifida).  He could walk only with a full lower-body brace and custom crutches, but he was an expert wheel chair racer and taught me the art and joy of the stationary wheelie.  Nathan is trained as a computer scientist, but for now he is working as a gem cutter.
A few years ago, I was preaching about a story of Jesus' healing a lame man, and I remembered Nathan.  I wondered how he reads this text and how he deals with the issue of healing from the perspective of one who has a life-long handicap.  His response - which has been percolating for quite some time - is thoughtful, personal, vulnerable, and at times profound.  With his permission, I am glad to post his answer here.

Nathan Fischner: You asked me in an email some years ago why it was that one does not say, "Rise up and walk!" to one who needs healing, and then send them on their way.  Why DON'T we ALL just go around mass healing the injured, disabled, and sick.  It seems so simple... and yet so many stay as they are.  The world God has made is a very big place, in terms of the possibilities of expressing his love to those he created in his own image.  There must, therefore, be more to it than it first seems.

I say that when it is revealed to us in terms we understand, we must accept God's will as a small trusting child would, without agenda and without expectations other than he is our Father and wants the best for us.  That being said, we are taught by Jesus himself to go into a quiet, secluded room, and, by the model prayer He gave us, to think on a much larger prayer than simply a need.  One is to acknowledge Him, His greatness and authority, and to truly rejoice before Him concerning what He has done for them and what this person has seen Him do for others (thankfulness isn't just presenting a list of items you have noticed done for you).  A little child, as we are meant to envision, comes to the Father saying "Please, fix this.", because the child has reached the end of his/her own resources, and the problem is something that they don't feel they can go on past without help.

My dad says that God has never broken the laws of nature that He Himself created for any reason but that we should believe.  If you accept this idea, it seems to add more method to His habits in healing or other miracles.  It requires the presence of at least one who IS ready to believe for life, or at least in true potential.   Jesus himself told his disciples that the extraordinary things they had seen him do were done so that they and others may believe.

Incidents of people in need are as varied as human conditions themselves.  We as humans are not fully equipped to sort out matters of who should and shouldn't "be healed."  The fact is that God answers every single prayer handed down to Him, be it through silence, or a helping along in the search for answers, or a direct word answer, or a booming voice that all around can hear, or some other sign He chooses.

When Jesus healed the old woman who simply HAD to seek him out in a crowd JUST to touch the corner of his cloak, *knowing* she would be healed, He had her confess before the disciples that she had touched Him to be healed and told her that her faith had healed her.  Faith like that certainly isn't seen by MY eyes every day.  But there is more to it than an old woman of faith going to the Master for healing.  What of the crowds?  What of the disciples?  He didn't just feed the 5000 so their stomachs' growling wouldn't drown out his teaching.  He was giving them spiritual food as well.  Because of who he had revealed himself to be to his disciples, he could hardly stand around and do no more.  It would seemingly disprove his prior words to them!

In today's society we are inundated with "Here it is!" and "There it is!" type statements regarding spiritual topics regularly.  I have come to personally believe that God has in store a set of paths unique to each of us, if we will only believe.  How do we do THAT??? By going to him like a little child, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, learning and bettering ourselves and helping others, allowing God's love to be evident to those who would believe.  Even a human parent does not live the child's life for them, but the parent DOES nurture the child and pick them up when the child falls.  

     These things being now said as foundations of information to draw from, I will begin a more direct answer to your thoughts.  "Why would the Lord NOT heal me!?" It is a heartbreaking question that I myself have asked, and I'm sure untold millions of others before and after me probably ask as well.  The simplest answer that I have found is that he CAN and WILL heal you if you believe!  We must, however, redefine our expectations of healing, if we are to understand what God has in store for us.  
     I've been physically disabled since I was born.  I have grown and lived and breathed the life of a disabled person.  I had my last dream of walking one night when in was in my early teens.  The answers to all the "what if's" that come to mind will only be revealed in heaven.  What I wish to show you in speaking of my own journey is that I have come to understand that I am sometimes an inspiration to others' walks of life, and MOST of the people that have told me outright that I was inspiring in some way or other CAN WALK.  This *proves* to me that there is much more to be healed in a person beyond their physique.  It also shows me that ministry is far more than an "exchange" of information from the one who testifies to the one expressing spiritual need.  But what is it about me that inspires others???  In short, it MUST be that they see a glimpse of God's warmth and love in some aspect of my actions, and they choose to acknowledge it.  Expressing and living in God's warmth and love is a CHOICE!  It is one available to all that hear the message.  It is a journey that one either chooses to pursue, or ignores in search of other methods of getting through life.
    "Why does God heal this one and not THAT one???  Would they not BOTH believe???"  My answer is a seemingly cold one for this question... God is in control and He knows best what it is that we all, each and individually need.  Saying to yourself - "I would have certainly healed THAT person!" - totally ignores your own professed faith in God in favor of smiting him, as best you can, across the face with his own wisdom.  We are called to seek His Word and follow His teachings and to show His love to ALL the people we come in contact with.  This includes those who need healing.  If those that need healing truly believe, then once they hear the message, they will embark upon their OWN journey to figuratively touch the Master's cloak because they simply MUST SEE HIM.

In closing, there are SCORES of documented unexplained cases of healing as a result of faith.  And there is a song my dad sang concerning Paul's "thorn in [his] flesh" that he had prayed to have removed, and yet it remained.  This song was called "The Blessing in the Thorn".  I have no intention of telling ANYONE, *EVER*, that they should just accept their thorn and not pray for help, but there is so much more to life and to believing than praying for thorn removal and expecting it to be healed instantly!

It is NOT ENOUGH that one seeks God in a church.  Churches, denominations, and doctrines are made of and by people respectively.  People AND the churches they build are subject to human error.  Only the God that the people seek is flawless.

It has taken years of personal searching to even begin to give you an answer that isn't just a batch of If's and Maybe's.  I hope you will forgive the tardiness.

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