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Being Healed

August 31, 2013

I’ve been thinking about healing, or more accurately about being healed. Now, most of the time when I think of healing I think of physical healing. The sort of healing that Jesus gave to the crippled woman in Luke 13.11-12. That is healing, and it still happens today. I know of many cases of God acting through the Spirit to heal people. It does happen, but physical healing alone in not enough. Being fit and well are great things but they alone do not bring contentment. Healing is about far more than physical bodies or even than bodies and minds.

Then I was reminded of a story, it’s a true story about people from a church a long way from where I am now. The story involves a very devout woman whom I will call ‘Joan’. Joan was blessed with a good husband and many loving children, but there was a great sadness about Joan. I soon found the cause for that sadness, Joan’s youngest daughter ‘Mary’ had been born severely mentally and physically disabled. After tests, Joan was told the her beautiful Mary would never be more than a toddler: Her brain would not develop and she would never walk or talk like ‘normal’ children.

Joan was devastated. She prayed for healing, she took Mary to church for healing, she went to big healing events organised by the church, but Mary’s condition remained the same. Then Joan went on a long retreat. She was angry that God was not listening, and she needed time away from the pressures of her family to sort things out, or more accurately she needed time away for God to sort things out.

After one of the sessions, the person leading the retreat asked to speak with her privately. He said that he thought he had received an answer for her from God. And the answer was that God wanted to heal, but it wasn’t Mary that needed healing, it was Joan. Mary was as she was supposed to be, but Joan needed healing; healing to let go of what she wanted from Mary; Joan needed healing to welcome Mary into her family, as a perfectly lovely daughter, and equal to all her other children.

Joan was angry, then she was confused, but finally she allowed herself to listen, and be healed. Joan was healed and Mary was a loving addition to Joan’s family. Mary had the knack of bringing love out of people, from her parents, her brothers and sisters, the people at church, even people in the street. Mary needed no healing, and the healed Joan that I last saw was one of the most, loving, inspiring women of faith that I have met.

I learned so much from Joan. I learned that healing, true healing, has more to do with being restored to the physical, mental and spiritual health I was meant to have and very little to do with what I want. Healing is also not just a personal thing. Healing also means healthy and loving relationships. I need healing, communities of faith need healing, in everything that we do and say, and think need healing. Together, we need the sort of healing that Isaiah talks about in chapter 58. The sort of healing that starts with us. Here’s Isaiah on the subject:

9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumours!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a re-builder of walls
and a restorer of homes. (Isaiah 58.9-12 New Living Version)

This is healing for all. For me, for my congregation, for my town and its surrounding villages. We can bring healing, to the people you see each day: we can bring healing to our neighbours, and everyone that we meet.

How? Well, I don’t know about you but I need to let the Spirit heal me from the inside out. I know I need to let the Spirit make me more loving, more gentle. I must stop blaming anyone but me for my failings. I must stop pointing the finger and accept that I need healing so that I can shine in the darkness; I need to stop blaming society for its ills and get on and be a “re-builder of walls and a restorer of homes.” When I pray for healing, I need to remember that it may be me that needs healing, perhaps it’s the same with you?

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