God Who Heals…

“Sanctuary,” copyright 2017, Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

I’ve been battling a virus for about 12 days.  Of course, it’s nothing by comparison to my battle with cancer ten years ago.

Yet, the virus has served to remind me how much I hate being sick.  And that I’m not as strong and independent as I like to believe I am.   Tough girl?  Well, not so much this week.

Without a doubt, I have been down for the count.

Once again, I’ve seen  just how dependent I am upon God for my every breath.   Very little seems to matter when one is extremely sick.  I guess that’s why so many say, “Health is everything.”

When I’m sick, I find I am thankful for things that I take for granted when all goes well for me.  Water, a warm blanket and a comfy chair count as life’s greatest treasures when a virus comes to call.

I find myself singing along with Eliza Doolittle of My Fair Lady fame, “All I want is a room somewhar, far away from the cold night air,  with one enormous chair… Ahh, wouldna it be loverly?

Indeed, when I’m under-the-weather, I frequently catch myself saying, “I’m tired and I wanna go home.”

Funny that.  No matter how old I am, there are times that I still long for the comforts that my parents provided me once upon a time…

Mom always had the perfect remedy for every ache and sniffle.

Dad could fix anything.

Yeah. Sometimes, I think it would be nice to be a little girl once more.  This adult thing can wear a person down.

I’m guessing that you sometimes feel the same.

It certainly seems the older we get, the more broken the world appears, and the bigger the breaks become.

Understandably,  we often long to run home or perhaps, another safe place with all our broken pieces, hurts and sniffles.

But even if my parents still walked on terra firma, there are some things that are just too big for even Mom and Dad to fix.

Maybe, that’s why I love the story of the blind man in chapter 9 of John’s gospel.

That’s right. John recorded the testimony of a man whose difficulties defied even the love and extraordinary efforts of his parents.  Biblical scholars note that this man was the only congenitally blind man that our Lord healed.

As Jesus and his disciples walked, they noted the blind man, and the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1).

Obviously, the disciples’ question revealed a number of cultural premises regarding illness during Jesus’ day.

The non-Jews, like many worldly people of today, bought into a belief similar to reincarnation… thus, the man’s blindness would have been the result of bad behavior from a previous life.

And many Jewish leaders embraced the idea that the sins of the fathers were passed down generation-by-generation.

Both the secular and religious views of that day attempted to place blame for the man’s condition.  That being said, I’m sure the man’s parents had sought help for their boy throughout their lives.  What parent would not, especially if that parent felt to blame for a child’s handicap?

Their child’s blindness, however, required help beyond their power to give.  Of course, neither the man nor his parents were to blame for his blindness.

Since Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden, pain, illness and death have been no respecters of persons.   When Adam and Eve stepped away from God–the source of life–humanity as a whole suffered.

But what I find interesting is that Jesus didn’t even go there.  Jesus did not engage in theological argument.

Perhaps, that’s because He knew that ultimately such arguments skew our focus.  The disciples concern revolved around blaming a particular party.

Job experienced this kind of judgement from his well-meaning friends.  They questioned his past, his life and looked for a fault that they might blame.

And in essence, they tried to find a way to avoid the repetition of suffering in the future.  The discussion focused on what Job did or might do.

It’s a very human response.  We all love DIY.  We look for a way to work ourselves out of a mess.  If there is a problem, we consider how we might avoid it.

And if we have avoided it and someone else has not, we congratulate ourselves.

Without a doubt, assigning blame gives us a sense of control over our circumstances.  Unfortunately, it often results in the kind of self-help that  fosters self-righteousness. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t help anyone.

But Jesus did not get caught in his disciples’ fruitless argument.  He assigned neither blame nor credit to the man or his parents.

Instead, Jesus immediately redirected the twelve, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life,” (John 9: 3).

Had the man or his parents sinned?  Yes, undoubtedly.  As the apostle Paul has written, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

However, in this case, a particular sin did not cause the man’s blindness.

Instead of judging the man’s past, Jesus’ disciples were to offer grace and  hope for the man’s future.

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me.  Night is coming, when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” Jesus said, (John 9:4,5).

The work of Him who sent me…

As I read through the gospels, Christ’s mission becomes clear.  Christ said again and again that He came to “seek and to save the lost,” (Luke 19:10).

And in John 3: 16-17, He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Jesus did not allow himself to get caught up in the blame game.  Such debate did not accomplish God’s work.  Rather, Christ rescued the sick and saved the lost.  He never lost sight of His Father’s heart for the broken, the sick or the lost.

Oh how easy it is to become distracted by philosophical and theological argument!    But such argument waylays us.  We get side-tracked, and wander far from the mission of mercy that God has given us as Christ’s followers.

But lest we are too hard on ourselves, remember that even the disciples bogged down in minutiae while a man suffered.

Jesus thus gently reminded them to see the man’s situation in a different light; Jesus saw an opportunity to display God’s great grace and glory.  Our Savior knew the Father’s love for lost sheep.

He focused not on what man had done or failed to do. He did not place confidence in human strength.  Instead, He saw what His Father longed to do on behalf of His hurting and broken children.

Day-after-day, the blind man sat outside of the temple and in darkness.  A man without hope.

Jesus knew, however, that the solution to our heartbreak, our illnesses, our griefs, our hopelessness was not hard work, but a restored relationship with Jehovah-Rapha, “God, our Healer.”

Simple as that.

It’s not about what we do, but about what God does and has done on our behalf.

Jesus leaned in and offered healing.  He placed mud on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

Sure, Jesus could have healed the man right on the spot.  He’d done just that on many occasions.  Jesus also could have healed the man without ever touching the man’s eyes.  Christ had previously demonstrated such power.

However, Jesus told the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  John actually translates “Siloam” for us. He tells us it means “sent.”

Of course, Jesus never made any random requests.  He lived purposefully.  So what was the point of the man washing in the pool of Siloam?

Evidently, Jesus’ miracle entailed so much more than the restoration of the blind man’s physical sight.  After all, God cares more about our spiritual condition than He does about anything else.  Our physical condition is temporary; our spiritual state is eternal.

Jesus knew that Jehovah-Rapha would use the miraculous to draw the man to faith.  The restoration of physical sight would bring about the man’s spiritual renewal.  Going to the pool of Siloam represented a first step of faith for the man who had lived his life in darkness.

The blind man was sent by the One sent by Jehovah-Rapha.   His obedience demonstrated His dependence and faith in Christ.  He took a baby-step.  And God healed him.

The remainder of the account unveils the growth of his fledgling faith.  The religious leaders tried to undermine the man’s testimony.  They called on the man’s parents and hoped to discredit the man.  Then, they sought to deny any credit to Christ.

Yet, in all their convoluted arguments, the truth became more clear.

The healed man testified, “Now that is remarkable!  You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.  We know that God does not listen to sinners.  He listens to the godly man who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing,” (John 9: 30-33).

The healed man not only regained his physical sight but he found spiritual sight that day as well.

John tells us that Jesus sought the man after He heard the man had been thrown out of the temple for his testimony.   John tells us that when the man realized that it was Jesus who had healed him, he worshiped Christ.

Yes, our God heals all our broken-ness–physical, emotional and spiritual.  We have come to know Him as our Great Physician, Jehovah-Rapha as He is so named in Exodus 15:22-26.

Abba heals broken hearts as well as diseases, (Isaiah 53:5). He restores relationships.  He renews a right spirit in you and me, ( Psalm 51:10).

If we ask in faith, will God heal our physical diseases in this life?   Yes, He will and often does.

But not always.

Paul acknowledges this in Romans 8: 22-23, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

We ask. We pray. We obey.  And we look for His miracle.  Sometimes, the miracle comes immediately.

Sometimes, we wait.

“Our God heals all of our broken-ness–physical, emotional and spiritual.  We have come to know Him as our Great Physician, Jehovah-Rapha as He is so named in Exodus 15:22-26.

Abba heals broken hearts as well as diseases, (Isaiah 53:5). He restores relationships.  He renews a right spirit in you and me, (Psalm 51:10).

If we ask in faith, will God heal our physical diseases in this life?  Yes, He will and often does.

But not always.

Paul acknowledges this in Romans 8: 22-23, ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’

We ask. We pray. We obey.  And we look for His miracle.  Sometimes, the miracle comes immediately.

Sometimes, we wait.

And while we wait, God gives great grace, (2 Corinthians 12:9).

But as we wait for our ultimate healing, we hang onto this truth: God uses all things to draw us into a closer and deeper relationship with Him.

Indeed, God always seeks our eternal good. And our dependence on Him reveals His grace and glory in our lives.

Jesus explained, “…but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed…” (John 9:3).

The apostle Paul–who personally understood what it meant to wait for God’s ultimate healing–wrote, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,’ (Romans 8:28).

Yes, Abba’s perfect plan will bring about our complete healing–physical, emotional and spiritual.  But in the meantime, we know the Great Physician works for the good of His children.

And as long as it is day, we must do the work of our Heavenly Father. For this reason, we follow Our Savior’s example and offer grace and healing wherever we can, (John 9:4).

  “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy,” ~Romans 9:16

“For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” ~Romans 8:18

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s,” ~Psalm 103: 2-5

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