Today dear reader, I am going to tell you about some things that you may find it hard to believe. But please stay with me, it will be worth your time.
Last week, I posted this:
Yesterday, I was informed that he had been given a clean bill of health. For which I thank my Lord.
My own health struggles over the past nine years have been fairly well documented, and those who know me well are quite familiar with what has taken place. But I want you to know and understand how those things have helped to shape my faith.
A few years ago, I wrote these words in my devotional journal:
“Why do we see so much less of the miraculous happening then Jesus said we would?
You can pray for anything, and if you have faith you will receive it. (Matthew 21 : 22 TLB).
I have spent a lot of time pondering this question. For the past year or so, I felt specifically challenged by the idea that I wrote about in this post:
My continuing prayer, since then, has been: “Lord, please mould and my heart and reshape my thinking so that I begin to believe with conviction that you will respond and answer my prayers. I don’t want to remain stuck believing only that you can answer prayer.”
I began to reread and rethink my understanding of miracles
For example, the woman with the bleeding problem who snuck through the crowd just to touch the hem of Jesus cloak. Someone that desperate had to be thinking, “If I can just get close enough to him I will be healed. That is the kind of faith that makes things happen. If she merely believed that she could be healed, that would have been far too passive and weak. No, her faith made it happen. (ref. Matthew 9 : 21,22).
Then the example of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof by his friends. (ref. Mark 2 : 1-12).
After years of childhood Sunday school lessons, I had always understood that it was the faith of the man’s four friends as evidenced by their perseverance.
But Jesus tells the man that it is his own faith that has opened the door to forgiveness and healing.
From that I infer that he must have kept begging and pleading his friends, “Guys, please, just get me to him. If you do that I know that I will be healed!” Telling his friends , just get me to him. If you do I know that I can be healed. That isn’t desperate enough thinking to compel four guys to dismantle a roof in front of a large crowd.
As a result, I have developed a firm conviction that my faith needs to believe that God will act in response to prayer.
However, those are examples of people who expected to be healed. There are other narratives to look into.
Early in the book of Acts, as Peter and John are headed to the temple for prayer, they meet and heal a man who has been lame and unable to walk since birth. Neither Peter nor John had developed any degree of notoriety or fame yet. So unlike encountering Jesus, the lame man had no reason to expect either that they could heal him or that they would heal him. Yet he is healed. Which means it was their bold faith not his that was on display. Even though it has only been a short time since Jesus had departed, they clearly fell back on what he had promised them with respect to performing miracles. (ref. John 14 : 12) and tried it out believing that the miracle would take place.
Now in each one of those narratives, the miracle is both instantaneous and visible. (at least to the person who was healed. Those things were verifiable. And there were many other narratives of which I have not written.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a lot of those type of miracles happen.
But there are a couple of exceptions that I can tell you about.
A couple of weeks ago, during a baptismal service held at our church, one of the candidates for water baptism was a young girl who testified of how she had been healed from a lifetime of food sllergies, at a church service a few weeks earlier. The pastor had preached on healing and extended an invitaton for people to come forward for prayer. At the altar, as she was prayed over, she was healed of a litany of very real food allergies. To prove the point, she had brought a container of ice cream to church with her on the day that she was to be baptized and enjoyed eating some of it in front of witnesses.
That Sunday morning, wen I heard her story, I knew, beyond all doubt that the next time a call was given to come forward for prayer for healing that my turn would be coming and that God will do something miraculous.
Since that morning, I have been playing the song “I’m trading my sorrows,” by Darrell Evans, over and over again. It is my current campsite.
I recommend that you look up the song and listen to it.
But let me bring all of this full circle and get back to my friend.
I was deliberately vague about his health troubles when I first told you about him.
But I feel comfortable in saying now that the issue was cancer.
To me, this illness is somewhat akin to what leprosy was back in Jesus’ time.
For people who contracted it, it was life-altering.
It meant a diagnosis of hopelessness. Nothing could be done for the leper but to cast him or her out of society to die.
Cancer is typically a death sentence as well, and people often withdraw from society.
Well I knew that this was my opportunity. The test of all that I had been thinking on.
So after telling my friend that I would pray for him, I took it on and got aggressively expectant with my prayers. I was determined that a miracle was going to take place.
I remember riding the bus one afternoon last week and fearlessly rebuking the disease and casting it out of my friends body. I was firmly believing that God would perform the miracle for which I was asking. I was not going to be satisfied with just believing that God could do it.
Of course, unless it is a skin melanoma, cancer is internal. No one will see the healed tissues. So how was I to know whether or not my faith had made a difference?
There is one narrative in the bible that helped to provide me with some understanding on this.
In the book of Matthew, we are told the story of how Jesus healed a man with leprosy, (ref. Matthew 8 : 1-4).
In this narrative, the first thing that Jesus instructs the cleansed man to do is to go and show himself to the priest and to present the offering required in the Old Testament law.
So, even though the man had been healed physically, it wasn’t official until he had completed that last step.
From that, I knew that even when God did act it wouldnot be official until it had been verified by doctors and that there was nothing wrong with that. Going to a doctor for verification that a miracle had indeed taken place was not an indication of weak faith. Just like the former leper required official confirmation from the priest. When something that can not be seen, such as cancer is healed, it still requires official confirmation from a doctor.
So yesterday, on FB when my friend told of the good news that he had just received from his doctor, my only comment was “I have been waiting to hear that.”
And now, my old friend, you know why. As Paul Harvey always used to say on the radio; ““And now you know the rest of the story.”