Lesley (my spouse) has been under the weather for the past week. Every time I get sick, I can always remember most when it is over and how good it feels to feel good again! It is better than any gift anyone could buy you. But that makes it hard, even when you are feeling fine, to see someone you love who feels less than stellar. You remember what that felt like. It makes you wonder what, if anything, you can do.
Some Christian traditions hold healing services. Some of the more flamboyant ones heal people live on television. Since Jesus healed people and the disciples healed people, shouldn’t we be able to heal people too? My answer to this is that God is the one who heals people. God heals them with a purpose and at certain times. I do not judge the medium he does this (who am I to judge after all?) . I do have doubts about the sincerity of some of those public healing folks but I rejoice when it works for any who gather there for help. And I also believe that all Christians churches should have healing services (not just the flamboyant ones). And we all should be praying for healing in every service and visiting the sick. It makes a difference. I have seen it. And I do pray, regularly, at home and in worship for the sick.
But the challenge is understanding that we do not understand God’s will all the time and it surely isn’t God’s will to dispense with sickness in this life. Jesus came to the world to offer eternal life, not to dispense with temporal sicknesses. In our eternal lives he promises us there will be no more sickness and no more death. But if none of us got sick in this world, most of us would not die and our world does not have the resources to sustain an unlimited number of human beings. This is, of course, cold comfort to anyone who loves someone who is sick, particularly if they are suffering. It is also challenging when one is healed and another is not and this has nothing to do with the righteousness of the healed person (or their families) or the lack of righteousness of the person who remains ill (or their families). God’s grace is mysterious but very real.
I believe, in the end, what we are called to do is trust. We trust that God is with us through it all and knows what needs to happen. He is there, just like a married couple vow to one another, “in sickness and in health.” For those of us who are healthy – we are called to pray, and tend to the sick. We are also called to pray and support medical professionals. There are many good souls who dedicate their lives to healing using the best science that human beings have figured out. We owe them much and they act for God in many a situation.
And let us give thanks for the times when we do feel good (and our loved ones feel good). For most of us, God gives us lives filled with good health. Let us cherish those days and help others, the best we can, to return to them when they are ill.