I'm doing some training next week on Evangelism and Youth Work with two friends of mine. I've been asked to talk about healing in one of the sections (I love speaking about healing) so I did some prep today. As I was writing about God's heart for healing and Jesus' example I felt faith stir in my heart again. I so need that.
I've been praying for the sick now on and off for about 11 years. I've seen some amazing healings as God's Kingdom has come in people's lives and I thank God for that. But what I've seen is nothing compared to what is possible with God. I've really only been scratching the surface.
More recently I've been aware of the importance of getting my theology on healing 'sorted' in order to pray with increased faith against sickness. In order to be more sure of what God's heart is everytime I pray. So that I won't lower scripture to fit my experience, but instead I will cry out to God again and again, that my experience would come into line with what the Bible teaches. So what have I learnt?
1) God loves to heal. In Exodus He calls Himself 'the Lord who is forever the healer.' Healing is at the very core of who God is. It's what He does and what he loves to do.
2) Sickness is not God's plan. There wasn't sickness in the Garden of Eden and there won't be sickness in heaven. Sickness is a sign of the enemy's kingdom not the Kingdom of God. I really believe that God wants everyone to be healed.
Some people believe that God gives us sickness to teach us stuff. That just doesn't sit right with me. Of course God can teach us stuff through sickness - He always brings good stuff out of difficult circumstances - but I can't believe that He actually gives it to us. What earthly parent (though they are evil) would do such a thing? How much less our perfect Heavenly Father! If you really believe God gives sickness to teach us stuff then you should never go to the doctor or the hospital or take medication!
3) Jesus is our role model. He is the image of the invisible God - if you want to know God's heart for healing look at Jesus. Jesus healed the sick all the time; everywhere He went. He never told anyone that they needed to remain sick a bit longer as they had more stuff to learn. Everyone who came to Him for healing He healed! I'm longing for the day when everyone I pray for is healed too. That's the standard Jesus sets and so that's what I'm going after.
What about Job? As Bill Johnson says, 'I'm not a disciple of Job, I'm a discple of Jesus Christ.' If you base your theology of healing on the story of Job then you are elevating that truth above the truth of Jesus.
What about Paul's thorn? I don't believe it was sickness. When Paul lists in detail all the hardships he's been through in his life (shipwreck, flogging, prison etc) he doesn't mention sickness once?!
My current experience is no-where near the standard of scripture. I have two choices: I either give up praying for the sick, defeated. Or I cry out to God for more of His presence and more of His power. Actually, there's only really one option!