Thursday, March 12, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 17: Jehovah Rapha, Healer of the Brokenhearted

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Jehovah Rapha

The previous post discussed the issue of physical healing and referenced the passage in James 5 about asking for healing. Healing our body is important, but we must remember that God is concerned about more than our physical ills. Scripture is replete with references to healing our emotional/spiritual hurts, as well. In fact, when Jesus presented His "mission statement", a quote from Isaiah 61, it included an important reference to healing emotional hurts but did not include a reference to physical healing (although He spent quite a bit of time healing and His healing ministry drew many people to faith in Him.) This is what Jesus said:

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...
Isaiah 61:1 NASB

If you've ever been sick or ever had a loved one with a significant illness, you know the longing to be healed as well as the devastation that illness can bring. As much as health issues can disrupt our lives, why didn't Jesus include physical healing in His mission statement? Perhaps one reason is that a fractured spirit is, in some ways, so much more damaging to our lives than physical illness. 

What? At first glance, that doesn't sound right, does it? When we experience devastating illness but, in the midst of that illness, are able to maintain our faith, hope, love, and peace, it is much easier to find cause for rejoicing in our suffering, much easier to focus our attention on Christ. When we have a fractured spirit, when we are brokenhearted, all our focus revolves around the source of our sorrow, whether our body is injured or not. We take our eyes off our Lord and place them on ourselves and our situation. That kind of perspective can never bring peace or joy. 

Rapha shabar leb chabash atstsebeth
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
        Psalm 147:3 NASB

It is our Lord's desire that we have abundant life, regardless of the circumstances that come our way. When we experience the hurts of life that leave us brokenhearted, the place to turn is to our Lord, who heals our hearts and binds up our wounds. If I turn to our Lord, Jehovah Rapha, with my broken heart, will He heal it? Absolutely! 

There's one condition to that, however. Healing requires that I allow Him to heal. I have to be a willing participant in healing, and sometimes that participation involves things like forgiveness, relinquishing bitterness or anger, or turning from a sin long enjoyed (judgmental, critical spirit, pride, etc). Is it hard to give up my right to hurt feelings, unforgiveness, anger, or any other sin I've embraced long enough to feel comfortable with it? Of course, but the benefits are more than emotional. Sin can be like a ball and chain we drag around, weighting us down. The freedom that comes from soul-healing brings with it peace, joy, and a lightness of spirit that is worth having. In fact, it often brings an improvement in physical conditions, as well. 

There is one more reason that the emphasis is on healing the brokenhearted rather than the physically ill. God's perspective is eternal. To Him, a thousand years is like a day. He cares about everything that touches us, of course, but His great concern is for the eternal, and our bodies are anything but eternal. Our soul, however, is eternal. It is our soul that goes to heaven, not this frail body, and God is constantly working in us to prepare us for that glorious eternity in which we will know no sorrow, no pain, no suffering. 

If God's desire is to make our eternal soul fit for eternity, should that not also be our desire? Yes! How, then, do we hallow His name, Jehovah Rapha, Healer of the Brokenhearted? We look past our physical ills and allow Him to examine our hearts, to look for the hurts, the wounds that sin has caused (whether ours or that of someone else), and invite Him to heal what must be healed, change what must be changed, and, in the doing, create in us not just a clean heart, but a wholly healed heart, as well.