Monday, February 12, 2018

Does Miraculous Healing Still Happen?

What comes to mind when you think of sickness and healing? Does the image in your head include doctors, nurses, surgery, medicine? What about pastors, elders, and anointing oil?

If the first image, of medical personnel, comes to mind, you're not wrong. Doctors are frequently used by God to bring healing to those who are sick and hurting. If your imagine of healing includes faith workers and anointing oil, you're not wrong, either.

Yesterday, our pastor taught from Mark 1:29-39 about divine healing. Peter's mother-in-law was seriously ill. Jesus arrived and Peter's family immediately told Jesus about her illness. He healed her, and she went straight to work, serving Him.

Pastor Scooter asked, "Does God still heal?"

If we're honest, most of us would answer that question with a "yes, but..." When that question becomes more specific, "Will God heal me?," we hesitate. We're less certain.

My pastor asked me to share the story of my eye problems during the service and explain how God intervened. In mid-December, my bathroom scales developed a problem. When I stepped on the scale, the light barely illuminated and the numbers were no longer visible. I changed the rechargeable batteries. No better. I bought regular batteries. No improvement. 

Oddly enough, I could stand on the scales until the weight was ready, hop off, and lie on the floor to get an image of the numbers. I thought the problem was with my scales, but I was wrong.

On a foggy day in early January, I headed to work and realized something terrifying. The fog outside was in my left eye, too. My vision was seriously blurred. 

I saw my ophthalmologist right way. Corneal edema (or swelling) had caused the blurred vision. He didn't know why it happened. Trauma, virus, and unknown cause were considered. I took anti-virals and used steroid drops. My eye improved. 

Soon, I developed a different corneal problem in my right eye. More eye drops. The right eye problem quickly resolved, but the left eye didn't heal as steadily. With the medication, it improved but, when the steroids were tapered, it worsened again and the possibility of a vision-losing problem was mentioned.

I spend my day reading a book or on a computer. My eyes are my most important tool, but the eye problem made work difficult. My eye hurt in the morning and light made it much worse. The vision was blurred early, but gradually improved as the day went on. I had to take breaks every 30 minutes or so to keep the blurriness at bay. I felt slowed down, and I was. The struggle left me exhausted by the end of the day. 

I did everything my doctors told me to do, but it didn't seem to be working as well as I'd hoped. I'm familiar with James 5, which says, if you're sick, call the elders and have them pray over you. I've seen God heal through the laying on of hands before, so I knew He might heal me. 

Before I asked, though, I had to confront a serious problem of faith. What if He didn't heal me? Could I deal with it if the vision loss didn't resolve, but worsened instead? I pondered it, explored options for working blind, and considered the lives of two friends, both of whom are blind physicians, still actively working. God will make a way through, I realized, no matter what happens with my eyes.

I prayed the prayer that never fails. "Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done. Even with my eyes." I wanted clear vision back, but I was willing to accept whatever God allowed. After I reached that hard place, I contacted my pastor and asked for the elders to pray for my healing.

The place of surrender is the perfect place to begin prayers for healing. 

Wednesday night, after Bible study, Pastor Scooter called the elders to the back to discuss a matter of prayer. Then, to my surprise, he called me to the back. This wasn't how I expected it to happen, but it didn't really matter what I expected. The elders and my pastor gathered around me, anointed me with oil, and prayed over me. The earth didn't shake. I didn't get hit with a lightning bolt. I didn't feel different at all.

I drove home that night and wondered what God had done. I didn't feel healed. I thought I could have orchestrated a more certain process. Still, I chose what God wanted and I surrendered again to His will.

The next morning, I awakened and turned on the light. It didn't hurt. I opened my Bible. I could see the pages. I reached for the laptop. The screen wasn't blurred. I could see. My vision was back to normal.

It was already improving from the treatment, but my vision took a big leap forward after the elders prayed for me. It hasn't regressed. I'm still tapering the steroid drops, because that's what must be done with steroid drops.

I know my vision and my discomfort are better. I don't know what my cornea looks like. As a physician, I have to say that healing, in this situation, doesn't simply mean better sight. It also means a normal cornea. Am I healed? I don't know yet. 

I do know my vision is better and the pain and blurriness are gone. That's enough for now.

Why did God intervene? 

It wasn't because I'm such a good person, or because of superior faith, or because I go to an amazing church. He intervened because I  believed what the Scripture says and obeyed. It's that simple. 

Does God heal everyone? 

I don't know if everyone gets healed on earth or not. Paul clearly was not healed of his thorn in the flesh, but God made a way through it. His suffering wasn't wasted. Everyone is healed in heaven.

If God heals me, can I stop my medicine? 

No. That decision needs to be made with the assistance of your physician. God uses doctors and medicine, as well as prayers of faith. 

Can I continue doing the same old things and get God to heal me? 

No. Healthy choices that allow you to care for the temple of God within you will still be necessary. We'll still need to eat right, exercise, drink water, and lower stress. We still need to take our medication. We can't ask God to heal us in order to indulge our lusts, our gluttony, or our cravings. That's not the kind of God we serve. He does not bless sin. Don't miss the verses about confession. It's a part of the healing process, too.

Are you sick? Do you need healing? 

Read James 5:13-19. Humble yourself, confess your sin, call your elders, and ask them to pray for your healing. Then, wait with expectation to see what God does. 

Does God still heal? Yes, He does.

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them prayer over him, anointing him iwth oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." James 5:13-14

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