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Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Miracles, healings and prophecies can all turn out to be worthless (Matt. 7:22; 1 Cor. 13:1-3) but there is one thing that cannot be faked – rejoicing in Christ in the midst of suffering. This is the peace beyond all human understanding. A miracle that can only be produced by the Spirit of God. When Paul prayed for his suffering to be removed God did a greater miracle – sufficient grace – boasting in weakness (2 Cor. 12). When the apostles were given 39 lashes (Acts 5:40) and they went off ‘rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name’ (Acts 5:41) was that not a greater miracle than the healing of the lame man in Acts 3? Joni Eareckson Tada – confined to a wheelchair after a diving accident as a young woman – said, “God didn’t heal me physically – he did a greater miracle – he kept me in a wheelchair and put a smile on my face.” When I hear someone testifying to how Christ has brought them to a place of complete assurance and contentment in Him, how he is their joy in the midst of continuing pain or singleness or childlessness – then I praise God for a far greater miracle than a testimony of healing or marriage or conception.

(You can hear Joni speaking on suffering here.)

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It is not uncommon for us to hear something like this: “I take power and authority over the spirit of infirmity and decree that Jesus sets you free and the healing is permanent.”  This raises a few questions. 

First, who is in charge?  It looks worryingly like I am ‘the commander while God is the slave’ (Adeleye, Preachers of a Different Gospel). 

Second, are we making the mistake of jumping into Jesus’ shoes?  Looking at Luke in our staff devotions the other day we were struck again by Jesus’ power to rebuke a fever (Luke 4:39).  The amazing thing here is Jesus talks to blood vessels, to cells, to a virus… and they obey him!  The same thing happens when Jesus rebukes the wind and waves (Luke 8:24).  Surely we’re not meant to think, ‘I can do that.’  Surely we’re meant to gasp, ‘Who is this man?’  The attention is all on Jesus, the Creator talking to his creation.  When faced with illness we are not to jump into Jesus’ shoes but into those of the disciples who simply and humbly ask Jesus to help (Luke 4:38).  In contrast to animism which sees each illness as the work of a spirit of infirmity which must be overcome by invoking a greater spirit, this is about a Creator completely sovereign over his creation and incredibly merciful and good to his creatures. 

The third question is deeper still: Am I willing to see the illness as an opportunity for Jesus to be glorified whether he heals me now or later or at his coming?  I know many of us have found John Piper’s ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer’ absolutely revolutionary (you can replace ‘cancer’ with any form of suffering).  If you haven’t read it you must – it’s here.  I just came across another example of this in practice in the lives of David and Becky Black who are working with the church in Ethiopia.  You can read their story here and here.  They are praying not only for a miracle of healing for Becky’s cancer but also for the even greater miracle of obedience, trust and joy in Christ even in the darkness of the valley.

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