“Heal me ” O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved.”
After nearly 64 years of living my inventory of health-related problems is pretty low: chronic migraines plagued me for a while but improvements in medicine some years ago have eliminated them; minor surgery in my forties corrected a bum knee – a legacy of high school football; blood pressure and cholesterol are kept under control by medication. I could lose some weight and the aches and pains of getting older are constant companions but all in all I have no complaints. My prayers have been those of gratitude for health and that God would keep me from becoming seriously ill. The prayers of many others are quite different.
Pastoral ministry has exposed me to the debilitating presence of serious health issues in the lives of many. I have prayed with a mother of four in her thirties, stricken with cancer; the parents of a college freshman who came home on break only to fall into a coma with a fatally high fever; a young father with a list of health problems, any one of which would represent a siginifcant challenge; and on and on it goes.
To suffer with chronic illness or pain tries us to our limits. We may ask why. Perhaps we become bitter or resentful. We may even question God’s grace and mercy. When I read the Scriptures I see that God is on the side of life and health. Our Lord Jesus healed many during His earthly ministry. God’s purpose was in those healings. Sickness and death are intruders in this world. We should not hesitate in praying for health and healing, trusting God’s purpose for us.
At the same it is important to keep illness and healing in perspective. Even those who Jesus healed, including Lazarus who was raised from the grave, did not escape death. But sin and illness will not have the last word. God has promised that one day all this will be behind us. Until that Day death is the door through which we must enter the halls of eternity. No matter how many doctors or prayers we employ, this reality will not change. In this respect, pastoral experience has also permitted me to witness cheerfulness, patience, love and humor in many who struggle with debilitating illness. So remember, even as you pray for God’s healing presence and power, your witness to hope and grace in the midst of suffering can be one of the greatest gifts you give to those around you.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”