I’ve been focusing a lot lately on the healing power of God. Like an old dog learning a new trick… I have faced some challenges here. I’ve been a believer for a long time. Some of you might think that I should have gotten this down by now. It’s okay. I agree.
But before we kick this old dog too hard, let’s think on this for a minute. I’m not the first to have these doubts about the abilities of our Lord. I’m really no different from the disciples who trailed closely behind Jesus. Those twelve guys saw with their own eyes what Jesus could do. They had witnessed the healings again and again. They saw how effortless it was for Jesus to restore sight to the blind or cause the lame to walk again. So they knew, and still they doubted.
After one really long day of serving alongside Jesus as he spoke to the masses, when he sent them on ahead in the boat while he went off alone to pray, it was then that their assurance in Christ’s abilities faltered. A storm came up while they were making their way across the water. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence, and the fishermen on that boat were not new to the situation. It was in the midst of the storm that Jesus decided to rejoin them.
No boat? No problem! Jesus chose to walk to them… on the water.
The disciples, paying attention to the wind and waves around them, saw this happening, but they didn’t immediately know that it was Jesus. It made more sense that what they were seeing was a ghost. Honestly? I don’t know, maybe they were used to seeing ghosts on the water. They were certainly used to seeing Jesus do the impossible. I can imagine that when they didn’t recognize him, Jesus thought, “Really guys? Don’t you know me? You of all people should know it’s me here. You have been eyewitnesses to what I am able to do.”
The very same could be said of me. I am like that father of the boy brought to Jesus (Mark, chapter nine) who had been possessed by a spirit since childhood.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
(In my imagination, I see Jesus lean in slightly with a small grin, and using air quotes when he said, “If you can?”)
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
As I said, that is completely me. Jesus, I do believe… help me to believe! Obviously that father trusted Jesus could heal his son, or he would not have brought the boy to him. Even though the disciples had failed in their attempt, this dad still knew Jesus could do it… and yet he still had lingering doubt.
I have stood where that boy’s father stood. Recently, one of my kids faced a challenging diagnosis. It was not one that I wanted for them. Tests had been inconclusive, but the doctor was sure, in the end, my son would face tough challenges. Honestly, sometimes being a nurse is a handicap. I knew what my child would face if the diagnosis proved true. I also knew that there is no cure and medical management is poor at best.
The only place I knew to turn was to Jesus. Like the disciples, I know Jesus. I have seen Jesus heal my husband in an ICU room. BAM. Done. I saw it. Not everyone gets to see that, but I did, and still I had doubt. I know. It’s crazy.
My problem was that I didn’t want to ask for this healing without completely believing that I could have it. See this: I was tying the outcome to my ability. How senseless is that? I hesitated asking for it because I wanted to fully believe. And then a gentle friend said, “I don’t think it works that way.”
It doesn’t work that way. So with tears in my eyes, the day before the final test, I asked my Father for the desire of my heart. I asked for the final, determining test to be normal. Completely normal. I asked that my son be spared this challenge.
The test was on a Friday, and on Sunday the email message from the doctor came. “Your MRI is completely normal. Congrats.”
To say that I was overcome would be an understatement. Tears of joy flowed all night. The struggle I had was real, but no more real than the ability of my Father to work his will in my son’s life.
I wish I had the answers for why sometimes God chooses to heal, and why he doesn’t at other times. I have certainly been on the flip side of that coin. But I know what I have seen, and this old dog is learning something new. I’m learning to rethink what I have always thought about who God is and of what He is capable, and the more I learn, the less He fits into my brain.
And I think that’s okay.