Yes. I do believe Jesus still heals people but as one who lives unhealed with chronic pain (at least at this writing), this question has haunted me. Holding on to a belief, while being the apparent evidence to the contrary, is a set up for deferred hope which can make the heart sick. If you want to know the why of me, you will need to know where my “Yes” regarding healing began.
My life in Christ began in 1976. I do not exaggerate when I say it was like being shot out of a cannon. Because of the immediate changes He made in my heart and the love which He inundated me with, I had every reason to believe this Jesus whom I had just encountered, was the same guy in the bible who healed people and did miracles. I concluded that the New Testament must be God’s yardstick. I believed life was to be measure by a New Testament standard – which included miracles. My first one involved God changing something about me that was closer to me than my skin.
While Bartemaeus’ paralysis involved sight, I on the other hand, had grown up as a social paralytic. We were both captives but my prison was shyness. My whole personna developed by compensating for this disability. However, when Jesus entered my life, I had a story to tell and I could not shut up. He had set me free and, with all my heart, I believed He intended to do that for all men! After all, I was not special; God so loved the world. As I heard myself giving account of his encounter with God, I wondered, who was this guy jabbering on and and on? The whole thing was like an out of body experience. This was an unprecedented miracle to me that met that ‘far more abundantly beyond’ – (Ephesians 3:20) New Testament standard.
However, as I looked down on motor-mouth Rob, a strange thing was happening – I noticed a cloud forming between him and other (more mature?) Christians. What’s up with this? Upon hearing my story, they would shut down or even walk away. Older believers tried to gently break the news to me that Jesus really isn’t doing that miracle thing anymore. Your kidding! This was quite disorienting to me as a young impressionable Christian. As a recent miracle, I was naturally dubious.
I didn’t know it, but I had been born again right on top of one of the largest fault-lines within Christianity. On one side there were Christians who believed miracles and the gifts were childish things to be done away with after the death of the apostles. The Bible – the perfect, had come and was now the only source of inspiration for them. In this camp, the Holy Spirit’s main job was to interpret scripture.
I sincerely didn’t want to be rude to the sola scripture segment of my new family but I knew God was still revealing Himself to men and speaking to them because He had just done so with me. As I told my story, I watched an unwelcome cloud form, which I learned, could become stormy and even threatening. As I gave an account of the new hope within me, the right hand of fellowship was withdrawn from this branch of the family tree. I loved these people. This made my heart sick.
On the other side of the fault line there were those who were excited, like myself, that Jesus was the same then, now and forever. They were zealous in their exploration of New Testament life. The Holy Spirit was right in the middle of it all. Admittedly, on this side of the divide, there were plenty of things to raise an eyebrow or even a scriptural-based question over but nevertheless, it was among this group that I took my first steps as a baby Christian. Since this tribe was pursuing a biblical New Testament reality (and happened to be the only ones who would accept me) I threw my lot in with them. Miracles here we come.
At least that is what I anticipated. However, after I watched hundreds of prayers for healing go unanswered, many of which were prayed in behalf of my body, my heart started feeling sick all over again. As my expectations were undershot by a few miles, I had to ask, “What is wrong with me that I do not experience divine health which, I had been taught, is my birthright?” It was as though I were lost all over again, except this time, within Christendom.
I became very discouraged trying to connect theologically to either side of the family. Each believed, with certainty, theirs was the way regarding the miraculous. Sadly, the more prideful, insecure and often prominent, would train their doctrinal guns at the more obvious heretics across the fault line. I have been caught in many a crossfire and to be honest, doctrinal arguments whizzing through my brain and over my head effect my heart in a sickening way.
As I have continued to trek along the fault lines, how often I have thought I would love to have a systematic, air-tight theology that removed the mystery and answered my myriad questions. But the Lord, I believe, has prevented this. It seems that mystery, at least for me, is the context where faith, hope and love must grow. The absence of certainty is the odd yet fertile place where faith grows best in my life.
“Here Along The Fault Line” (that was Dylan song wasn’t it?) I have made a choice that I am not going to be offended when I fail to get miracles on demand. Yet, I am going to presume Christ is still a healer and pray along that line. On grounds of my biblical understanding and personal experience, I am going to reject the notion that Jesus has changed His mission. Just because I haven’t experienced my miracle doesn’t prove they no longer exist.
Jesus is, in the essence of His being – a healer. This reality is not altered by my incomplete experience. I confess I want relief from my pain but I have also desired healing as a hedge to my faith bets. I believe, in certain instances, for our inheritance sake, God stands between us and objectives like this. Instead, I believe God wants faith to precede outcomes. He says faith itself is the assurance of these things we hope for.
Perhaps, like Bartemaeus, we too have issues with our vision. Perhaps, the cry from our hearts should be the same as his, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us !” If we feel some heartache regarding division within Christ’s Body, or we find a longing for miracles, perhaps in the midst of our deferred-heart pain, if we will bear it for a while, we will hear Jesus asking us …
What do you want me to do for you?
I believe we too, if we will persevere and not feint by giving into disappointment, will one day, perhaps very soon, hear Jesus say to us …
Go your way; your faith has made you well.
Father, open the eyes of our hearts. Grant us the spiritual courage to ask questions. Grant us the perseverence to lay hold of that for which we were laid hold of – things which eye has not seen nor ears have heard – these good works which you have prepared for us to walk in. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.