Like many theological issues it doesn’t really become that important until you have to face it personally.Talking to a dear friend only a few months ago, with their faith weak and exasperated by how long they’d prayed for healing with nothing happening, my attempts to theologically explain their situation felt useless with my lack of personal understanding and experience.
Now in the midst of what could only be resolved by a miracle, I’ve had to wrestle with what I believe about healing.Do I believe in it? What does healing mean? Does it still happen today? How do I pray for healing? Should I pray for healing?
But it’s funny how with even a little bit of hindsight you realise God, in His wisdom, has been preparing you for this for a very long time.
Let me start by saying I do not believe God has caused this situation. I still believe Aurelia to be wonderfully and fearfully created but somehow sin and death has crept in. I believe in an all-loving and all-good God who not only didn’t ‘do this’ to us but weeps with us at it happening.
However He knew it was coming and has prepared us for it – starting back when I was just 12. I was incredibly close to my grandfather- I loved him so dearly. At a relatively young age of 73 he was diagnosed with oesophagal cancer and was admitted to hospital to have his stomach and a good chunk of his oesophagus removed. The operation appeared to go well, but a few days after the operation he developed septicemia and slipped into a coma.
Being young I was left with my godparents whilst my parents rushed to his bedside. Laid in bed I remember praying like I hadn’t done before and simply asked God ‘cure him if he won’t suffer, but if he will, please let him be with You’. Little did I know, but this was about the time he slipped away, but back in my room I felt a peace like never before. It was as if the room was golden in colour somehow. I slept soundly that night and whilst desperately upset at the loss of my grandfather, I knew the best had happened for him and I suppose since I’ve taken the view that death is a type of healing in itself.
Healing also seems to have come up in a theme recently in teaching I’ve heard and, indeed had to do. I’ve listened to a number of sermons on healing, which have included personal testimonies of some miraculous cases of healing. We also had healing as a topic with the youth group we help with, which meant I had to consider carefully what I believed about healing (from which, by the way, I concluded I do believe healing does happen today).
Furthermore, in my career I have worked increasingly with the disability community from which I’ve gained a much more profound understanding of how the Church can cause so much damage to people through a narrow view of healing. At a conference recently, I heard one gentleman with a significant visual impairment talk of how people had often accused him for his lack of faith, for if he’d had greater faith he’d be healed by which they meant he’d gain his sight back. What struck me more however was his belief that God had already healed him by giving him his guide dog which had allowed him to effectively get his life back.
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think healing always means ‘a cure’.
I know this is of little comfort to those who are consistently in pain and see no end to their suffering, in other words there’s been no healing whatsoever. I don’t understand why God chooses to intervene in some situations and doesn’t in others. I have some theological ideas but I know they’re not always satisfactory to me, or others.
Believe you me I’ve had some angry points this last few weeks as to why God couldn’t intervene for our little girl, so loved and wanted. One day this resulted in me shouting quite loudly ‘You lost your Son, but it was only for three days. I’ve lost my daughter for the whole of my life!’
Call it blind faith, or delusion if you like, but despite the little understanding I have of why Aurelia, I some how have a strong faith, that God has her in His hands and He is looking after her. I suppose with my previous experience I’d go so far as to say I believe God will heal her when she passes away, for whilst we’d love her to be with us here, living life to the full, how much more she will have fullness of life in the next life. She’ll never have experienced pain or suffering, only love in this life and the next.
It doesn’t mean I don’t think God cannot ‘heal’ her in the sense of allowing her to live in this life, and indeed both Gerard and I have confessed to one another we fantasize about future scans or her labour where the doctors rub their eyes in disbelief that she’s suddenly grown and will live. However I somehow feel God has spoken over this diagnosis and He’s given us peace in that knowledge.
If you’re someone who is still praying for healing in the sense of a cure, please continue to do so. If you can stand in a gap we don’t feel able to, that’s wonderful. But please also do pray for simply the gift of time we so desperately want with Aurelia after she’s born- even if it’s only minutes, and above all, pray for peace and no suffering for her.
Photo credit: Josh (broma) via Visualhunt / CC BY