In an older post, I described a near-miss I had at a faith-healing service a few years ago. While many might assume an experience like that is just a fluke, being approached by those who fancy themselves to have healing hands is commonplace for me.
In fact, many such hands have been laid on me. Many earnest prayers and supplications have been offered on my behalf. Many concerned glances have been cast my way. I have been approached [and often ‘prayed over’] in churches, in college dorms, passing through downtown, in cafes and in parking lots; most often by complete strangers. To put it another way, many well-meaning, kind people have spent a lot of their time making things kind of awkward for me.
Late Wednesday night, a trio from a well-known religious organization here in town approached me, asking if they could pray for my healing. I conceded that, yes, they’d be welcome to pray for my much-needed spiritual healing. But I pretty much stopped there.
This sparked a 20 minute dialogue about healing, complete with an emphatic “I just don’t agree with that” from the young man who said he had the gift. I don’t think I have made another person that uncomfortable in a long time.
To sum it up, they were baffled. I don’t want to be healed? What gives? I am-after all-a Christian who believes God can do anything He chooses. I believe He can give us “life, and abundantly so” (John 10:10). So, why not ask Him if He can throw in a patched-up brain and a working set of legs?
I’ll tell you why not.
The problem I have with faith-healing is not the faith. I have been given that gift, by Grace and the example of others.
The problem I have with faith-healing is not the healing. I certainly believe healing and other ‘big’ miracles are possible. Scripture, and stories from the lives of the Saints, have many examples of people seeking-and receiving-relief from their intense sufferings through Jesus.
Of course, these people sought and called out to Jesus in despair, identifying and owning a need for healing. Jesus not only had the compassion and the ability to heal them, but the respect for their free will and their dignity to ask them “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)
I would appreciate being asked the same question when it comes to my own circumstances. [Before I emphatically answer “No, thank you.”]
The first [most selfish] reason I decline prayers for physical healing is that I like my life the way it is , and would not want my circumstances to be drastically altered [other than with a job and a place of my own; in that area I admit, I remain discontent]. Without having a disability, it is very unlikely that I would have the friends I have, the passions I have, the same quirky sense of social awareness, or my startling and dark sense of humor; all of which I am deeply grateful for.
I would not look how I look, say the things I say, or think how I think. I would draw different conclusions about challenges. I would learn different lessons. I would have completely different talents, weaknesses, and strengths. I would not be who I am. I am not being some kind of martyr. I just enjoy things the way they are.
And even if I was physically healed: who’s to say I would continue to rely on God and others in the way that my circumstances teach me? Remember the healing of the 10 lepers? Only one returned to thank Jesus for changing his life. Who’s to say that I would remember to lean on God, if I was delivered from my physical and emotional distresses? Not to mention to suffer is to truly live a Christian life. We all have crosses to bear. We all have thorns in our flesh. Some you can see, some you can’t.
Honestly, I find the whole insistence that I be physically healed bizarre. It seems to completely disregard both my spiritual needs and my strengths. Or worse, it equates how I am doing on the inside with how I am doing on the outside. This is completely illogical and dangerous for how we relate to one another. If everyone was treated this way, many of my friends with typical bodies and appearances would never be prayed for, and might never be healed or delivered from suffering. God forbid.
So, consider this my Public Service Announcement. There is a healing I need. [It’s the same kind we all need]. I need the kind that comes with forgiveness, with peace, and with Communion with God. I need the healing that can be experienced in the love of a friend, or the beauty of Creation. And, that we might all receive this healing, I humbly ask for and offer prayers.
The rest of it, I can do without.