We will end the week as we began it, with David's aching words: How long, O Lord? How long does it take for the Lord to answer His people with healing? How long does it take for that moment to come?
In at least one case, about twenty years.
But here's what we have to understand, and here's why it's so tricky: healing always comes to its fullness in a single moment, in a single breath, but that moment, that breath, is not always the fullness of its work.
When Jesus spoke a healing word over persons, it was pretty much immediate. The blind saw, the deaf heard, the lame walked, and this gives us the impression that this is how God works. And it is. We should never discount that God can and does heal in this way. We should recognize, however, that more often than God divinely heals, He wills healing, and willed healing does not often come so easily.
What happens, though, in healing, every time, is that there comes this moment of fullness, this finality when it is complete. When it's for real. And we say that this is the moment that God has healed us because it is the moment in which we finally feel healed, when our bodies are finally able to do those things that we have longed for them to do or when our souls no longer feel the hurt of betrayal or abuse or abandonment or when our hearts no longer grieve so acutely. This is the moment of healing.
It's the moment, but it may not be the fullness of the work. Because more often than not, it takes quite a bit to get us to that moment. It takes a grind to get us to that place. Truth be told, in the process, we usually don't recognize that we're working on healing. We usually don't know that it's happening at all. We pray, achingly, for our healing to come without seeing the new life that is forming slowly over old wounds. We just don't see until we see all at once, so we cry out How long, O Lord?
And in the blink of an eye, we say, Why did it take so long?
Why does healing take twenty years? Why does it take twenty months? Why does it take twenty minutes, especially when we know that God can do it in a heartbeat?
Because healing is a process, and what we often fail to recognize in the moment of its fullness is the work that has gone in to get us to this point. What we don't see along the way is the healing work that is happening before the moment of its fullness.
The truth is that those of us who have prayed for healing, especially those of us who have prayed for healing for so long, were healing. We were healing all along. We just didn't recognize it until it came into its fullness in our lives.
That seems troubling to a lot of folks. Healing shouldn't be work, especially when it comes from God. If God really was healing us, then He ought to do it the way Jesus did - in a single word. In one breath. In one moment.
But let me tell you this, and I only know what I know - it's not troubling; it's beautiful. The complete fullness of healing that comes from God in twenty years is every bit as amazing and breathtaking and wonderful and incredible as the fullness of healing that comes in a moment. It is. How long, O Lord?
However long it takes. And it will still take your breath away.