As we talk about the devil's game, we're talking about hope. We're talking about faith. And we're talking about healing. And I believe that when we're talking about healing, we need to circle back and talk about faith. Because I don't think a lot of us understand the true relationship between the two.
I've been a healthcare chaplain, and I've been a hospice companion. I've spent many hours talking with the faithful about life, death, and healing. In a world of modern marvels, we have all kinds of technological advances at our fingertips that can bring about tremendous healing. Or, at the very least, they can improve quality of life.
What's interesting, then, is how seldom the faithful seem to want these things.
I can't tell you the number of times that I have been talking with someone who loves God and also has a hard road in front of them and they've laid out for me all of the options and opportunities that lie ahead for them. All of these amazing opportunities to step out of this brokenness, even just a little bit, and get some of their life back. Finally be able to do some of the things that they haven't been able to do for sometimes a very long time. My instinct is to say, "I'll be in prayer with you about those opportunities," and they just kind of look at me dumbfounded for a minute...and then declare something like.
"Oh, no, that's okay. God can heal me right now if He wants to." As in, if God would just decide to heal them, it would all be over, and if God does not decide to heal them, then they don't need or want any of these 'cheap' substitutions.
They are only really interested in the kind of full and complete healing that comes from God's will. No need to even pray, they seem to insist, over anything else.
"God will heal me or He won't."
In other words, they are putting all of their eggs into the healing basket. And they're calling this 'faith.'
Man, this one is so hard. On one hand, we all want that kind of faith, don't we? Whatever God wills, we want to be okay with. But on the other hand, we know from the witness of God's Word that it isn't really always that easy. On at least two occasions, those who came for healing were told to go and wash in the river. God healed them, but they had to do something, too. And the lame man still had to carry his mat home; he didn't get to just leave it there.
The healing of God sometimes comes with a burden. It sometimes comes with an expectation that we participate in it, and that means it doesn't always happen the way that we want it to happen. That means that sometimes - often - it takes more than a faith that just believes; it takes a faith that is willing to act. The bleeding woman pushed through the crowds to touch Jesus when she could have just cried out from the side of the road like the blind men. The lame man's friends lowered him in front of Jesus when they could have just sent for Him like the soldier did. The healing of God takes all kinds of different forms, and we have to have a faith that accommodates that reality.
The truth is that the very thing you don't think is worth praying for because it's not the snap-of-the-fingers, instantaneous healing you think you're supposed to want may be the very thing God would use to heal you if it would just happen. Sure, God could cure your liver failure. Just...poof! But He could also want you to have a liver transplant in order not just to heal you, but for something so much more - for even more glory. If you refuse to pray for a liver transplant because what you want is healing, you may miss out on both.
Again, God could lift the burden of depression off your shoulders, just like that. He absolutely could. But He could also have in mind something greater, something more glorious, that would happen when you met a certain counselor or joined a certain support group. If you're sitting in your darkness with clenched fists, holding tight to the notion that you 'only need God,' then you might miss out not only on your healing, but on this great, glorious thing God was going to do with it. (Which, by the way, might not be just about you, but might also be about the way your story and your testimony and your faith would intermingle with someone else's lostness at just the right time.)
We have to get out of this false faith and dangerous headspace that turns its back on good things because it's put all of its eggs in the healing basket - "God will either heal me or He won't." That's not faith; that's resignation. And faith has never been one to resign.
Rather, we need to develop a robust faith that embraces all of the possibilities of God's goodness, all of the hope of His story, all of the humility that realizes that He may be doing something greater and more glorious than just making us well.
He might, after all, be making us holy. And we might miss out on it because we're too busy sitting in the darkness with clenched fists, claiming a false, weak faith that limits not only our options, but also our God.