When I was 8, my 12 year old sister, Stacia, died from cancer. Ever since then, I’ve had a hard time praying for healing for anyone. Actually, I’ve had a hard time praying for anything with “faith believing”, as it seems Jesus encourages us to.
Although I don’t pray with the confidence I’ve been taught by the Church is evidence of true faith, I don’t doubt God. I do doubt his ability to be convinced of my needs if I go toe-to-toe with him. I do doubt his ways are my ways – or his thoughts my thoughts. I do doubt that just because I’m sure he should do something, that he will, or should.
Through the death of my sister, I’ve learned about God’s goodness through loss. My faith is rooted in an understanding of God that has expectations on his character, not my human desires. Although I know God heals people of physical illness – my experience was different – and it shaped me. I learned that, although God had the power to heal, he was not obligated to.
It is because of this weird dichotomy of faith and perceived doubt that one day, a few years ago, I began to think I would be a good candidate for the supernatural gift of healing.
In my very logical mind I figured that if God was dishing out gifts, and the gift of healing was a legitimate one, surely someone who believed him but expected nothing of him would be an ideal candidate for miraculous healing gifts.
I knew that if God clearly spoke to me – no matter how ridiculous it was – I would joyfully act. I have done that sort of thing in word and action many times – the idea of being an agent of faith-induced healing seemed like a natural addition to how God could use me.
So I asked.
“God, can I have the gift of healing? Can you show me how to be used by you for miraculous healing? I think I’m a great candidate, Lord!”
Well, nothing ever happened. I never felt God tell me to put my hands on someone and pray for deliverance. I still get uncomfortable in groups when people are claiming healing for the sick. Although I had asked God to use me for the very reason that I was a doubter and would not seek to manipulate him, he never chose me.
Or so I thought.
A few weeks ago I was talking with some friends. We were talking about the gifts of the Spirit and how they are so often viewed through our cultural contexts and expectations. We talked about how other countries see miraculous healing so often, yet the North American church rarely displays the same work of the Spirit.
This got me to thinking – what if we are looking at this all wrong? What if the gift of healing isn’t only expressed through the laying on of hands and deliverance of disease or illness?
And then I had the thought.
What if the fruit I’m seeing in my neighborhood is actually an example of the Gift of Healing?
What if God actually DID give me the gift of healing when I asked – only in a totally different expression than I expected?
What if he has given me faith in his ability to heal – and my life in Uptown is evidence of my confidence in his healing power?
What if the Restoration that is happening between the outcast and the affluent, the rich and the poor, the schizophrenic and the missionary, the homosexual and the heterosexual – what if these are all examples of the gift of healing?
What if healing isn’t just freedom from cancer (just to die later of a relapse)? What if the gift of healing isn’t just being freed of addiction to alcohol (only to realize the consumer addiction that was there all along)? What if the gift of healing isn’t just for a momentary freedom from a physical, mental, emotional affliction?
What if the gift of healing is ALSO the slow restoration of community?
What if the gift of healing is seeing a man who used to only talk to his lotto cards develop real friendships in his community? What if the gift of healing is evidenced in the drunk man asking for forgiveness from his neighbors after they prayed over him following a threat to kill one of them in a fit of pain and anger? What if the gift of healing is evidenced in a small group being ministered to by those they were taught to serve? What if the gift of healing is evidenced in a community beginning to learn and use each other’s names? What if the gift of healing is evidenced in a former drug house being converted into a house of hospitality where everyone is welcome?
What if the gift of healing is evidenced in treating your neighbors differently because you’ve seen an example hundreds of miles away in Chicago that reminds you what it means to be human?
What if the gift of healing is something we all have when we live generous, hospitable and inclusive lives – Lives of Restoration?
Will you ask God for the gift of healing? Will you allow yourself to be used to restore God’s dream for the world?