Recently I had a jarring experience that left me utterly dumfounded. It did more than that for it left me somewhat perplexed at the ambivalent attitude we have towards some aspects of God's dealing with us, especially here as it relates to healing.
Let me explain.
I was sitting in my lounge in a comfortable, well padded, and to be honest my favourite settee reading a book. I was enormously at peace for I love reading and the atmosphere was most congenial. Next door on my left my neighbour's children were joyfully frolicking and just outside my windows the humming birds and sparrows were delightfully flitting through the pomegranate trees. Ahead of me the big French doors, fully glassed, were letting in abundant soft sunshine and the adjacent louvers were directing cool breezes all over the lounge.
Suddenly I felt thirsty and decided I wanted a drink. I stood up to go to the refrigerator and wallop! A pain hit me with a mighty force at the back and I almost collapsed to my knees. It was my bad back, lower spine, and it chose that very moment to lash me. Like most back-sufferers my bad back behaves itself most times but occasionally it plays up.
I remember well when my back got injured and in truth it did not seem at the time to be a great problem. I was in a gymnasium in London weight training and I stumbled doing a heavy squat and felt a jarring in my spine. I visited the doctor and he said that the ligament between the disc got fractured (or something like that) and it would be painful occasionally and I should take some painkillers when it hurts. That injury happened in 1965.
Sometimes I would go for many months pain-free and then wallop!
After the injury in 1965 I asked God on several occasions to heal my back and after a couple of years I gave up asking for it was clear that healing was not going to take place. Up to this day God has not intervened and my back still give me licks occasionally.
Is it that I have no faith or my faith is too weak?
Absolutely not. My faith in God is strong and it has moved mountains. I entered Christian Ministry, preached, help found churches and evangelized widely across England. I laid my hand on the sick and prayed for them and saw then recovered, I helped many souls to Jesus and many people have testified how they have been helped through my ministry and all because my faith in God is rock solid. Even now as a writer people are contacting me and thanking me for helping them through my writing and because my faith is strong and my reliance on God absolute I know others will be helped as I continue in this ministry.
So it is not a question of faith for my lack of healing; so what is it?
At this juncture the atheist reading this must be cock-a-hoop for atheists have always asserted that there is no God and therefore he cannot heal. But hang on a moment sir, there is more to tell.
I remembered what happened to Paul when he approached God three times asking for healing for his ailment (almost certainly an eye-problem) and God did not heal him and told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9) Do I take it then that we must put up with all our aches and pains and trust that God's grace is sufficient for us?
God's grace is sufficient for us in ALL SITUATIONS whether we are pain-free or not. The reason why healing escapes us sometimes is that we are ambivalent about miraculous healing and this ambivalence means that we are asking for the healing but not expecting it will happen although we have faith that it COULD happen.
We are generally double-minded about miraculous healing because we have the undesirable tendency to see pain, suffering and sickness in totally negative and pejorative terms but is that the only way to see them? Absolutely not.
Take my bad back which plays up every now and again.
Before we married I told my wife that I have a bad back so she knows I am cautious about lifting things especially if I have to bend down for them.
A time back my wife came home and had something to be lifted out of the car and I was sitting in front of the television watching Sports. I absolutely did not want to be interrupted. She came into the house, put down her handbag and looked at me and thinking that my back was playing up she returned to the car and brought the stuff in. Sweet!
I came home one day and parked my car in the garage. Just as I was about to close the garage doors I saw my neighbour struggling with a large box and I was tempted to go and give him a helping hand. Then I thought about my bad back and wondered if I would be a help or hindrance. I did not help him and the strong fellow managed okay. I had no remorse of conscience. Sweet!
An old man wanted to nip across the road to buy something from a shop on the opposite side. He hesitated because he saw a lorry coming down on his side. He determined that as soon as the lorry passed he would dash across and as soon as the lorry passed he did. But his painful left knee slowed him down and he was not as quick as he wanted to. The lorry had attached to it a long trailer that he was not aware of but because he was slowed by his bad knee he missed the trailer by a whisker. Sweet!
The Cuban aircraft was dead on time as it took to the skies. The Cubana Flight 455 was going from Barbados to Jamaica and was brought down by a terrorist attack on October 6, 1976. All 78 people on board the aircraft were killed. One man missed the flight because he was sick and so avoided certain death. Sweet!
A sister in the church was complaining that her toe was very painful for weeks and when she could stand it no longer she went to the hospital for treatment. The doctor at the hospital examined her toe, saw that she had a piece of metal stuck in it that caused the toe to have gangrene. He told her she was lucky that the gangrene did not spread too far and the surgeon cut off the toe. Her life was spared. Sweet!
There are volumes of cases where pain and sickness worked out to be for the good and we need to learn to trust that our God is always doing that which is best for us even when we would moan and groan.
So where does that leave me with my bad back?
Every time my bad back lashes me with searing pain I silently ball out, "Lord what is happening here? Please give the devil a couple big kicks and ask him to take his filthy hand off my back."
I don't care what my head tells me or my learning has indoctrinated me to understand. Pain is pain is pain and I don't want any of it.
So please God the next time Satan ask your permission to torture me so he can see if my faith is solid then please do me this favour. Tell Satan that the next time he makes such an outrageous request that you will slam your almighty boot into his evil, hideous posterior and leave your boot-mark so prominent on it even a blind man can see it.
In the meantime God please give me grace to endure all the assaults of the enemy and the knowledge to know that every attack of the enemy accrues to my unfailing advantage both here and in eternity for your word assures us, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
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Mr. Ward, this is a truthful article that glorifies Jesus. Pain is not something pleasant, but it can be the sweetest means leading us into the depths of the suffering of Jesus. I myself have not always responded well during sickness and pain, at times heaviness and hopelessness have weighed on my spirit-and I agreed with it. But it can be such a kindness when we understand His purpose. As you shared about your back pain, I imagined Jesus being whipped with thirty nine lashes; I saw Him carrying that cross as it rubbed raw his fresh wounds. You have an opportunity to identify with Jesus in His suffering in a unique way and comprehend the cross He chose to bear-it's a gift He gives. Thank you for sharing your words, your heart, and the fruit of your intimacy with Jesus. I am certain that it is impacting the lives of many unto the glory of the King. And pain-it really, really sucks :)