Monday, August 11, 2008

Thoughts on Healing

Jesus once asked a blind guy what he wanted to be done for him (Mark 10:51). Since the feller had been calling out 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me' for the previous few moments, so much so that Jesus' disciples had told him to shut it, and he was blind, wouldn't it have seemed obvious to you and me what he wanted.

Ah, there you have it. The obvious. Not always so, er, obvious. A great frustration of preaching is the hours of study you have to do to get to the point of telling people things that they then see as obvious. Things that weren't obvious to them until you told them. A joy and a privilege actually, as well as a frustration.

So back to the guy with the eye problem. 'I want to see,' he says.

Some years ago I had a back problem. The end of an undistinguished football career, the lack of personal fitness, a niggly injury that never cleared up and an undiagnosed double annular tear left me with chronic back pain for nearly five years. I couldn't stand for more than 20 minutes at a time. I was unhappy but willing to accept a disabled sticker if that was what was needed. Whilst I was prayed for I was healed by process not instant. Three weeks non-intrusive, rehabilitation treatment fixed my head. Then the body followed.

I believe a willingness to accept my lot, if that was what was required of me, was the turning point. The voice said, 'What do you want me to do for you?' I wanted to be well. I didn't want to be known as the guy with the back problem. I put my energy into getting well, even though it hurt like blazes to do so, because I was assured by experts that the pain was not causing me any further injury (that's the difference between chronic and acute pain in simple terms). Folks who have known me throughout the experience will tell you I am now fitter and healthier than I have ever been, but I will never take that for granted, ever again.

What's my new insight? It's this. I believe there are people around, some in local churches here, who would not know what to do with a healing. All their identity comes from the attention they are able to get by listing a series of illnesses, ailments and problems. What is the honest answer to, 'What do you want me to do for you?' Is it, 'I want to be well.' Or maybe, 'I want people to like me even when I have nothing that deserves their sympathy.' Or something else?

What do you want me to do for you? It's a great question and not at all obvious. I will be asking it more in future, although, of course, it will not be me who will be doing what you want. I will be asking someone else to.

The blind guy, so Mark tells us, got his sight back, without even being touched. It was what he wanted.


Mr Gnome said...

Quite a challenging piece, St.

Based on a challenging moment in Our Lord's life.

You write, of some people: 'All their identity comes from the attention they are able to get by listing a series of illnesses, ailments and problems.'

I feel this is a valid point, but I wonder about the word 'all'.

It's quite difficult to work out what makes up the totality one's own sense of identity, let alone decide what that might be for another person.

I wonder if it might be fairer change 'all etc' to 'Too much of their identity'....

Just a thought.

Kathryn said...

Thanks for this, Steve. Thoughts are being provoked in all sorts of directions, and I can all too clearly recognise a few of those unhappy people you mention. The challenge, then, is to help them to see that they are valued themselves, irrespective of their illness/horrible experience. Hanging on to pain is disturbingly easy, it seems.

St said...

Mr Gnome - you're almost certainly right. I could pretend I was using hyperbole but actually I just needed a good editing. If I could afford you my blog would be stunning

Mr Gnome said...

Mr Gnome is blushing!

How kind.

And - who knows? - Mr G could soon be far more available and affordable than you might imagine!

St said...

Oh dear. Is Couldn't Pastor A Sheep reorganising you again?

Mark B said...

Hmmm... if all your tackles where like the ones you did on me that weekend at Cliff College a few years back... I'm not surprised you got injured! ;-)

Seriously... good thoughts, especially when the Charismatic church is once again obsessed by another "healing revival"/"outpouring"