Living the Kingdom life is always meaningful but there are some moments which are especially significant. Last night was one of those for me. At the Teen Challenge facility in Riverside, California, I stepped back up to bat. By that I mean that I taught on supernatural physical healing for the first time since my cancer diagnosis in December of 2011. I stepped back up to bat.
I used to teach a lot on supernatural healing. It was something I loved and was asked to do often. Each time I would teach we would “try it on” by asking the Holy Spirit to come upon us as he did Peter and John in Acts 3 when the Lord used them to heal the lame man who sat day by day outside the temple at the Gate called Beautiful. In great faithfulness, the sweet Holy Spirit would come each time we invited Him. Pain was alleviated, people’s bodies were strengthened, and yes, sometimes we would see amazing demonstrations of healings, praise the Lord!
Sadly however, when I was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer, though we prayed with all our hearts, I was not supernaturally healed. My healing came after more than a year of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I am alive today and I am ever grateful that God used the hands of my dear doctors and the enduring prayers of His people to make sure that His healing plan for my life was realized!
But one of the unfortunate after-effects of my cancer storm has been a timidity to re-engage with my former healing ministry. Because of my own suffering, I’ve had to face the rather brutal reality that although Jesus healed all who came to Him (Matt. 12:15), sometimes we simply do not receive our own healing or the healing of a loved one for whom we pray with all our heart.
And so these last two and a half years have been spent learning to love Jesus more deeply because of His kind presence to me in the face of my suffering, even though we prayed so hard for a supernatural healing. I’ve searched to develop a more balanced and Biblical theology regarding not only the reality of human suffering but also the way God uses sickness and suffering for a deeper purpose in our lives. Now as I reach out to others with cancer, my story, tested by the fire of my own suffering, is being used by God to bring hope and strength to the weary, the sick and even the dying. That has made my journey through the cancer storm not just bearable, but truly beautiful. Ecclesiastes 3:11 is true: “God has made everything beautiful for its own time.”
I’ve actually grown quite content not teaching on supernatural healing. Teaching more on God’s kind presence in the midst of our suffering has been enough for me. But then Andrew Ferguson, Dean of Students of the Teen Challenge facility at Benedict Castle in Riverside scheduled me to teach last night on Acts chapter 3 — yes, the very passage which details the first supernatural healing done through the Early Church, specifically Peter and John. This powerful passage is uncontestable in its account of the Spirit’s power to heal a man who at 40 years old, had never walked or even stood because of a congenital birth defect. The passage assigned to me left me no wiggle room — the same Spirit who raised up Jesus from the dead was the same Spirit who raised up this lame man and healed him instantly and completely. And my message last night to the men at Teen Challenge had to be this: the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and who healed the lame man at Gate Beautiful lived in them! Who knows what miracles God desires to do through them? The Spirit of the Lord was IN them for their sake, but He was UPON them for the sake of others!
And so I stepped back up to bat.
I re-engaged with a ministry which includes teaching what the Bible says about healing. Now I’ll be the first to admit that last night may not have been my “best” teaching. And when we prayed for those who needed healing last night, we saw alleviation of pain by those who suffered — but at this point, I do not know of any complete supernatural healings. Finally, let’s be clear — the teacher who was delivering the message of supernatural healing through the power of the Holy Spirit was the very same woman who was not supernaturally healed of her own cancer. BUT — and this is a big BUT — the Bible was clearly taught and followed last night. And I believe with all my heart that God was pleased.
As I stepped up to bat last night, I said “yes” to God — “yes” to teaching the full Gospel again. “Yes” to remembering that although we don’t always see the healings for which we pray so fervently, we would never want to miss praying for them, because our God IS STILL a God of healing. I don’t want to stop one prayer short of a miracle. So I’ll continue to pray for healing and teach others about healing.
It’s good to be back up to bat!
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.