Yesterday was another day to visit the sick in the hospital. Philip joined me as we went to pray with two of our dear saints, both very ill lying in hospital beds just down the hall from one another. To visit the sick is a privilege which God calls us to as Christians. In Matthew 25:36, Jesus speaks to visiting the sick and elevates such acts in saying, “I was sick and you visited Me.” In other words, Jesus sees visiting the sick as so important, He says when we do this, we actually visit Him! Jesus makes Himself to be the one who is sick. Astounding.
And praying for the sick for healing is part of our Christian mandate. One-fifth of the Gospel story is devoted to the healing ministry of Jesus. In Matthew 9:35, we read, “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and affliction”. In Acts 10:38, Peter says, “[Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” Healing is a sign that the Kingdom of God has come to earth. As well, it demonstrates the compassion of the Lord for suffering people. Reaching out in compassion to heal the sick is a part of the Christian experience.
And so, this is what Philip and I did yesterday. We visited the sick and we prayed for healing. As we we prayed, I couldn’t help but question my own faith in those moments. After all, these dear ones are not young in age and perhaps more than most, I have seen the reality of sickness and death. I face it every day and I am not given to a denial of either sickness or death. In this world we all at some time will experience both. So as I prayed for healing, did I really believe that healing would take place?
The honest answer is no, I did not fully believe that healing would take place. But I believed that it COULD. And I believed that healing doesn’t fully rest on my faith. It rests on the grace and love of Jesus Christ. After all, He is Healer — I am not. And according to Matthew 9:35, Jesus had a perfect batting average at this healing thing! Perfect. This demonstrates His clear and unconditional commitment to healing. How that healing happens is up to Jesus. Some receive their healing on this earth and in common time. Others receive divine healing in kairos time (supreme time) as they step from this earth into heaven.
Is God limited to or by our faith? Clearly not. There are several instances in the Gospels where faith is not even mentioned at a healing of Jesus. The truth is that we all sometimes struggle with the faith to believe that Jesus will heal because we see so little healing accomplished. Yet we should always ask the deeper question, “Do I believe that Jesus CAN and WANTS to heal?” To that question, I knew my answer was a resounding “YES!” And so I prayed for the sick to be healed yesterday.
When we struggle with our belief as we pray for healing, we are good to follow the example of the father who desperately needed healing for his son. As he cried out to Jesus, he said, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). This was me at the hospital as Philip and I prayed for healing yesterday. I had struggling faith, not stubborn disbelief.
How about you?
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.