What Makes a Person Truly Healed?
Those familiar with New Testament Greek know the words we translate in English as “saved” or “healed” are based on the same root ‘sozo’. Yet, we know that being healed and being saved are not the same thing. Though it has stunned me, I have seen people healed of terminal cancer, terminal heart problems, and survivors of impossible car accidents, who walked away from the faith. If you met them today, you would never know they had believed. Physical healing does not guarantee salvation. People can be healed but not “made whole”. There are people who do not cling to Jesus and so their healing will ultimately fail. The same cannot be said of those who are cling to Him no matter what comes. Everyone who has placed their hope in the Lord can say with certainty, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God”. (Job 19:26) On my tombstone I want these words inscribed, “From this place, I shall rise” because I am certain that in a very short time I will enjoy all the benefits of total healing as I walk the New Earth and speak with my God. Complete physical healing was paid for in the atonement and is the absolute, unshakable destiny of all who believe.
Affirming that truth does not diminish the importance of praying for the sick.
If Jesus Healed Everyone, Why Can’t We?
Jesus did not, in fact, heal everyone but it is a fact that everyone for whom He prayed for physical healing, was healed. As my husband has wisely observed, “Unlike us, Jesus always knew the Father’s exact purpose and perfect will and acted accordingly.” Jesus’ miracles demonstrated His Divine nature. Jesus rarely healed the same way twice. He spoke. He spat. He made mud. He healed in crowds. He healed people alone. He laid hands on them or He didn’t show up at all and just gave an order. If we learn anything from the healings of Jesus in regards to our own ministry it is that healing is not related to methodology. If Jesus did nothing of Himself but did only that which He saw His Father doing, we should approach healing prayer with a sense of holy dependency.
If Jesus did not heal everyone, it should not surprise us that we do not either. God has gifted individuals within His body with a special gift to heal (I Cor. 12:9) and told us when we are sick to call the elders for prayer (James 5:14). When burdened for someone we love we have every right to “pray about everything” (Phil 4:6) and in praying for their healing we do so secure in the knowledge that the answer does not depend on us, but on One Worthy to Open the Scrolls. I have a perfect God with perfect vision, perfect timing and a perfect nature. The answer as I perceive it might not be the final answer at all. The purpose of healing is never physical healing in and of itself. God’s great desire is that “all men might be saved”. (I Tim 2:4) God wants everlasting ‘sozo’ for everyone He created.
Healing and Wholeness
So where does that leave us? I come back to my favorite “wholeness” story in scripture: Jacob.
In praying about my paralysis the Lord gave me an answer many years ago using the story of Jacob. Jacob was a robust man the night he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord. He was so strong, he wrestled till dawn. Then the Angel of the Lord touched his hip and put it out of joint. For those who have never had a hip go out, I am told it is agonizing. In spite of his pain Jacob, hung on and refused to let go until he received a blessing. In his “disabled” state he got what he asked for: his name was changed to Israel and he realized that he had seen the Lord Himself. Jacob had a big night. It just cost him his hip and he limped for the rest of his life. ( Gen 32:31-32)
Which version of Jacob was “most whole”? Was the non-limping, pre-theophany Jacob “whole” because he didn’t limp or was the observably disabled man who was given the name Israel a man more whole than he’d been when his hip was in place? Jacob met God face to face and left with a mark of physical dependency. His “observable brokenness” was the visible reminder of the most amazing night of his life. God valued Jacob’s long run wholeness over his ability to walk without pain. He was “healed” with a limp.
Exodus 4:11 and Healing Ministry
Most people have not heard sermons on Exodus 4:11. “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Ex. 4:11)
As surely as people are born with brown eyes, or long legs, the Lord creates some born blind or deaf or mute for His own purpose. They are not “sick”. They were created as they are. Even those of us that have become disabled may pray for deliverance and receive the answer, “My grace is sufficient for you”. Paul prayed three times, got an answer and moved on. Not everyone is intended to be “delivered or physically healed” of what we might think is a “disability”.
How does that impact healing ministry? As stressful as it might be, we need to be discerning.
Ask anyone who has an observable disability and they will tell you how difficult it is to respond to an altar call. It doesn’t matter what the message is on, if you move forward, people tend to swarm you and pray for physical healing. That can be very distracting from the work the Spirit of God would do in your heart. I know I am not alone in staying in my seat so I can actually concentrate in prayer. Something is not quite right when disabled people have to expend a lot of energy keeping other people comfortable with their disability.
Last night a young man shared how he has been called out from the platform, an unpleasant experience I have also had. One night I was responding to an altar call to intercede for the lost, when the speaker interrupted my prayer and challenged me to “throw away that cane”. Not wanting to make a scene I motioned to speak to him privately and told him the Lord had answered me on that and I tried to return to prayer. Unfortunately, he persisted so publicly that I had to leave the service because the focus on lost souls was being totally overshadowed. At first I just sat in my car and cried in frustration but a moment later, I caught myself laughing a bit realizing that a man wearing contact lenses was challenging my faith. Apparently it had not crossed his mind that if he applied his theology to himself, then he should have pulled his contacts out of eyes and tossed them to the floor, claiming 20/20 vision was “his birthright”.
“We walk by faith and not by sight” even in healing ministry. “Sozo” is God’s heart for His people, and His desire is that they might be forever saved and healed. If we pray for the things He loves, we cannot go wrong.