Today, in the West, the most likely causes of death are cancer and heart disease. Our self made-selves get to die of self-made diseases. Either that or we forget who we are and die forgotten in a home.
In this world of relentless, chronic illness and debilitating conditions from which there seems no escape, what does it mean to believe in a God who heals? What meaning has healing in a world which is slowly beginning to wake up to reality: That no matter how much you hide it or pretend otherwise, our fragile and failing flesh was never and will never be ‘perfect’.
Of course I write presumptuously. Many people maintain a carefully selected delusion. Hiding the disabled and the ageing, they can believe that these conditions are temporary ailments at best, which can be rectified by medicine, magic or healing prayer.
Take your pick, it’s the same kind of person who buys the lie anyway.
What possible meaning could healing have when the grave looms closer and closer? So you dodge it for a few more miserable, lonely years. What a blessing!
I think when Jesus touched and healed blind people, lepers and cripples he didn’t have in mind that he was in some way making them perfect. Their illness was no blemish.
The blemish, the ugly disfiguring scar across all creation was that the blind man had to beg on the street, or that the leper had to ring a bell to warn people he was coming near. It is the greatest of all sicknesses that a woman should have lost all her money desperately paying for doctors who could not help her. Her sickness cost her daily bread.
Christ healed the woman on that day. Many people have been blessed to witness similar sights in their own day too. Many have not and many beg God for a miracle. Is he capricious in his miracle dispensing? Are miracles earned by expressing the most faith?
When Christ healed it meant that the Kingdom of God had come upon a person or people (Luke 11:20). The kingdom of God, good news for the poor, restoration of all things and renewal of our weary souls. These kingdom things are witnessed to by the miracle. Yet these things of themselves are not in the miracle.
The healing of the bleeding woman is a miracle which points to the kingdom. It is not the Kingdom. In the Kingdom, she would never have had to spend all her money on doctors. In the Kingdom, blind men will not beg and cripples will be first in line at the healing waters. The miracles of healing are a sign but they are not the Kingdom.
Being Kingdom people, followers of Jesus, doesn’t always mean that we get to watch a deaf person hear or a sick person walk free of cancer. It most certainly does mean that we yearn, pray for and work for a world where our disabled, sick and dying are shown endless love.
This is the greatest thing. Love endures though death creeps through the door and steals the breath. Love is what lies beyond healing. Indeed love is the healing. If God were to restore all human bodies to the attractive, young and fit forms of their mid twenties in some platonic ideal of perfection, how could our love be anything like God’s? For then we would only love because it is convenient.
Love is costly and grace is costly. A cheap miracle cure changes no ones heart, and it is hearts that God seems very interested in.