Healing. That’s what the flag said. It’s always there on a Saturday in town, and I always ignore it. But having thought about healing earlier this week, I didn’t just pass it by this weekend. I grabbed a leaflet. I was angry – I wanted to see what those under its banner claimed. The promise on the leaflet is that God loves me and can heal me, and that members of local evangelical churches will lay on hands and pray on request, on the street with me, free of charge.
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5 7-16 (NIV)
I find the laying on of hands a really moving experience, which only happens once a year at the church I go to. I wish it happened more, and for healing. But even, if it did, I do not believe it would instantly bring healing. Nor has my experience ever been that way. True, that the Bible says ‘Ask, and you will receive’ – true that it counsels the sick to have hands laid upon them (we had the passage above come up in home group last week) but healing is the will of God – in God’s time – asking isn’t followed by instant gratification. James’ letter counsels patience in suffering.
But then again, it isn’t the promise of the churches that were praying in town, either. The small print on the leaflet states quite clearly that if you are ill, you should seek medical advice and follow it. And keep following it. It’s large print claim is that God can heal. Not that He will. Over the past few weeks, I feel like I have slid backwards, away from healing rather than towards it. My leg is worse than ever it has been physically; emotionally, I have rarely felt so low as I did this time last week. I find it hard to believe in healing at all. I doubt whether I should even seek it. The Bible counsels patience.
Meanwhile, my mind still insists that it would be better for everyone if I weren’t here. Today, I feel no emotion at that recurring thought. I feel dead inside. Therapy that promises to help is an uncertain number of months away. If I’m able to stay living here to have it. God I hate the waiting.Please help me to patiently wait on You.