The Yes and No of Healing
The Yes and No of Healing
A few years ago, as I scanned the congregation before the service, I again saw David and his wife, sitting in the back. He now attends regularly, but that had not always been the case. He had avoided church for years—until his wife became seriously ill and was suddenly healed when a group of us prayed with her. Though he had witnessed that miracle, David (no real names are used) avoided asking for prayer for himself, though at times he liked me to pray for him and his wife as they received Holy Communion together. This Sunday he asked for prayer as he came forward for Communion, explaining, "My father died."
At the end of the service, I saw him sitting alone, hunched over in the back of the church. I sat down next to him. David talked about how his father had not been an affectionate man; he rarely let David know that he loved him. The wounds of rejection and the need for fatherly affirmation were deep. As we prayed about that deep hurt, the love of the Father came over him. In the middle of our conversation, tears began welling up in his eyes as he heard deep within himself the Father's affirmation: "You are my child."
Through the tears he said, "I have never experienced anything like this before." At that moment, the lie that he had believed, "I am not loveable," was broken by the truth of God penetrating his heart. That inner healing opened him up to share with me that he and his wife were struggling in their marriage. Over the ensuing weeks, he came to me regularly for healing prayer, became more open with his wife, and their relationship began to improve.
Once the marital crisis passed, David stopped coming for healing prayer because he thought everything was fine. Then he had an affair. He came rushing back for healing prayer. Again God provided healing. He broke off the adulterous affair, and after a few marital counseling sessions that included inner healing prayer, the marriage was on the mend.
One day he answered a phone call from his former mistress, and soon he was right back in the affair. This cycle repeated several times until his wife had the papers drawn up for divorce. His chances were all used up as far as she was concerned.
Today, David still attends church, sitting by himself in a pew in the back of the church, always with his head hanging down. I feel both frustration with him and compassion for him.
Healing is at the very heart of God. "I am the lord, who heals you" (Ex. 15:26). The healing theme runs throughout the metanarrative of the Bible: Creation to Fall to redemption to consummation. Every stage involves healing, restoration, reconciliation, and transformation of God's people in spirit, soul (mind, will, emotion), and body through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yet I have found in my ministry of healing that David's experience is not isolated. It raises important questions about how that healing manifests itself between redemption and consummation. Was David's original healing genuine? Was he perhaps "unhealed"?
How do we understand this, especially those of us who believe in and practice healing?
The Powerful No
Leanne Payne is well known in many Christian circles for her ministry of inner soul healing. In her book The Healing Presence: Curing the Soul Through Union with Christ, she says that healing is blocked by, among other things, lack of self-acceptance for who we really are. That is, we are created in the image of God but find it hard to believe. Where does this lack of self-acceptance come from?