Day 20 – March 16

My name is Gina and I’m here to start a new week with you in our 40-day Lent journey. We’re halfway through!

Theme: Cooperating with God in our healing

Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1–17 (The Message)

Reflection

When I was a child, my mother slipped on a wet floor and tore a ligament in her knee. After she had surgery to repair the ligament, she had to do physical therapy. She said it was incredibly painful, but although the doctor had done his job well in repairing the ligament, it would not heal with the kind of elasticity and flexibility she had previously unless she exercised it several times a week with a trained professional. She faithfully performed the sometimes agonizing physical therapy and her full motion was restored.

I knew someone else who had a similar surgery. She refused to do the physical therapy afterward, and for the rest of her life she could not move independently without the aid of a walker, and later was confined to a wheelchair.

In the same way, when God initiates and leads a work in us, our job is to fully cooperate with what He’s doing. We don’t get to passively sit there while God does everything. He expects us to participate in some way. It doesn’t mean that we are responsible for our own healing or miracles. But it does mean that we submit to His instructions and follow them, the same way we would if a doctor were treating us, and asked us to do certain things on our own at home to maintain or improve on what he has done for us.

God is often called The Great Physician. This isn’t just a metaphor. The Bible is full of stories of miraculous physical healings. What’s interesting is that it seems the healings often occurred in vastly different ways.

A beloved story in Mark 5 describes a woman who bled for 12 years, and whose bleeding stopped instantaneously when she merely grabbed hold of the hem of Jesus’ clothes.

In another instance from Matthew 8, Jesus actually touched a leper, His healing more powerful than the contagious skin disease. In John 9, Jesus mixed some of His own saliva into some mud and spread it on a blind man’s eyes to restore his sight.

In one of the Bible’s more whimsical healing instructions, Isaiah 38:21, the prophet Isaiah instructed that a cake made of figs be applied to Hezekiah’s deadly boil to heal it. (If only we could stick a piece of cake on our cuts and bruises to heal them.)

Does this mean that if we pray for healing, and we don’t receive it, that we didn’t ask with enough faith, or have done something wrong and are being punished?

This story does not resolve these questions. We must set those aside for another day. What we see here is that God, in His holy and sovereign love, decides how He will work in our lives.

Namaan, a man with great power and status, had envisioned a magical ceremony where the equally great and powerful prophet Elijah stood before him and performed an impressive religious ritual. Namann was offended when he was given the humiliating instructions (through a lowly servant, no less, as if the prophet was too busy to bother) to go dunk himself in a muddy foreign river. He also didn’t believe it would work. How could such a simple and mortifying instruction heal him when his status or money could not buy it?

There were three things God was doing in Namaan’s life through this episode:

  1. Humbling a proud and powerful man
  2. Teaching him that God alone decides how He will work, and that it was Namaan’s role to participate with Him.
  3. Teaching him that God is God. There is no power in heaven and earth greater – or more loving – than our God.

Because Namaan cooperated, he was physically healed. But more importantly, he grew in humility, and he praised and worshiped the only true God from that time forward.

God has gifted us with free will. That means we can choose to cooperate with His work in us, or we can refuse it. God’s grace first awakens our spirits to the fact that we need Him. He initiates this part of the work, but He does not force His treatments or surgeries on us if we refuse to participate and do our own part, which He also gives us the grace to do.

The Church of the Nazarene describes this process in Article of Faith 10.1,

“We believe that the grace of entire sanctification includes the divine impulse to grow in grace as a Christlike disciple. However, this impulse must be consciously nurtured, and careful attention given to the requisites and processes of spiritual development and improvement in Christlikeness of character and personality. Without such purposeful endeavor, one’s witness may be impaired and the grace itself frustrated and ultimately lost.”

We hold partial responsibility for our relationship with God. We need to obediently trust Him by doing whatever He asks us—such as avoiding temptation, seeking guidance from a mature believer, and being rooted in the Spirit through Bible reading and prayer.

Namaan is a beautiful example to us for how to live in relationship with God, through humility, obeying without question God’s sometimes enigmatic instructions or leading, and praising and thanking God for what He is doing and what we have faith He will do. Even if we don’t always understand it.

Let’s pray.

Prayer

Lord, you are our Great Physician. You are our wonderful healer, healing our bodies, our minds, our emotions and our spirits. You do this in the way You believe is best for us, and in Your perfect and good timing. When You choose not to heal us in the ways and timing we desire, we humbly and obediently submit to You anyway.  Because, we believe what is written in Romans 8:28, that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Grow our trust in You, so that we obey and follow You in even when we can’t make sense of what You’re doing, or don’t see You working. Grow our humility, so that we don’t experience the pain of thinking we know better than You, or trying to find healing in our own ways, without You.

But God, we see that in the Bible You are pleased when we ask You for healing. So, please heal us. Heal those of us who are in physical pain, who are suffering from chronic illnesses, cancer, autoimmune disorders, injuries and from seasonal viruses. Work through miracles and the prayers of your people, and through doctors and treatments, as well.

Please heal those of us suffering the anguish of mental illness, for whom scientific understanding and treatments are only moderately helpful or don’t help us at all. Please heal us from the lingering torment of past traumas and abuses. Give us victory over these, and new life.

We ask You to heal us from addictions – whether it is addiction to a substance like alcohol or a drug, or to pornography, sex, gambling, shopping, social media and technology.

Heal us from our spiritual diseases, such as pride and arrogance, self-pity, unforgiveness, regret and shame, fear and anxiety, self-hatred, racism, bigotry and prejudice.

You are the God of healing. You can do anything and heal anyone. In whatever way You choose to heal us, or be close to us in our suffering with Your peace and comfort, we choose to witness to what You have done and are doing, to praise You and give You glory. And we also choose to wait on You.

We love You.

Amen.

Conclusion

The additional scripture passages for today are from:

Luke 4:23–30

Psalm 42:1–7

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