Given this, where is God in the midst of illness? What’s His response to sickness and pain? I was glad to be able to speak at St Luke’s on the topic of healing last weekend. You can listen to the full audio of the talk here. This is just to recap a few of the main points, and reflect a little further having delivered it twice over.
Our God is the God who heals. He’s the God who is about the healing of all things – healing our fractured relationships with reconciliation; healing our scarred planet; healing our inner turmoil of fear and guilt and shame; amongst much, much else.
And right at the heart of all that, our God is the God who heals our frail bodies. Having created them, he’s the one who knows them best. Loving us with an unfailing love, he longs to take away our pain. Powerful beyond measure, nothing is beyond him.
God’s been doing this from the start. He announces to Moses, ‘…I am the LORD who heals you’ (Exodus 15 verse 26) just after liberating his people from slavery in Egypt.
God, incarnate on earth in Jesus Christ, healed people time and again – of all manner of conditions, in a variety of ways. Jesus told the first disciples, ‘As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead…Freely you have received; freely give.’ (Matthew 10 verses 7-8)
They took him at his word, with remarkable consequences – the blessing of the healing they saw being doubled over, as much for them in what they learned through that act of faith, as for those they met in the process of receiving abundantly from God.
God, leading us to a brilliant future by the Holy Spirit, will heal all things as his kingdom comes in all its fullness. All evil will be overcome, all suffering will cease, all brokenness will be healed. ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them…‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…’ (Revelation 21 verses 3-4)
Healing is so much of what God is about. He wants to meet us at the point of our pain, comforting us with his love, and leading us out of it into wholeness and fullness of life. And then, we, having freely received, are empowered by God to go and heal others. If it’s what God is about, then it’s what we, his followers, are about too.
What an exciting commission: being obedient to the Father, using the authority of Jesus the Son, with the love and power of the Holy Spirit; meeting people in their pain and connect them with the God who will overcome it.
At St Luke’s, we believe that God is more willing to answer our prayers, including our prayers for healing, than we are to offer them. We long to be a people who dare to offer the impossible prayers to God, knowing that he makes the impossible possible. We long to be a place where brokenness is healed, pain is banished, and love is poured out.
‘God’s gift to you is ability. Your gift to God is availability. But he says, you go first. You give your availability, and the ability will meet you there.’ Robby Dawkins
God didn’t just heal then. He heals now.
God doesn’t just heal elsewhere. He heals in North London.
God doesn’t just heal through others. He heals through us.