Archives for posts with tag: compassion

When we look at the New Testament and why people ARE healed divinely, it is really quite interesting to see the diversity of experiences people have of Jesus’ healing. The common thread is that Jesus heals in response to faith, and in response to our asking.

The Gospel of Mark is a really wonderful place to read to see some of the variety of experiences people had with Jesus with physical healing.

Sometimes he heals a person in response to someone else’s faith, like the parents who asked for healing for their child (Mark 5), or the four friends who lowered the paralytic through the roof so they could get close enough to Jesus (Mark 2).

Sometimes he heals in response to obedience like the one who first he forgives the man’s sin (sometimes it seems we really do need healing because of our own sin) – in Mark 2:5 – then he heals him.

Sometimes Jesus heals simply because of his own compassion:

  Luke 7:11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Sometimes we need to be PERSISTENT in prayer. There are several times in the gospels where it says people had to ask repeatedly (Mark 5:23, Mark 7:25-29). We sometimes give up too soon.

Sometimes Jesus would heal just to prove a point – I mean, wouldn’t you love to be healed just to prove a point in a sermon? Wouldn’t that be great to see on Sundays? In Mark 3:3 this happened.

It does seem to be the case, that when God wants to establish that HIS KINGDOM is come, like when Jesus walked on earth, or when the early church was being established, or other strong moves of his Holy Spirit around the world in modern day, that there often seems to be a strong move of God’s healing power.

When we AREN’T divinely healed – WHY?

Stay with me here, because this part is where you could get offended if you don’t read all the way through. And remember, I am still awaiting my healing… so if you’ve been praying for healing, and it hasn’t happened, please know that sometimes not receiving healing has NOTHING to do with anything that we are or are not doing. Okay? But sometimes it does. And I want to look at that part first.

Sometimes it is as simple as looking back at those lists – we aren’t healed because we aren’t asking! We aren’t healed because we don’t have faith, we don’t even consider it as one of the possible remedies to our problems. We aren’t expecting it. We lack persistence in prayer.

Sometimes it is because we are not being obedient ― There are times God asked people to participate in their own healing by doing some sort of act of obedience, like in John 9 where the blind man was sent to wash in a certain pool.  There are also times when we face affliction because we are not doing what God has asked us to do. The founder of the Foursquare movement, Aimee Semple McPherson, is an example of this: when she came back from China and was remarried and now a mother of two, she was gravely ill on her deathbed. God had a call on her life, and she was not following through. Imagine with me: young woman, two kids, called to preach, and her husband wasn’t fully keen on the idea. But she knew what God was asking of her. And her body was literally wasting away because she was resisting the call of the Holy Spirit on her life. Sick in bed, she finally called out – God if you are calling me, and you will heal me, I will go. So God healed her, and she went! Deathbed bargaining with God isn’t always the best plan, but I guess it worked in this case. She even went on to have an amazing healing ministry herself.

Aimee Healing

As I said, I am in the middle of my healing journey – I’m not calling it my illness journey, I am calling it my healing journey – and I am asking myself all those things. God, is there sin in my life? Am I lacking trust in you and allowing stress to ravage my life? Am I allowing pride to get in the way of your healing?

Healing usually doesn’t happen in the dark. Sometimes Jesus would say “don’t tell!” but usually people couldn’t help but spread the word and publicly praise God for healing! In other time, he called people out. Like in the story of woman bleeding for 12 years (Mark 5) who touched Jesus’ robe, and Jesus was like, “Oh I am happy to heal but let’s give the Father the glory for this y’all! Who touched me? Who was healed?”

If we are going to ask for healing we ought to at least be willing to give God the glory! If shame is keeping you in the dark and you are praying for God to heal you, but you aren’t willing to tell anyone about what it is you need healed, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you will not be healed without bringing whatever it is to the light. And that goes for more than just physical healing – all that I am saying is true for emotional healing, healing of marriages or other broken relationships, healing of addictions or bad habits or thought patterns or mental illness. If there is any area of your life that needs healing – or really, we all need it so I should say WHATEVER your need of healing is, not IF you need healing – whatever it is, BRING IT TO THE LIGHT. It doesn’t have to be a crowd. Where two or more are gathered, God is there!

Sometimes God wants us to participate in our healing, and when we are not willing to be full participants in the story God has designed for our lives, sometimes that is why we lack the fullness of his blessing in our lives, which can include physical healing.

But sometimes none of this has anything to do with it… sometimes God is just writing a different story for our lives. ALL of God’s stories are good stories, but they definitely do not all have the same ending, and sometimes the “happy” ending is the one that comes when we transfer to eternity, and sometimes the triumph is not at all what you would expect it to be. So check in tomorrow and I’ll talk about that!

Today I continue in my exploration of the interesting women mentioned in Jesus’ ancestry. Matthew 1:4-5 leads me to Rahab, wife of Salmon, mother of Boaz, great-great-grandmother of King David. Her story is told in Joshua 2 and 6. The story, however, isn’t about a pious Hebrew woman, but about a Canaanite prostitute, and resident of Jericho when Joshua famously led the march which toppled the walls. She didn’t just pretend to be a prostitute as Tamar; she was a legitimate, well-known prostitute in a pagan city. And Jesus is proud to call her an ancestor. WHAT???!!!

This is actually not the first time I have written about Rahab, for she is mentioned again in James, and in a similar ping-back to the Old Testament, I took a look at her life as an example of faith.

As I reflect on what she means in the Christmas story, and why God is proud to mention her as an ancestor of his Son, what I see is an extraordinary symbol of hope. No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, how many decisions you are proud of, or how many things you regret, there is room for you to come to the manger and meet Jesus this Christmas. She was “grafted in” to the line of Christ because she was willing to take a stand with God’s people, and risk her own life to protect those who followed the promise of God. Perhaps she had no faith at the time. Perhaps she was just a shrewd woman who knew how to read the signs of the times. As her people sat in fear of the Israelites, she did more than fear. She took action. But after she was rescued from her crumbling and ruined city, she didn’t continue in an unhealthy lifestyle of prostitution. Instead, she settled down and married a nice Jewish boy… in what eventually became the royal line.

Why was she a prostitute? We don’t know. Maybe she chose it with her eyes open. Maybe it was the only way she could see to save her family from poverty. Maybe she was forced into it. The circumstances don’t matter. It is the redemption that matters. Redemption is always what matters!!

Jesus, as I look to you today, thank you for this reminder that everyone is welcome to be where you are. Just as you were not ashamed of this ancestor, so you were not ashamed of the broken women you encountered in your ministry in Israel. You always show love and compassion.

Help me today, Lord, to treat everyone with your compassion, regardless of their current circumstance, or how they got there. I don’t know why the homeless are homeless. I don’t know why the single mothers are single, or why the ones who seem to have it all together are actually hurting so much inside. I don’t know why some people can’t seem to hold a job – or even a conversation – without making grave social faux pas. I do know that people are broken, and we need a savior. We don’t want to be broken… we just don’t know how to fix ourselves. You gave Rahab a second chance, and as far as we can tell, she lived a healthier life as part of your people than she did apart from your people. You, God, have always been the answer. I don’t have the answer. I don’t know all the information, and I don’t get to judge. But I do have the opportunity, if I will embrace it, to extend love and compassion. Help me be that voice, and that embrace, and lead people to you this Christmas. Amen.