Monday, April 23, 2012

Follow up to our healing prayer night

On Sunday, April 15th I had another opportunity to speak at the local Teen Challenge men's center.  As the date was approaching, and I was asking the Lord what he would have me speak about, I felt that he simply wanted me to speak from where we are in life right now.  This was only two days after our church's Healed and Made Whole prayer night where we prayed for any and all who are sick to be healed.

What a wonderful night that was!  Corrie and I were both part of prayer teams and we were blessed to be able to pray healing, deliverance, and freedom over many dear friends and acquaintances.  I have told several people that there is something extra that rises up within me when I am praying for healing for others.  The same goes for Corrie.  Our hearts resonate with this ministry, and it is our sincere desire that God uses us in this way for years and years to come.

I also received prayer for healing that night but as of yet have not noticed any distinguishable improvement.  In fact, I've received prayer for healing many times since getting sick, and I am still not better.  And this brings me back to what was on my heart to share at Teen Challenge: the time between God's promise and the fulfillment of that promise.  What do we do when we pray for healing fervently and faith-filledly and victoriously, but then nothing happens?  Do we give up and assume that it must not be God's will to heal me?  Do we pray again?  Do we wait?

This is a question that I've wrestled with many times in the last 5 years.  It is the hardest thing in the world to believe that Jesus both can and wants to heal me when I currently see no healing taking place.  No wonder the argument, "Sometimes it is not God's will to heal.  He must be using this for a greater purpose.  He wants to bring glory to himself by refining you through your sickness"--No wonder that argument sounds so appealing!  When we believe in something over and over again with no visible results, it's only natural to think that maybe we're wrong.

But what about the promises?  Jeremiah 1:12 says that God watches over his word to perform it.  And then, 2 Corinthians tells us that all of the promises of God are "Yes" in Christ.  Given these and many other assurances in the Bible that God will indeed perform his word, we should hold on to every promise that he has for us until it comes.  These promises are our very inheritance as children of God.  They are the links that connect us to the Kingdom.  And when they are fulfilled, they are the signs to the world that the Kingdom of God is really here.  So shouldn't we fight for them?

In my honest evaluation of the Scriptures, I can't find enough compelling evidence to make me believe that God DOESN'T want to heal me.  Everything points the other direction.  Of course, maybe I'm wrong.  But the things that make me think I'm wrong are experience and my own wonderings, not Scripture.  And, as I've said before, I think that we have to hold to the Bible as truth even above our sensory experience...otherwise...well, that's another topic.

So, all that said, I believe God has given Corrie and me promises for healing, both through his Word and through others...but the fulfillment hasn't come.  The story I spoke about at Teen Challenge recently is from 2 Kings 18-19 when Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, takes the entire northern kingdom of Israel captive, proceeds to take over most of the cities of the southern kingdom of Judah, and basically surrounds Jerusalem with his massive armies, ready to wipe out the city and its king, Hezekiah.

Basically, Sennacherib sends messengers to yell threats and accusations against God, saying he won't rescue them, and against Hezekiah, saying that he has lied to the people in telling them that they should trust God for deliverance.  He then makes a compelling offer to the people: Resist me and die, or give in to me and enjoy a better life than you've even had before.  Hezekiah hears this, gets freaked out, and seeks a word from God.  God says that Sennacherib won't even touch the city and will return to his own home, leaving Jerusalem and the people of Judah in peace.

BUT that doesn't least immediately.  Sennacherib threatens again with a letter, so Hezekiah takes the letter to the temple and spreads it before the Lord, basically saying, "Hello!  You said this guy was going to leave!  He's still here and more dangerous than ever!"  Long story short:  God tells Hezekiah the same thing as before, and then slaughters the Assyrian army, and Sennacherib goes home never to bother Judah again.

I think that this story is exactly where Corrie and I are.  We are holding fast to a promise from the Lord for healing and deliverance from this form of bondage.  But the enemy hasn't retreated yet.  It's still there, knocking at our front door.  So where do we go?  If we keep looking out over the walls of the city to the massed armies, we tend to only fear and worry and doubt.  We start to wonder that maybe God doesn't have the answer we need.  So we've GOT to run to the temple!  We have GOT to get into the presence of the Lord and present these threats to him over and over and over and over so that he can quiet our spirit, whisper his words of promise and of life to us, and give us strength to keep going until the enemy flees.  And we know that he WILL flee.


One last thought: I just re-stumbled upon a verse the other day:  Deuteronomy 7:22-23: "And the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.  But he LORD your God will deliver them over to you, and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed."

Maybe sometimes there is a delay in the promise because we are not yet strong enough to receive the answer immediately.  Complete instant victory might sometimes result in weak Christians.  Perhaps we have to go through a period of fighting and driving out the enemies slowly so that we won't be overcome by the beasts of pride, complacence, self-reliance that can creep in when victory is too easy.

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