How Can I Find Balance Between Healing & Accepting My Disability?
Two dear people asked me to write on healing. One asked me to write about building faith to be able to heal more serious maladies through prayer. The other asked me to write about Christian attitudes towards handicaps, whereby God heals everyone. Wow!
Two ends of the spectrum. The one is a compassionate gentleman, who longs to see God answer prayers and do miracles of healing in the lives of those suffering. The other is a dear lady, who had polio as a child, and as a young woman faced the anger of Christians when their prayers didn’t result in her being healed.
To say I was clueless on how to proceed is an understatement! A few days ago a precious young lady shared how God used a verse to minister life to her in the midst of her suffering and disability. Her testimony has inspired me to attempt to address the issue of healing from a different perspective than may be considered politically correct.
Please read on! It is fun to be a Berean, a person of courage, who doesn’t instantly make up his or her mind and walk away, but who searches Scripture to learn God’s perspective on the issue.
God’s chosen way for others, like my dear friend mentioned above, is to use infirmity to do a deeper transformative work of grace within the heart.
Here’s an interesting fact. The Apostle Paul was a man familiar with the healing ministry! He was a man of great faith in the Messiah, who devoted himself to the Lord; to know Him, the power of the resurrection, the fellowship of the suffering of Christ as he experienced the Holy Spirit at work to perfect the life of Christ in him. Filled with the Spirit of God, multitudes were healed by him.
Yet this great man suffered illness. Three times he asked the Lord to heal him but he was not healed. In fact, the Lord said, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Paul bowed his head in submission and responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We love to quote this verse. Yet, there is a disconnect between it and the doctrine we embrace about human disabilities. If we get sick, our first thought may be, what did I do wrong? Sometimes religious people reinforce such thinking. When I was 12, a priest told me I had come to the hospital to die because I was bad.
Do you think it was terrible for that man, pretending to be a voice for God, to frighten children in such a cruel way? I do!
But have you ever secretly believed when God didn’t answer your prayers for someone to be healed, either it was because you weren’t good enough or because you didn’t have enough faith? Have you felt overwhelmed by a chronic illness or disability and felt you hadn’t suffered enough to deserve to be healed?
Neither can be true!
Timothy, deeply loved by the Apostle Paul, frequently suffered “infirmities”. This is the same word used in the verse above.
Paul saw Timothy as his son and prayed often for him. Yet Paul acknowledged God hadn’t healed Timothy. Instead, Paul challenged Timothy to avoid drinking water to help reduce illnesses that left him weak and incapacitated. (1 Ti 5:23).
And perhaps belief about healing has become divisive because we haven’t learned to be quiet in the Heavenly Father’s presence. In that quiet place as we rest and focus exclusively on our Beloved, all else fades into insignificance. In that secret place, the life of Christ is poured into us, the Holy Spirit enables us to discern the Father’s will, and empowers us to appropriate grace for the task the Father’s assigned.
We are not empowered from on high to do tasks we have assigned for ourselves.
I see you shaking your head. Where is this going?
God still heals. He desires to use you and I as vessels of healing to the broken people of our world. Some have the gift of physical healing and as they wait on the Lord will be guided to those He wants to touch. Paul and Timothy show us there are no guarantees that all will be healed.
Let us not forget the Lord’s primary desire is to heal the broken hearted and to set the captive free. He calls you and I to be His vessels, loving those who are hurting.
The Lord specifically uses infirmity to bless the one who is suffering. One of the most beautiful people I have ever met is Joni Erickson Tada. She was seriously disabled as a teen, yet God has chosen not to heal her. Did He make a mistake? Once she thought so.
Today, Joni would tell you it is the mercy of God that allowed her to become a quadriplegic. As a result of her inner healing, countless lives have been impacted for eternity.
My Grace is Sufficient
Centuries ago God said to Paul, My grace of speech, the sweetness, charm, loveliness of my words, my verbal kindness to you is enough for you to be content.
Paul didn’t expect to hear that. But he chose to learn to rejoice with great pleasure. As he rejoiced in his physical disability with its suffering and limitations, he experienced the wondrous, miraculous power of Christ resting on him as Christ tabernacled in his frail body. Paul learned to glory in his weakness as he experienced the sweetness of God’s verbal kindness satisfying his deepest needs.
This isn’t an easy lesson to learn. I experienced great frailty some years ago. I felt ashamed, believing God was displeased with me. When He didn’t heal me and I continued to grow weaker, I felt rejected and thought He loved others but didn’t care about me because I wasn’t good enough to be loved.
When I began to claim His gracious words were enough for me to be content, I stopped striving, stopped feeling sorry for myself, and began to rest. It was wonderful. Truly, as Amy Carmichael said, “In acceptance lieth peace.”
Last week the Lord said to my dear friend, “My words of kindness to you are enough; they are all you need to be satisfied and content. For My strength, my miraculous power is made complete and brought to perfection in your sickness, infirmity, disease, and even in your moral frailty.”
Today, no matter your physical condition or your thoughts on healing, the Lord loves you. He loves the one who longs to see multitudes healed. He loves the person in pain, confined to a wheelchair, and needing daily care. He even loves the one who in anger demands to be healed or demands those suffering be healed.
The Father’s love is gentle and tender; His promise is the same to each of us regardless of our performance. “My gracious, kind words are all you need to face each day.”
What does that mean? It means you are not a failure; you are not rejected. Nor do you need to earn God’s love! You are loved just as you are.
Whatever your suffering, Jesus is sufficient. He is sufficient when God answers your prayers with silence. He is sufficient in the midst of your pain, your limitation, your suffering. It can never be Jesus plus healing. Jesus is all you need to be content. Jesus is enough for life, especially when you don’t understand why you or one you love suffers.
Let us not forget, you and I are His workmanship. As the Holy Spirit recreates us into the image of Christ, He raises the fire so the dross will surface. As we struggle – either when we don’t see people healed, or because we are weak and even handicapped by life, we may joy and rejoice. In fact, we are commanded to rejoice in every situation.
Yes, you are right. It is painful and unfair, but even in your disabilities, you may take courage, for your disability is the very proof the Heavenly Father’s favor rests upon you.
As you rejoice, trusting He is good – even when you can’t see His goodness, He will draw you deeper into sweet intimacy with Himself as He showers you with His gracious love.
Father God, please help us lift our voices in adoration and praise, learning to be content where You have placed us. Help us trust You are good. Help us rejoice and give thanks and no matter our situation, may we be content with your gracious words of loving kindness. Amen.
Word definitions taken from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on Blue Letter Bible.
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This is so beautiful! Thank you for accepting this challenging topic to seek the Lord about and write on. Your blog brings so much clarity in an area that can be so confusing in the church. For a long time, I assumed I was rejected by God because I wasn’t healed, and then I worked and strove to try to make myself better to be able to say, “I’m healed.” Still today, I sometimes have a hard time admitting when I am unwell and hurting because I’ve spent so much time trying to perform like I’m okay in an attempt to seem like God’s favor was upon me. When you said, “We are not empowered from on high to do tasks we have assigned for ourselves,” that spoke into that area.
How wonderful the truth that the Father loves us and that even infirmities are proof of the Father’s tender compassion and care for us! What good news to those hurting and feeling like they are forgotten, rejected, unloved. It’s quite the opposite! I love the truth that even a “disability is the very proof the Heavenly Father’s favor rests upon you.”
I found it interesting to hear 2 Cor 12:9 focused on God’s gracious words/speech/verbal kindness. My concept of grace in this verse before reading this blog post was much more abstract, but the way you’ve gone deeper into the words gives me something much more concrete and tangible to hold on to–His Word! No matter what our weakness, He has graciously given us His sweet Word to meditate on and soak in His love. I hope to grow in resting in His presence and soaking in His gracious and lovely words.