Tuesday, May 31, 2011


"I'm waiting on God for healing. Don't you do that?"

I wasn't sure how to respond. There was hesitation in her eyes after I answered.

So I'm sitting here thinking about healing and waiting and what we mean when we say such things. I realise I have never thought I needed healing. I don't have a serious illness, and I assume that's what healing is for. I pray for people with pain or with cancer, for friends after accidents and babies with congenital problems. And I prayed for this questioner, today.

Are the medications and therapies we give her the answers to my prayer (and hers)? Is it what she is waiting for? Would it be more obviously the work of God if it seemed more impossible or miraculous? Is waiting on God an active or a passive process?

We each speak a language of faith, and the words can be vague. There are a range of dialects. Because I understand her words in my own way, I cannot meet her with clarity. I cannot answer in a way that engenders trust. I became just another doctor whose faith is suspicious and doubting about the glorious, miraculous healing of God. I really want to taste her uncompromising hope, and I fear that I have bound God into my own rational, scientific paradigm. Have I forgotten that His possibility and scope far transcend my conception of Him?

But I want her to take her medication, because she has been crippled, imprisoned and gagged without it. I am responsible to engage her in this treatment and not give her a reason to doubt it. Then I find myself with deeper ties to her than I had supposed. She is my sister, and that counts. It matters if she thinks I'm her sister, too.

There is another quiet question in the room... Is she the one who sees God clearly? Is her psychosis actually ecstatic communion with God?

I know that Jesus healed a psychotic man and his mind became clear. This tells me clarity is better than psychosis. But are religious delusions really delusions or are they just a breaking through of an intense, consuming meeting with God into someone's life? If Peter described the transfiguration to me in a moment of excitement, would I think he had been hallucinating and that he was unwell?

I need to wrestle with these questions. I need to know that God is working in the rational and explainable and that he also labours in the mysterious and transcendent. Paradoxically, I can trust in medication that is the work of human hands and therapy guided by human minds, while also putting my faith in the inexplicable divine touch to bring healing.

In the midst of madness or surrounded by sanity, Jesus is present and is not overwhelmed. He knows and understands, even if I am still puzzled.

What do you think?


Chelsey said...

This is such a thought provoking post...

I trust that God has equipped those who create the medications that "heal" symptoms while I also trust that God can miraculously heal a person completely.

I wrote a post on faith and healing too...

Mommy Emily said...

Is waiting on God an active or a passive process?

friend, what a challenging and profound post. as i told chelsey, i have watched my mother battle eight years of brain cancer with the prayers seeming to no-avail, and then one day, the tumor, gone, and all of our prayers realized. i think he works differently for each, and waiting can be both active and passive. loved this. xo

alittlebitograce said...

In the midst of madness or surrounded by sanity, Jesus is present and is not overwhelmed.

As someone who struggles with mental illness, this piece especially the line above, touched me. I trust that God can heal me and yet I wonder will He? How much am I supposed to be doing myself? I have many questions and not enough faith. So I wait, grabbing tight onto my little bit of faith, hoping for healing.