Friday, May 16, 2014

A second question - about human will (2)

It’s about physical healing.

Clearly, Jesus wants to know whether this ill man wants to be well in body. We can only guess how much hope this invalid has invested (and continues to invest) in the pool's healing waters, and how disconcerted he is by Jesus' question.  Just why does this Jesus think he can ask him about being well?  Does he have some right to talk about physical healing?  By his answer the ill man will show how willing he is to give Jesus a role in his healing?   It remains a critical question.  Just how much are we willing to give Jesus a role in healing.

This morning I passed a church notice board which advertises:  'Welcome to our weekday communion service with prayers for healing'.   I wondered how many people would take this opportunity seriously.  I think, very few.  When you already have a route for healing (even if it has disappointed so far as for this man by the Sheep Gate) how much expectation do we have that Jesus Christ might be at work making ill people well.

Can it be that behind this question: 'Do you will to be well?'  lies the challenge to place trust in the one who asks it?  This is a profound question from Jesus about healing.  And maybe it directly affects you or someone you deeply care about. And you wonder what might happen in the situation of disease and suffering.   Alongside the gifts of God in medical science is Jesus there adding his power?

When my friend Dr. Bob Webber was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he was sent home, off all treatment.  His oncologist said: You have two to four weeks left to live.  He knew that his cancer was terminal, but some six weeks later he sent an email called “living between two realities.” He shared how since his last email (the previous week) he had been steadily improving and how much he and his wife valued our prayers because he was convinced that God was answering them, and that all the improvement so far is because of God’s healing powers.   I have kept his email:

We have been asking ourselves “how and what do you pray for” when you live in between your doctor’s realism, “I’ve never had a pancreatic patient survive” and the experience of feeling that “God is healing me”.

So how do you pray? I want to ask God to heal me but what if he already has. But I’m also reluctant to be presumptuous and tell everyone I’ve been healed given the statistical downside of pancreatic cancer and the fact that we are forgoing any definite tests for now, like a MRI, CT scan or PET scan.

So here is how we solved our dilemma. We live and pray one day at a time. We pray each day and say, “Thank you God for the healing you gave me today. Please heal me tomorrow”  It has occurred to both of us that if we were truly spiritually sensitive, we would have prayed that way all of our lives but it took the threat of imminent death to bring us to this point. 

To Jesus' question 'Do you want to be well', Bob's answer was 'Yes'. He lived for several months more and accomplished so much.  And I shall always remember that prayer (that I find particularly relevant): “Thank you God for the healing you gave me today. Please heal me tomorrow”


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