When it comes to miracles, I admit I tend to be skeptical, or at least doubtful that such displays of God’s power could possibly blossom from my feeble prayers. But lately, God’s been shifting my perspective about miracles, particularly physical healing—not only through life experiences, but through His Word.
In Matthew 10:8, Jesus commands his disciples “[To] heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, [and] cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” You may think, as I have, that from this verse we should infer that Jesus was exclusively commanding His “spiritual giant” disciples to heal people in ministry. After all, how many times have we laid hands on sick friends and family and experienced success? Seemingly never. Then again….we don’t usually dare lay hands on people, and even more rarely do we expect God to work miracles through us! Jesus (and Moses and Sampson and Joshua and Peter and…heck, just about everybody in the Bible!) aside, who are we to expect God to show up in a supernatural way?
And then I read John 14:12-14, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father…If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
I don’t know about you, but “he who believes in me” doesn’t sound so exclusive. In fact, I am positive that it is wholly inclusive, and that all who have been saved by belief in Jesus Christ and thus possess God’s Holy Spirit have been granted the power to heal others (Mark 16:17-18). Now, Jesus healed every person He approached, as well as every person who approached Him.
So maybe you are one of the few who tries to use this power and you ask, “Why didn’t Aunt Linda’s cancer go away when we prayed for her to be healed?” “Why does my friend still have ulcerative colitis? Doesn’t God care?” “Why doesn’t it work all the time when I pray for healing?” There are no easy answers, but here are some Biblical responses:
1) God expects all of His children to be obedient to His call to minister regardless of the results—might they be outward failure, rejection, or even persecution (1 Peter 4:16-17).
2) Laying hands on people and boldly asking God for someone to be healed require us to exercise our faith (“faith without works is dead” James 2:14-17), and to be dependent on God’s presence. What happens after we lay hands on someone isn’t really our business—it’s God’s.
3) “God’s ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9);” we don’t know why God does everything He does, and if we did, we would be God!
The Bible clearly avers that God’s children are called to minister to the world with healing hands, but what does that look like on a day-to-day basis? I’m sure it works out a little bit differently for everybody, but it ultimately boils down to our preparedness (spending time with God before interacting with people) and our willingness (being obedient to God’s promptings at all costs).
So in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous challenge “Do one thing every day that scares you,” let’s all purpose to leap out of our spiritual comfort zones this week and love that person next to us in line at the grocery store, or that guy with the limp who walks his German shepherd in front of our house every Sunday. Whoever that person is, that someone needs to experience Jesus—healing hands and all.