A few months ago, I received an email from a young man who was desperate. Suffering from two chronic injuries, he was forced to lay on his back all day long. He felt isolated and hopeless, and asked if I would seek God for a word for him. He wasn’t sure he was hearing from God clearly.
So I agreed but went a step further. I took some guys to his house to pray with him. Since then, he’s become a good friend, and although we’ve continued to pray for healing, he hasn’t been healed. Sometimes when I’m at work or playing with my kids on a bright weekend day, I think of my friend on his mattress, and it makes me sad.
I want my friend to be healed! You have people you want to be healed. You may want to be healed.
Is there a formula for physical healing?
If there was, I would have used it, and my friend would have played at the park with us.
- It’s hard to see your loved one struggle.
- It’s hard not to have the solution.
- It’s hard when you know God could heal in an instant.
But I’ve learned there’s no formula for physical healing.
You see this if you follow the narrative in Matthew 8. A leper asked Jesus to heal him—he asked healing for himself—and Jesus healed him. Next a centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant—he asked healing for someone else—and Jesus healed him. And Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law sick—no one asked for healing—and Jesus healed her.
Here are three different situations, right in a row:
- Jesus healed the one who asked.
- Jesus healed the one when someone else asked.
- Jesus healed when no one asked.
Were we to strip these occasions down to the common elements, and with a compound light microscope and beaker and stirrer thing, maybe we could find the elusive formula for physical healing.
But alas, I can find no hocus pocus, no right words, no right hoops through which to jump. All I can see is Sickness and Jesus. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe hanging around Jesus is the thing you’re supposed to do when you’re sick. It doesn’t mean your body will be healed, but it means you’ll have Jesus.
Perhaps physical healing isn’t the most important thing. Maybe deeper character is taking root. Maybe the heart is being primed. Maybe a testimony is being birthed. Maybe compassion is growing. Maybe stillness is becoming treasured. Maybe God is becoming a friend and a father.
If there was a formula for physical healing, we’d probably use it too often and miss out on the best God has to offer, because sometimes God does use pain, struggle and squirm as we may.
So even though there’s no formula to follow, I’m quite sure of these things:
- Unforgiveness and unrepentance can block healing, which is why James said to confess your sins so you may be healed (James 5).
- God’s will is not the same as ours (Isaiah 55:8).
- Jesus challenges us to be bold and persistent in what we ask for (Luke 11:8).
- Physical brokenness lasts only for a lifetime, but spiritual brokenness lasts forever.
- Lack of complete earthly healing is no indicator of a lack of God’s love.
I continue to pray for my friend, for healing yes, but for much more—a deeper faith, a deeper hope, a deeper love–and I hope his rubs off on me.
I could use what he has gained from this present sickness.