Thursday, December 31, 2009

Faith Works 1-02

Faith Works 1-2-10
Jeff Gill

Healings May Just Be the Everyday Supernatural

I believe in healing, not that this represents a solution to the ongoing health care debate.

Over the last month, I've had some pretty unpleasant surgery. Not the sort that carries deep and momentous consequences for the future (i.e., no cancer involved), but to deal with some health issues that have been impairing my well-being, functioning, and general upkeep for some years now.

The aftermath, part of what the medical team calls "the healing process" had its own particular elements of nasty, but as Dr. Shakespeare says, "all's well that ends well." This particular surgical intervention has worked, the medications were effective, and I'm feeling healthier than I have for literally years and years.

What the doctor and nurses and staff would all agree about is that healing, per se, is made possible in some cases by surgical intervention and by medications both prescription and off-the-shelf; but, it really happens within the person of the patient, which is to say, not even just with that one individual.

Healing requires the active support of family and friends, and of your state of mind, which is dependent on your surroundings as much as your interior life. Healing demands that you be in a community of concern, as opposed to being surrounded by those who just want you to go back to old and often self-destructive ways.

In other words, you can't heal a person with a pill and a scalpel, and no one knows that better than medical professionals.

Which is why, I suspect, you find so many highly trained, totally professional health care folks who value prayer as a key element in healing. They won't impose it, but they do ask if you have "personal or spiritual practices that aid in pain management" and other such oblique queries. Prayer is there, all the time, often right where you least expect it.

Because if a drug alone, or just an incision and poking about would cure people, they'd know it. They'd see it. And they don't.

Prayer and spiritual healing means different things to different people. Oral Roberts, who died a few weeks ago, did a great deal to both renew interest in the intersection of spiritual and physical healing, and also to cloud the issue. God be good to him. His excesses in aid of a TV ministry may have given a peculiar cast to the light in which many people view his work and that of his many successors, who make promises that imply God's favor is tied to checks put in the mail.

What can't be obscured is that the human body is an amazingly complex physical organism, "fearfully and wonderfully made." The very best of medical science does not always know what is going on, whether it has to do with allergic reactions, vertigo, heart rhythms, or brain waves.

The very best of religious thinking, or theology, says (at least in the Christian tradition) that miraculous cures are not given as rewards or in response to our efforts or worth, but that those inexplicable moments of grace are meant as signs. The whole Gospel of John is tied up with this awareness, that healings do not come to the deserving or even to those to whom they might be expected, but that each miracle is meant to point beyond itself to the fullness of God's purposes.

So we pray for cures, but what prayer is most fruitful in is healing. That nearly mysterious and very poorly understood process whereby the strange device called a body continues to express thoughts and ideas and hopes and dreams. To endure and continue and cope, to recover from the wounds of this world and to keep on keepin' on – that takes a little bit of healing every day.

Which is a downright miraculous phenomenon that happens all around us, every day. Do we overlook the power of that kind of healing because it isn't dramatic enough, isn't big enough to impress us with our own significance? Or might appreciating and valuing the sort of everyday miracle of healing, physical and spiritual, that gets most of us along our journey actually do a better of job of giving God the glory on a daily basis?

You could pray about it!

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a healing tale at, or follow Knapsack