Thursday, December 24, 2015, 7:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 8:1-3 (NASB).
When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Faith and Humility
Jesus Christ is not only our Savior and Lord, but he is our Great Physician, i.e. he is our healer. He heals our sin sick souls, our broken hearts, our damaged emotions, our minds, and our physical bodies, as well as he delivers us out of slavery to sin and from the curse of sin and death. During Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, he healed many people, delivered from demonic possession and raised the dead. He performed miracle after miracle on behalf of the people. Thus, many people came to him with their afflictions in order to be healed.
As I have read multiple stories of Jesus’ healing of people when he was on the earth, I have noticed that, among those mentioned specifically, that many of those demonstrated great humility and enormous faith. This leper bowed before Jesus, and he believed Jesus could heal him, if he was willing. A centurion came to Jesus imploring him to heal his paralyzed servant. He did not feel worthy for Jesus to enter his home, and yet he believed that at Jesus’ word his servant would be healed. A synagogue official believed Jesus to raise his daughter from the dead. She had just died. A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, who had only gotten worse under the care of doctors, believed if she just touched Jesus’ garments that she would be healed. Jesus healed these people and many, many more. I believe even the fact that people came to him for healing, and/or brought their loved ones to him for healing, showed that they had the faith to believe Jesus could or would heal.
I can testify to Jesus’ healing power in my own life. First of all, he saved me from my sins, i.e. he delivered me from the curse of sin and death, and from bondage to sin, and he set me free to become a servant of his righteousness, all in the power and strength of his Spirit now living within me. Then, he healed me of damaged emotions which resulted from childhood abuse, some of which carried into my adult years. He taught me that I needed to forgive him for how I felt he failed me, and he taught me to trust in his sovereignty over my life. And, he continues to bring healing to my broken heart whenever I am wounded emotionally from mistreatment from others, especially when it comes from those whom I believe should treat me with love and kindness. He also brought much healing to my mind which had had some very wrong programming, and he renewed my mind by his Spirit.
As well, he has healed me physically many times, and continues to heal me physically on a somewhat daily basis. The biggest one for me was when he healed me from a 10 year long continuous headache that had resulted from permanent damage done to my central nervous system as a result of taking a particular psychiatric medication over an extended period of time. I should have trusted my own judgment on that, instead of trusting the doctor. When Jesus healed me of that 10 year headache, I felt like I was walking on air. I felt like someone had just released me from prison, I felt so free! I have been mostly medicine free for over five years now, I believe, though admittedly I do take in some low levels of caffeine in decaf drinks nearly daily, or in chocolate from time to time. I mention caffeine because it is considered to also be a drug which stimulates the central nervous system. Yet, I am willing to cut out chocolate and decaf drinks from my diet if the Lord should direct me to do so. I am praying this through right now. I believe he will let me know his will in this.
I will say here that there have been many days when I have been in severe pain, and I could have given in and taken something for it, such as ibuprofen, but I didn’t, not even when I had a tooth extracted. I pray through the pain most all the time, trusting my Lord for healing, and trusting not in myself. And, his mercies are new every morning. Amen! Yet, I confess that there were some times when I did take in a little caffeine when a headache was present, and I know I should not turn to caffeine to heal my headaches, but to the Lord alone for my healing, so I choose to not do that anymore. I trust the Lord to show me if caffeine should be completely eradicated from my diet. And, I will do what he tells me to do, because I love him, and I want to do what pleases him. I surrender all to him!
If You are Willing
This leper did not doubt Jesus’ ability to heal him. He knew Jesus would heal him, if he was willing. Jesus was willing, and the man was immediately cleansed (healed). So, are there times when it is not Jesus’ will to heal us? And, if so, what might some of those cases be?
Jesus was not willing to heal those whose hearts, ears and eyes were closed to Jesus’ words, and who were unwilling to repent of their sins (See: Matt. 13:15). Jesus could do no miracle in his hometown, among his own people, because of their unbelief, “except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” They took offense at him, and they did not give him the honor he so deserved (Mk. 6:1-6). Many of these who refused to believe in Jesus Christ actually opposed him and his healing ministry, and they went to great lengths to try to discredit him and to destroy his work among the people, even to the point of eventually hanging him on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong.
Yet, is this the only reason why it might not be Jesus’ will to heal someone, i.e. due to unbelief? Is it possible that Jesus might have other reasons or other purposes for not healing our every sickness (affliction)? I believe there are other reasons.
Sometimes Jesus does not heal, or he does not heal immediately when we first ask him for healing, because he has other things he is doing in and through our lives, or in others’ lives, such as the purpose for his delay in healing his friend Lazarus, which was so when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the people would believe that God the Father had sent Jesus – that he was the Christ. Sometimes he is using times of affliction in our lives to grow us in our faith, to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and so we know that when he works through us that it is obvious that it is only in his power and not in our own flesh that his work is accomplished, and thus he is the only one who gets the glory. Amen! Sometimes it is to keep us humble, too. The story of Paul’s thorn in the flesh is a primary example of this. Paul pleaded three times for the “thorn” to be removed, which he described as a messenger of Satan given to him to torment him in order that he would not become conceited. Jesus’ response to him was to tell him that God’s grace was sufficient for him, and that God’s/Christ’s power was perfected in Paul’s weakness (2 Co. 12:7-10).
God allows his children to suffer affliction for multiple reasons, one of which is so we can comfort others who are going through like suffering with the comfort we received from God when we were afflicted (2 Co. 1:3-11). Another is that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Ro. 5:3-4). When we share in Christ’s sufferings, we are becoming like him in his death. Suffering tests our faith, so that the testing of our faith might produce steadfastness in us, and so we might become mature and complete, lacking in nothing (Jas. 1:2-4). Sometimes God afflicts us in order to discipline us, so that we may share His holiness. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:3-12). So, sometimes affliction is what we need.
Occasionally, though, it can take just as great, or even greater faith to trust the Lord when he doesn’t heal, or when healing is delayed, than it takes to trust him for healing (Paul’s thorn, for example). It teaches us complete dependency on the Lord, as we must rely totally on him just to make it through each day, moment by moment. There have been many times when I had a pounding headache, but I knew the Lord was telling me he wanted me to write, so totally on faith I sat down at the computer and trusted in him to lead me as to what he wanted me to say, and it was only after I finished writing, or while the writing was in process that the healing came. Satan likes to try to discourage me from doing the work the Lord has called me to, and he would like nothing more than for me to cave to the headaches or other pain, when it comes, so that I don’t do what I know I am supposed to do. So, it takes great faith to go against the pain and to trust God with the pain, and to believe him to give me the strength to keep going. Many times when I have had bad headaches I have been tempted to take drugs, and I have resisted out of obedience to my Lord, and have trusted in the Lord for healing even when it did not quickly come.
So, whether we believe God for healing, or we believe him and trust him for the strength to see us through those times when healing does not come, or when it does not come quickly, our lives should be surrendered to him, committed to walks of obedience, and daily we should die to self and sin, confessing when we do sin, in all humility of spirit out of love for God and love for others. He may not always heal us physically, but he will always heal our hearts, as he teaches us each day to trust him more and more with our lives. Healing can also come through death, as we are delivered from our earthly suffering once and for all.
Near the Cross / Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.