My interest in healing goes back a long way.
At a young age my father suffered a severe stroke that paralysed him, taking his speech which he never regained. At the time I believed that he could be healed, yet the church to which we belonged didn’t seem to offer much hope. I couldn’t understand this because I had heard so many stories from the Bible of Jesus healing people. I remember making a little notebook, copying out all the verses in the Bible I could find about healing and answered prayer.
“Ask anything in my Father’s name, and I will give it to you.”
“People came to him with their illnesses and diseases and Jesus healed them all.”
“Nothing is impossible with God.”
But I remember the minister telling me in a solemn voice that the Consultant’s prognosis was bleak. We were lucky that my father had survived the stroke. It was very unlikely he would recover his speech or use of limbs and we needed to come to terms with the fact that things would be very different from now on. We would have to adapt, and I would need to be strong for my Mum.
I remember feeling a terrible sadness inside, not just because of the doctor’s words, but more so the desolation that comes when hope is crushed. I felt isolated. Abandoned with my naïve faith.
The minister meant well. I could tell she thought I was in denial. She was waiting for some sign of acceptance from me.
Bible verses swam across my mind.
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.”
I didn’t want to look into that dark abyss. I didn’t want to face the reality of those long, long years of house-bound disability that were to stretch out in front of us. And I didn’t want to be told I must ‘accept’ this by a minister of religion.
“The will of God is a mystery to us.”
“We don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but we must trust that God can use our suffering to help us learn and grow.”
I was familiar with this theology. I’d heard it all before. But up to that point suffering had never really touched my life. Now it was happening to us I just couldn’t accept it.
Why should this happen? My father was a faithful Christian all his life, working full-time as a social worker trying to help others, and in his spare time heavily committed voluntarily to mission and outreach. We were already believers and didn’t need to be ‘brought to faith’ by some crisis.
I didn’t want to believe in a God that could’ allow’ or ‘will’ illness, disaster, disease, disability and all forms of suffering to teach us a lesson for our higher good.
That God would be a monster God.
Something inside protested. It was to stay deeply buried for many years.
But it started me on a search ….