Announcements: This Monday night, 7pm huddle reunion on Zoom. If you want to be a part of that, shoot me an email or a text or even a facebook/instagram direct message would probably work. I’ll fill you in.
Also, LoveFirst Coast exists to invite, encourage, and equip people for life on mission. We believe that part of God’s mission is reconciliation. There’s a great need for reconciliation in our world today, probably most obviously along racial, generational, and political lines. If you are engaging in the work of reconciliation wherever you are, I just want you to know we are on your side. If we can encourage you and pray for you, we’d be honored.
Last week we posted the question – do you want to be healed? If you are recognizing the brokenness, the wounds, the ailments in your own you life, last week was just an encouragement to say, “Yes, I want to be healed.” And to seek it.
This week, the question is a little different – are you willing to be a healer?
Psalm 103-1-3 Bless the Lord, oh my soul, all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives your sins and heals you diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
The Psalmist makes it clear – Our God is a forgiving God. Our God is a healing God. He heals your diseases. And healing is leading us toward thriving! – Forgiveness. Healing. Thriving.
But what is healing, anyway?
Healing is actually about setting things to the way they are supposed to be.
Physical healing is what gets all the press. When the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the cancer is cured, when the virus is no longer a source of illness – all that is physical healing.
But physical healing is only one aspect of healing.
Many people need relational healing. I have observed that people who are in “sick” relationships, broken relationships often suffer physically, too. While obviously someone hurting another person can lead to physical injury – Living in a prolonged way with unresolved anger, or worry, or fear of another person can actually lead to physical problems, physical illnesses. Reconciliation feels good for a reason, because it’s a step toward healing.
Many people need emotional healing. We can carry emotional wounds for years. Experiences of loss, or trauma, or abuse, can leave us emotionally wounded, looking for ways to cope, limping along. And these things start to interact, right? For example, we might ease the pain by coping in some unhealthy ways and find ourselves addicted. Grief over a loss can make it hard to engage a healthy way in our relationships. We might withdraw – we might try to control people – and then our relationships get sick, too. And it can show up physically. For what it’s worth, I’ve had a powerful experience with emotional healing. And boy, did it ever help me to forgive myself, to forgive others, and it helped me connect better. And I felt better!
And of course, there’s also a need for healing in our relationship with God. Psalm 103 connects forgiveness of sin with healing and thriving. Sin leads to brokenness with ourselves and our relationships. Forgiveness from God is often the first step toward other forms of healing.
And get this: God is the healer. God invites us into that work.
Some people enter healing professions directly. Physicians, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, nutritionists, trainers. I am so grateful for these folks. I am so grateful to count some as friends. I am grateful for the work healing professionals do. If you need healing, be sure to seek their help!
But what I’m asking today is this: Healing professional or otherwise – Do you want to be a part of God’s work of healing? Do you want to bring healing to the wounded, hurting, grieving, ailing people around you? I Peter 2:9 says we are, through Christ, a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’ special possession – called to declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into a his marvelous light.” Chosen by God to be a royal priesthood – a priest is an intermediary between God and people. A priestly ministry is a ministry of representation: We are called to represent God to this hurting and broken world. That work definitely extends to healing. Your call to follow Jesus is a call into healing.
Maybe you are thinking – wait, what? Me? A healer? Like those guys on TV who make it such a big show? Well no definitely not like those guys. Healing should never be a shown. When Jesus healed, he often moved people to a more private setting. That’s because when Jesus healed, he was acting in love. Love doesn’t make a scene at someone else’s expense. But yes you and I – we are called into healing. Does that raise in reluctance? If so, you can identify with a guy named Ananias who we read about in Acts 9. He was a reluctant healer.
Acts 9:10, a guy named Ananias hears the Lord’s voice. [Read 10-14.]
A little background. This guy “Saul of Tarsus” had been terrorizing the early church, violently disrupting people’s lives, arresting them, throwing them in jail for following Jesus. Saul had participated in murders. Ananias was not eager to go do this act of healing. He had reservations, which he mentions to the Lord. [Read 13-14].
Can you relate? Let me just suggest that the Lord calls his people, all of his people, to be about his healing work. That might be an easy step for you – but it might be a hard one. You may have to make some major adjustments like Ananias did.
But the Lord says: [15-16]
So he goes to the house. And listen to his words.
Brother Saul… he begins by acknowledging love for someone who had been an enemy. Jesus changes our relationships with our enemies.
Do you have any enemies? Any person, or maybe group of people you despise? If Jesus sent you to them, would you go? Would you greet them as brother or sister?
He took the time to explain.
And then he lovingly prayed.
I want to draw your attention to two forms of healing.
First – the prayer was for Spiritual healing. To be filled with the Spirit. To have God himself living within him. The physical healing followed.
And two other forms of healing began. He would always remember the guilt of having terrorized God’s people. But it became a testimony about the greatness of God’s forgiveness. And – he began to enter into a loving relationship with the very people he had once hated.
He was healed spiritually. He was healed physically. He was healed emotionally. He was healed relationally. And Saul of Tarsus would become Paul the Apostle, the writer of half the New Testament. Ananias got to be a part of that.
Today, I’m just going to leave you with this question and a thought:
First the question: Do you want to be a part of healing? Are you willing to overcome reluctance to be a part of God’s work of healing. You know, I suspect that if Ananias had refused, God would have taken care of Saul some other way. But what a privilege to be a part of that legacy!
And now the thought: Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, a sixteenth-century Spanish explorer, was the only survivor of a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico, and he was washed ashore on the Texas coast. A Gulf Coast tribe of Native Americans found Nunez and adopted him. (Actually, they enslaved him). But he decided to love them. They were a sad lot, victims of drought and famine, and many of them diseased. Nunez reported that he had nothing to give them, no scientific knowledge and no medicine. All he had was himself and prayer. But to his amazement, in giving them this loving, faithful touch, Nunez began to see the tribe healed. This is what he said. “Truly it was to our amazement that the ailing said they were well. Being Europeans, we thought we had given away to our doctors and priests our ability to heal. But here it was. It was ours after all; we were more than we thought we were.” (There’s A Lot More To Health Than Not Being Sick, Bruce Larson, Word Books, 1981, p18)
Is that true for you, too? Do you know, you and I, we are probably more than we think we are.
Next week, I’m going to wrap up this little series on healing with some practical steps.