Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Healing isn't just something God does, but flows from who He is and the original justice that He desires to renew in the world. Pioneers in healing ministry have developed apologetics about the theology of healing, but nothing challenges people more than the mystery of when healing doesn't seem to manifest. There are many theological and intellectually attractive reasons why this might be - from unforgiveness and unrepented sin to various kinds of trauma, but it still leaves us less than the standard Jesus set and modeled in His ministry.
Often we hold on to these reasons to deflect our discouragement, and rationalize rather than repent for falling short of the glory of God. In doing so, we can also project blame and the burden of responsibility on the person in need of the healing - which can further disconnect them from God. St. John Vianney said that “God is always almighty. He can at all times work miracles and He would work them now as in the days of old were it not that faith is wanting.”
In the face of the lack of healing, it's common to ask God for “more” faith, rather than to use the faith that we have in whatever size or measure (Mt 17:20). It's interesting to note that He responds in every instance by challenging the way faith is understood, or confronting where it is focused (Lk 8:25), rather than simply infusing more faith (as if size matters). Faith, you might say, is the substance of ALL that I believe in my heart - and not all that I believe is true or good! We are often more aware of our weakness and doubt, especially in the face of sickness and infirmity. You see, healing ministry is not just for the other in need but also for us – as an invitation into a transformative process of faith refinement and mind renewal (Rom 12:2).
When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do" (Jas 1:6-8)
Jesus rebukes His own disciples - "O faithless and perverse generation!" (Mt 17:17), after failing to exercise the authority He gave them to heal every infirmity (Lk 9:1). A secret to breakthrough, and the biggest obstacles to healing is in those two words, “faithless” and “perverse” - which are like guideposts to direct our process.
FAITHLESS [apistos], means to be unbelieving, without trust in God, and incredulous, doubtful, and skeptical of things. This is the turning away from faith, the willful refusal to believe that Thomas experienced, overcome by his grief in the death of Jesus. How I FEEL about an infirmity or healing reveals what I actually believe about it. When I am intimidated by the sickness, my lack of faith in God’s insurmountable power and ability is exposed. When I am hesitant to step out, fear reveals impure faith - and faith in the wrong kingdom. Rather than ask for more faith, the Holy Spirit is more than willing to reveal the truth He wants us to walk in, persuading our hearts in the specific place the unbelief dwells. Only then are the imperfections of our faith purified, like gold refined in the fire (1 Pet 1:7).
PERVERSE [diastrephō], means to distort, turn aside, or to oppose (with rationalizations) the saving purposes and plans of God. This word exposes the secret intentions of the heart, which often can be seemingly good. These impure intentions resist the Spirit of God. Some examples in healing ministry can be when we seek a healing to “add” to God’s already full and complete glory, or to add another notch in the belt of successful healings, or in the hidden desire to manipulate people’s belief and coerce them to convert. Or, in my insecurity as an orphan still transitioning into sonship, I can seek miracles to affirm my identity, or prove I'm approved by God and validate His love for me. There are so many subtle ways in which our minds need to be renewed and our intentions exposed, so that we may proclaim and demonstrate the goodness of God through healing in an incarnational way. The method is the message.
Holy Spirit, “See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps 139:24). Move me from striving to expectant faith, from contending to receptive trust. Expose the unbelief hiding in my creative prayers and theories, that I might walk more completely in the Finished Work of the Cross. Thank You Jesus, for it is always by Your stripes that we are healed.