The other day, God had the gall to invite me to pray for healing.
Don’t get me wrong, I could certainly use some.
I live every day in pain, wear elastic knee braces and special shoes to help prevent much more. I take at least eight pills on good days just to help me think straight. I’ve changed the way I write, the way I type, the way I sit, stand, and walk. I’ve changed career paths, involving years of retraining. I’m constantly vigilant about how my body is positioned, even when I lie down for sleep.
So yeah, some change for the better would be nice.
“But God, why now? Why not when I first had major problems and cried out for help nine years ago?”
“But you didn’t ask for help and healing,” Beloved God gently replies, “you asked for no more pain, you asked for death.”
It’s true, I did. And since then I’ve clawed my way back into a semblance of normality, physical and psychological. I’ve worked hard to manage my pain, to still be able to function without causing (too much) more, to even think straight.
And now this.
So what’s the problem? Don’t I know that God wants to heal, to lay out abundance and blessing for me?
To ask for healing of my body requires focusing on how broken, painful, and disabled it is, something I don’t enjoy doing. I’ve worked hard to get my management into habits, to make it automatic to walk a certain way, to behave a certain way, all carefully constructed over years of trial and error to best manage my well-being.
To stop and look directly at my pain, is to discount all these efforts as unnecessary.
When I was first faced with the diagnosis that said this pain was a permanent and irreparable condition, I struggled to see past it, to not wish for death instead of this life of unceasing pain. I’ve struggled for years to bring my mental health back from that brink, to find better ways to control my pain than self-harm or death-wishes. To be honest, I’m somewhat scared to look into that black maw again.
Yet God is asking me to. How can I deny anything to Beloved Divine?
To ask God for healing is to request a total shift in the way I live, to request that this life I have worked so hard to shape be torn down.
And I don’t know if I can belief anything would happen in response.
Can I ask without believing? Is that wrong?
I guess that asking is a way of being faithful, a step of obedience, a way to get used to asking for crazy things I don’t believe can or will happen.
Have I always been this cynical? I struggle to believe in miraculous healings at all, attributing them to what the body was doing anyway, or the power of belief changing the physical.
So what happens when I pray but don’t believe? Does that circumvent the prayer? Or would God still honour it because I am stepping out in obedience?
I have this thought in the back of my mind that this task is simply to grow my faithfulness and obedience more than to heal my body, leaving me with stronger faith, but just as much pain.
And how would I feel if I ask this and there is no healing? What would that do to my faith?
I have a small tendril of hope, that maybe God will do this, that maybe I can live life not shaped by pain, but I hesitate to trust it. If I look forward to a life without pain, what does that say for all my efforts to get to where I am, all the management I have tried and refined over the years just to be (mostly) functional? Was it all for naught if God can just say the (magic) word and it disappears?
I would rather God used that power to heal my daughter, or my husband, let them live free from chronic pain and its binds.
But hang on, that’s scarcity-thinking.
God doesn’t have a limited supply of healing power, God won’t run out. God is the All-Powerful, All-Sufficient, so why am I happy to say “heal them” but not “heal me”?
It’s not just a matter of putting others before myself. Is it a belief that God will do that for other people but not me? That God doesn’t work like that in my life?
Well why not?
When did God’s healing come to only mean healing of the heart and mind but not of the body?
I can readily believe that God can speed natural processes, or start them moving, but when something is labelled ‘permanent’, no way of healing, wired into my genetic code, there are no natural processes to use.
It’s supernatural or nothing.
So which do I choose?
I find myself in much the same place as when I started, willing to obey and ask, but not believing the miracle can will come. So maybe with my obedient prayers asking for healing, I will also ask for help with my unbelief.
Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)? I know God to be good, but I’ll keep waiting for the taste of physical healing. I know God can, it is whether God will that I question here.
And this is that verse that comes to mind: “Ask and keep on asking, and you will receive” (Luke 11:9 and Matthew 7:7). No mention of believing that you will be given, just the persistence to keep on asking.
God didn’t ask me to believe, Beloved Divine asked me to ask.