I Wound and I Heal

Today several of you gently noted that it’s prayer blogging day, and I skipped last week. My apologies. I have not fallen off the band wagon. Rather, I rode it to the Midwest last Monday.

While there, I attended a lecture by Teddie Potter, a nurse who told us the story of her trip to the Bushmen healers of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia.

If you’ve seen The Gods Must Be Crazy, you’ve met the Bushmen. If you haven’t, I’d say put it in your Netflix queue except that as a missionary kid from that part of Africa, I can’t imagine you’d laugh as hard as I did.

Bushmen understand healing in this way: We have needles of God’s love in our bellies. When we harbor bad feelings, we dirty God’s needles. Healers sense the soiled needles through shaking. Dancing and singing open the community to God’s love, which boils the needles clean. During the dance, healers give community members God’s love, which is so strong it can knock you down.

On her first day, Potter sat down in front of the healers, who patted her tummy before one of them tap-tapped her hand up to a tender spot under Potter’s right arm. A couple of taps later, the biopsy wound knit and she hasn’t felt pain since.

That night during the dance, a healer brought Potter God’s love and she collapsed under it. To become a “real” healer, they corrected, Potter must literally stand (up under) God’s love.

Here’s the first question my dad will ask if he reads this story (he’s actually back in Angola right now, doing surgery the western way): “Is Potter’s healing through Jesus or is it counterfeit?”

I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. Sometimes, God’s love feels like needles in my belly. Other times I can’t stand it. The Spirit gets on me and it’s almost too much. In my redemption, I’m healed, but I’m not a hundred percent yet. Nowhere close. I’m too weak for wholeness.

In Healing: Sign of the Kingdom, Howard Ervin says that whole-making is two things: For unbelievers, it is a sign of the kingdom of God in Christ, a physical representation of salvation (Matt 4:23). It’s always accompanied by the words of Good News and by discipleship (Rom 15:18–19).

But where some scholars argue that the gift of healing refers to a supernatural ability to be a heal-er, Ervin says that for believers, healing is simply a grant of wholeness to those children God chooses to free from disease (1 Cor 12:8–11).

Why doesn’t he heal all of his faithful followers (1 John 3:21–22)?

Scott Hafemann puts it down to God’s glory. Where people do not know God, “immediate miraculous deliverance” introduces his power and love. Like Ervin’s sign to unbelievers, IMD witnesses to God’s character so that people can begin to know him and worship him.

Where people already call themselves by his name, God permits his family’s “endurance of faith” to introduce him to outsiders. He is worth knowing, our friends must conclude, if his own people stick with him even when their requests for healing are denied. Even when his love boils the needles clean, but leaves them in our bellies.

So, should we bother to beg healing if our God bruises as well as binds up (Job 5:18)?

James 5:14–15 says yes.

What do you say? Do you have hope for healing? Do you pray for it?

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