I’m at home a couple of weeks now and recuperating well. My daily walks are getting longer, I’m no longer chewing painkillers and I’m starting to feel better all round and growing increasingly thankful that this is behind me.
And I’m getting time to think about the journey, and here’s one question that occurs; how come God didn’t cure me? Prior to going to surgery I mean.
You see, I’m a pretty good guy. I’m blessed with a happy and contented family. I love my wife and have never strayed. I’m committed to my church and to my friends. I’m engaged in work which I believe to be spiritually significant. I take great joy in teaching the word of God. And many people were praying for me, some were even praying that I would experience miraculous cure.
So why didn’t it happen?
Let me also say this. I didn’t expect it to happen. And to be honest, I’m not even sure I wanted it to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m have no trouble believing God could have done it for me, none at all, I just wasn’t looking for it. Was this a failure of faith on my part?
I don’t think so. And now, having been through the experience of serious illness here are a few of my (admittedly incomplete) reflections at this early stage.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I think miraculous cure is extraordinarily rare and not the pattern. Looked at in the right way, the extraordinary skills and genius of surgeons and nursing staff is a privilege to behold and their work in bringing healing is miraculous. So right away I think a distinction needs to be made between cure and healing. Cure is limited and focused, confined to the symptoms of the illness, whereas healing is more rounded and complete. By all means pray for healing for me, but recognise it may not result in the making right of my particular illness.
Secondly, excessive focus on the work of God in miraculous healing is, at best, disrespectful to the work God does in and through the daily experiences of our lives. I think the desire for these miraculous cures may be an attempt to run from the true complexity and challenge of life, leading to a form of infantilism. There is value in facing the stuff that life throws at us, particularly when we can face these things in the company of God’s people. There are things to learn, there are ways to grow which will be forever closed to us if these obstacles in our way our removed. Remember Jesus prayer in the garden? ‘nevertheless, not my will but yours’.
Thirdly, having been through the journey, having climbed the mountain, I realise that God had valuable lessons to teach me and my family that we simply would never have learned if I had experienced miraculous healing. The prayers and support of family and friends have been a tremendous boost to us. Letters, texts, cards, visits, emails and calls have let us know that we are loved. I’m not sure that I have ever felt this as concretely as in recent weeks and it has been humbling and joyous. And at the risk of sounding sanctimonious…I think I can say now that I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.
Fourthly, these last weeks, watching my body react to the trauma of major surgery and seeing how it heals itself is to see a remarkable act of re-creation. The human body is truly a wonderful thing. Indeed, truly miraculous.