About two months ago my left shoulder started hurting. I have no idea what I did to it. About the time I started thinking that it wasn’t getting better on its own and I might need to see a medical professional, Marie got sick. I spent a few weeks carting Marie around because she could not stand upright. We used a wheeled hassock as transport, but I had to push or pull and lift the little caster wheels over the strips that join carpeting to tile or tile to wood. That didn’t help any. By the time Marie was better my arm was a wreck. We again thought about seeing a doctor, but finances were a problem.
This morning it hurt so bad I almost didn’t go to church. The pain ran from my left ear to my left elbow to my left shoulder blade. It was not a sharp pain or a burning, but a battered, bruised feeling like some invisible possum-devil has been beating me with a ball bat. But it would hurt just as much at home as it will at church, so I decided to go to church. If I didn’t I’d miss out on something because every lesson Pastor Dan gives teaches me something wonderful.
I sat in the pew fidgeting and shifting because I hurt. This morning our Pastor led us in a prayer for healing. Several people are dealing with major problems.
My reaction to “faith healing” has historically been one of skepticism. I’ve read the stories about sudden cancer remission and wondered. I’ve seen televangelists who had people leaping from their wheelchairs to run the aisle and I’d roll my eyes and think, “Yeah, right: that person was probably a plant like in a magic show or a mind reader performance”. But deep inside I do believe that God can heal. I believe that prayer can be powerful when offered through a clean heart. So as we went into this I shoved my skepticism aside, clung to the belief, and held up my shoulder (figuratively speaking) to God with a request for healing. The pastor referenced 1 Peter 2:24 (who was quoting from Isaiah 53:4-5)
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
As we were praying, my side started tingling and the pain just faded away!
I was not certain at first whether to believe it — but I had just committed to doing just that. James (as in the book of) says to pray for something you must do so believing that it has already been done, for a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways and cannot expect to get anything from God. I had been double-minded for a long time: wanting to believe, but skeptical at the same time. Wanting proof before I could believe fully. But demanding proof countermands faith. A year ago, maybe a little more, I decided to live by faith. I needed to stand by that decision now.
I pushed my questioning aside, accepted the healing, believed it to be true. Dan (our pastor, not a book) said “Hold on to it, do not give it up for the enemy will steal it away if you let him.” Afterward he went on into his sermon.
I should say that this is not a Pentecostal church. No one stood up and shouted “Praise Jesus: I’m healed” although I really wanted to.
I sat there, enjoying the absence of a pain that had plagued me for two months and wondering if I dared move my arm.
I must believe. I wiggled it around a bit: no twinges, no stabs, no fresh whacks with that demonic ball bat. “This is excellent!” I thought.
Pastor Dan was moving on, I turned my attention to taking notes. I had laid my pen aside earlier. I reached over and grabbed the pen… with my left arm. That should have had me gasping in pain. Nothing!
I bathed four dogs, using both arms (that was after we got home, not at church). I was fine.
I did something I shouldn’t have that evening and ‘whack!’ that hurt for a bit. I backed off and the pain went away. There are limits. I should have known that: I’d seen this before. We, as a church, had prayed once specifically for my wife: Marie while she was so sick.
When I left her to go to church that morning she was barely able to get from the bed to the bathroom, and would vomit when she got there. She promised to stay in bed until I got back home. When I got home, she was dressed, sitting on the sofa and said she felt much better. She went out on the porch had me cut her hair, walked around in the house. Started thinking about going back to work on Monday. She did some house work… that was too much. She set herself back for a time.
Why aren’t our experiences like the ten lepers who were cleansed or the man whose withered arm was restored or the woman whose issue of blood was cured by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment? Maybe my faith is not be as strong as it should be yet. Maybe it’s because I did not announce my gift when I received it. Maybe I lost focus too soon, took it for granted and the enemy crept back is as Dan had warned. I don’t have that answer. Not yet. What I do know is that while my range of motion is limited, I am sitting here, pain free and using both arms to type. I could not have done this yesterday. I experienced healing today, of that much I am certain.