I remember hearing the story of the paralyzed man in Sunday school, and even as a small child I instantly understood the power of Jesus and was in awe. But I was as perplexed then as I am now, about the ‘selection process’ of healing.
Was this man healed because he was special? Was it because his friends were so eager, or did their spectacular entrance simply catch Jesus’ eye?
Almost 20 years later I still ask these questions, only in adult form. Were they healed because they had more faith? Does Jesus care more for removing physical illness rather than mental illness? Should we really attribute healing to the power of God or is it really just good medicine?
Regardless of these seemingly disbelieving questions, I know that Jesus heals.
The reason that this truth has been made so clear to me is because of a situation very close to my heart. My Dad has Alzheimers.
My family found out when I was 22, although truthfully we knew something had been wrong for years. That day, my world tilted off its axis, and I felt as though the natural order of my life had been disrupted. The chats, advice, dependence and presence of the best man in my world were slowly slipping away.
But I soon learned, as I believe we all do at some point, that we are all part of a narrative that is much, much bigger than ourselves.
Throughout my Dad’s whole life he had no interest in God. He didn’t want to know a thing about Him. He was quite content to be without Him and no one dared to even mention church. Now, even on those days he can’t tell family from strangers, my Dad says his prayers every night and goes to church every Sunday: a stark contrast from his pre-dementia days.
These are all decisions he made himself. In the midst of extreme confusion and anguish, the very present Jesus healed my Dad. While I miss him and everything he was to us, I would not trade his salvation for any instant comfort. Like my Dad, we are all heading in the direction of ‘home’, and on the way we should rejoice with our brothers and sisters who know the healing powers of our God and stand by those who are still struggling.
In Luke 5, before any physical act, Jesus declares that the paralyzed man’s “sins are forgiven”. It is this verse that cuts straight to the heart of the God narrative: that faith in Jesus, no matter what spots you carry, leads to forgiveness. And forgiveness has no boundaries. The power of Jesus is such that it can catch the heart of any man, woman or child no matter who they are or what they have done.
I admittedly have always been skeptical about healing. It is only in the last year or so that this has changed. I have learned that it is so important that the people of God have faith in a God who heals today and is as present through illness as He was in these two passages.
He is in our hospital wards, our care homes and He walks beside those of us who struggle with different anxieties and depression. As well as being the greatest physician, He is the greatest empathiser and cries with those of his people struggling with illness; those of His people trapped between the ills of a fallen world and a world yet to come.
In a conversation recently, I heard someone refer to death as the ultimate healing. This may not be an appropriate way to describe it to those we love who are struggling with their health and wellbeing, but the absolute truth is that one day He will come again and call us home to a place where pain and suffering are not in our vocabulary.
If you are struggling with any mental or physical illness at this time, I pray that despite what you are facing, you won’t be disheartened. I pray that you will know the healing powers of Jesus, whatever that looks like for you.