Healing Over Time
Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.
Jeremiah 33:6 (NKJV)
Don't live frustrated because your areas of spiritual growth haven't encompassed all that you need to be liberated from.
Don't lose the determination to keep believing and trying and studying and praying simply because there are still areas in your life that are frustrating and limiting, restricting and deflating.
Accept where you are. Own where you are. Confess that while there may be many areas in your life where knowing Jesus has helped to sort and straighten things out, there are other areas that have not yet been healed. There are things you are still dealing with.
Even while you may have deep belief and faith in Christ, accept where you are in your journey to wholeness and wellness and spiritual health.
At times, the celebration in life is not in having reached completion, but simply having made significant progress. You may not be completely where you ought to be, but you’re further along than you’ve been. You may not be feeling like you had hoped you would feel, but you’re feeling better than you previously felt. Everything may not be working in perfect harmony and symmetry, but there's not as much chaos as there used to be. You may not be over the struggle and strangeness of a particular season, but you’re not as fearful as you used to be while walking through it.
Everything is not always healed at the same time. Healing is being dispensed at various intervals. Some of it you get in the beginning. Some of it you get as you take subsequent steps. Some of it will come at the end.
Accept where you are, and ask God to continue to move you forward.
Dependence on God
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
Matthew 17:21 (NKJV)
The kind of power that is released from your faith only comes from disciplines that make you dependent on God. I’m talking about prayer and fasting. These are surrendering disciplines. They reveal how dependent you are on Christ. You must come to a firm and fixed understanding that overcoming the difficulties in life doesn’t just happen because you are close to Jesus or because you love Him.
The overcoming is only going to happen when you depend on Him to give you power to make changes in your life. In order for you to embrace wholeness, you are going to need Him to release power.
Don't confuse closeness with dependence. Dependence on God is where the transfer of spiritual power comes from. Closeness can give us reminders of God’s power, but dependence gives us access to it. Closeness to God gives us proximity, and allows us to see the examples and to learn the disciplines, but only dependence on God gives access to the release of spiritual power. Only dependence on God releases His strength in our human weakness. Only dependence on God keeps us from becoming conceited. Only dependence on God keeps us living convicted that His grace is sufficient.
Don't become excessively comfortable because you wake up close to God or because you love to read about His character or because you enjoy talking about His goodness and His grace. Don't become comfortable just because you have some trinkets and treasures that point to His bounty in your life.
All of that is great. But when realities are trying to toss you into peril and throw you into danger and force pain upon your life, then you need dependence on God that makes you run to where the real power is.
The portals that God has opened up for you to access that power are prayer and fasting, in which you have surrendered to the might and majesty of God.
It's through prayer and fasting that you can suppress your strength and your drives and your passions and your intentions, making them obedient to God’s will. That’s where the power is.
We All Need Help
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
Mark 2:5 (NKJV)
Mark 2 tells the story of a paralyzed man that had to be carried by four of his friends to the place where Jesus was so that the man could be healed. Upon arriving at the house where Jesus was teaching, they found that it was packed with people. With persistence and determination, this man’s four friends lowered him through a hole in the roof in order to get the attention of Jesus.
When Jesus sees this, He discerns the faith that inspired it. The text says that Jesus saw “their” faith, which has to include the faith of not only the paralytic man but the four friends who consented to help.
And because of the weighted presence of this much faith, Jesus teaches the power of one’s spiritual condition and the impact it can have on one’s total health and wellbeing. Notice that Jesus doesn’t address the man’s paralysis first. He instead addresses the man’s spiritual condition. Jesus sees that the man is more restricted by the confining weight of his sin than he is by his paralysis.
So Jesus does not say, “Be healed and rise.” He says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then, after his spiritual condition is addressed, Jesus sees to his physical condition.
It’s amazing to me the maturity and depth Jesus wants our faith to possess—the tenacity and imagination, the determination and focused effort, the deep trust and abiding belief that our faith should possess. He wants us to have a faith that amazes Him, a faith that can inspire Him and others, a faith that can be challenged and corrected. But in this text, Jesus teaches that we also have to accept that we live with a faith that needs help.
Our faith is personal, no doubt, but is often pushed and sometimes carried by the help of others who are working to bring us into the presence of Jesus.
This text is not just about Jesus’ power to heal, nor is it only about these friends having faith to push and persevere, but it is also about a man’s faith needing to trust his friends to help him—and to trust God enough to know what He can’t do on his own. He demonstrates a faith that needs help.
How does your faith need help today? And on the opposite side of the coin, are you helping others by presenting them to Jesus in prayer?
A Faith That Can Be Rebuked
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
Matthew 17:17 (NKJV)
After descending the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus is confronted by a scene in which a boy is possessed by a demon that His disciples had tried to cast out. Their attempts were unsuccessful and the boy’s father pleads with Jesus to help because the boy is suffering.
Unlike other conversations that Jesus had in the Gospels, this time Jesus doesn't commend what faith is present in those gathered. He doesn’t express the impression that their faith motivates Him to speak or act. He doesn't challenge their faith or invite them to expand or stretch their faith.
No, in this instance, He rebukes the faith of those who are gathered there.
What I mean by rebuke is not that He shuns it or that He dismisses it, but that He strongly corrects it.
Jesus essentially tells them, “What a generation this is: no real sense of God—no focus to your lives. How many times do I have to go over these things with you? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring that boy to me. And after all that I sought to teach and the faith I’ve invited you to live with, this is what you have to give Me? Attempts based on your own strength? You are using only the outer edges of My messages and demonstrations, and all the while, you are missing the inner power that really makes things happen. You’ve had proximity and access, but still haven’t discerned what really drives the mission or creates the miracles. Bring the boy to Me.”
My friend, your faith has to be more than just commended and inspired and challenged in order to grow. If you want your faith to mature and have a truly life-changing impact, both for your own life and for the lives of those around you, you have to possess a faith that Jesus can rebuke.
The rebuke Jesus gives is because He wants your faith to step up to the level of more than presence and potential, but at the level of power.
Do you have a faith that can withstand Jesus’s rebuke?
His Compassions Fail Not
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
Lamentations 3:22 (NKJV)
The Gospel of Matthew gives us a good picture of how Jesus spent much of His time during His years of ministry. In chapter 15, verses 29-32, we read,
“Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’”
We could go on to read how Jesus provided for them by feeding them with miracle food that He multiplied from very little. But today I want to stop here and focus on Jesus’s motivation for doing these things. He said, “I have compassion for these people.”
It's not a time issue. It's not a supply issue. It's not a logistics issue. It's not an issue of duty or demand. It’s a compassion issue. He really does have a heart for the people. And guess what? He has a heart for you as well.
The Lord really does care about what concerns us. His compassion is stirred by your plight today—and this compassion moves Him to action.
Be encouraged by the fact that because of the Lord’s mercies you will not be consumed, because He has compassion for you.