Embracing Mystery

I was sharing with our students the other day on the topic of healing. I love sharing about this topic because it is something I care about personally. I have some experience with praying for healing and I have some stories of God at work in healing. It is both exciting and incredibly challenging. 

Exciting because there is nothing like seeing someone’s life turned around because God has removed an illness, removed pain or healed something significant as the result of healing prayer.

Challenging because we all have personal experience of sickness and the need for healing. We have watched loved ones suffer and perhaps even die, despite our best prayers. Talking about healing brings up a whole heap of emotions, questions and bio-reactions. People care about this topic. I thought I would share an observation about pursuing healing today.

When I teach on healing and how God wants to heal and how we are called to pray for the sick just like the original disciples I can sense the question hanging in the air. The question I always get asked. “So why are some people not healed?” or perhaps even “What do we do when someone is not healed?”.

Most the time this question is loaded with emotion more than intellect. In responding to this question I usually prefer to be vague! Not because I don’t think there are biblical examples I can site for why healing might not happen but because most the time they are unhelpful in answering the heart behind the question.

One thing I have realised about pursuing healing is we need to accept up front that we have to be OK living in tension and mystery. I have seen that when we try to avoid tension and mystery we tend to rationalise and create our own personal theologies around things that the bible is silent on. There needs to be a place within the Christian Faith to say “I don’t know”. I would suggest there are things we definitely do know because they are revealed in the bible but where it is silent we must be silent also. For example, I believe the bible is clear that God wants people well. So I must not, in the absence of answered prayer, conclude God desires people to be sick. I do however have to recognise I often don’t know why.

By recognising we live in tension, the tension of the now and the not yet, we realise that at times it will be awkward, at times we won’t know. At times we will fail to walk in the power we long to.

I really don’t like mystery. I like to know why! I like to problem solve. I think most people are like me in this regard. I am learning what it is to embrace mystery though. I don’t always know why people are not healed. One thing I do know for certain is there is a whole spiritual dimension that surrounds every event and prayer. Most of the time I am completely oblivious to it. Not to mention the complexity of the natural world we live in.

I am starting to wonder if mystery is really just an invitation. When we find mystery, perhaps God is inviting us closer?

Whatever it’s purpose, my trust is in the character and nature of God. He is good and he seems OK with me not knowing everything.  The simple truth is if we are to really worship a God who is bigger than us and smarter than us we are going to have to learn to embrace mystery.

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