Suffering and the right to be healed

Below is a fantastic quote from the free chapter of Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, A Place of Healing. I have three of my own comments inserted in there between brackets [] and in italic where there are similarities.

I wish everyone who was determined to get someone healed or think it’s their loved one’s right to be healed because they’re a ‘good’ Christian would read this. I’ve been very blessed in that I haven’t been in a position where people have told me I don’t have enough faith or say that I must be doing something wrong or not claiming God’s promises. My blogging friends have also been great. But I do get the feeling that many people think it’s just wrong for people to suffer chronically, especially with more than one condition as I do (and she is now also dealing with cancer in addition to paralysis, fatigue and chronic pain), and if they just pray long enough and hard enough, or give the right advice, that amazing healing and happiness and success is just around the corner.

We believe that God can use healing and/or suffering to glorify himself and change us into his image. In addition to praying for outright healing, which we know God will do for his people in his own timing, in this life or at the end, please don’t do people a disservice by not praying for spiritual growth of all kinds. We can find this in prayers in the Bible and know that this is God’s will for everyone. Sticking with them over time is much more difficult and rewarding than praying for them once, finding them not healed and just end up disappointed. Pray for coping, provision and endurance. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in their spiritual growth by leaving this out.

Continuing to mature through trials gives us hope as God changes our character. (Romans 5:3-4)

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and services were over. I was wheeling across the church parking lot toward my van when a handsome young man, who introduced himself as David, stopped me.

“Are you Joni?” he asked.

I smiled, nodding yes.

“Oh great!” David exclaimed. “I’m a visitor here, and I was hoping I would run into you today. I’ve really been praying for you.”

My eyes got wide. “Really? What about?”

“Your healing. I’ve been praying for you to get out of your wheelchair.”

At that point, my spirit hesitated. David was a visitor. He came to church hoping to see me, and he wanted to see me healed. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met over the years who’ve done the same thing. In churches, on street corners, in convention centers, and in busy shopping malls. Some of those encounters have been a little overwhelming-almost frightening.

But not on this day, with this young man.

Still, I had to fight off eerie feelings. Several times, years ago, a group of men showed up at our farmhouse door in Maryland, all having been led there by the Holy Spirit to either heal me … or marry me! So perhaps you can understand my reticence.

“Well, I never refuse a prayer for healing,” I assured David. [I sincerely say the exact same thing.]

This guy wasted no time in getting down to business, launching into what sounded like a prepared speech. “Have you ever considered that it might be sin standing in the way of your healing? That you’ve disobeyed in some way?” Before I could answer, David flipped open his Bible-both of us still in the middle of the parking lot and read from the gospel of Luke, “Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus” (Luke 5:18-19).

He closed his Bible and reminded me that the paralyzed man in the story was healed. And I could be, too, if only I would but confess my sins and have faith to believe. He added, “Joni, there must be some sin in your life that you haven’t dealt with yet.”

I told him that my conscience was clean before the Lord (he looked a little skeptical about that) and reiterated that I always welcome prayers for healing. I thanked him for his concern but told him I didn’t think this was a matter of faith.

For David, that just didn’t add up. According to what he had been taught, if I was a Christian, and if there was no known sin in my life, and if I had faith that God could heal, well, then … I would be healed. Didn’t God want everyone healed? Didn’t Jesus want everyone well? Of course He did! It was so obvious!

“Joni, you must have a lack of faith. I mean, look at you. You’re still in your wheelchair!”

I thought for a moment about the biblical account he had just read me and asked him to open up his Bible again to that same passage, Luke 5. “Okay,” I said, “you’re right about one thing, David. Right after they lowered the paralyzed man through the roof and to the floor in front of Jesus, he was healed. But look at verse 20. It says that when Jesus saw the faith of those four friends, the man was made well.”


“Don’t you see? He didn’t require anything at all of the disabled man. What He was looking for was faith in those men who had lowered him through the roof. God doesn’t require my faith for healing. But He could require yours. The pressure’s off me, David. If God has it in His plan to lift me out of this wheelchair, He could use your faith! So keep believing, friend; the pressure’s on you!” [I also rely on others to have faith for me.]

David didn’t like that point of view. Again, it wasn’t according to his script. It wasn’t what he had been taught. According to all his teachers, if a person wasn’t healed, it had to be a problem with him, with his faith.

Faith, however, is not the focus.

The focus is always on Jesus Christ and His will for those who suffer. [God has been teaching me this more and more which is very difficult to explain to some people.] To possess great faith is to believe in a great Savior, and Scripture welcomes the faith of anyone who believes in Jesus’ will to heal. In the days to come, that “anyone” could well be David.

5 Responses to “Suffering and the right to be healed”

  1. 1 Eric

    Great post and quote from Joni. She’s one my heroes. I was fortunate enough to meet her once at a book signing. What a profound experience – the peace of God around her was palpable. The issue of not being healed is such a difficult subject, one I think we have to handle carefully and humbly. One thing I’ve come to believe after much searching is being healed or not does not depend on your faith and isn’t an indication of God’s love (or lack of love) for you. It simply isn’t about that. What it IS about exactly, I’m not sure and I’m still learning, but it isn’t a reflection of His love for me or my degree of faith.

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks. That would be nice to meet her. I think she’s very different than how I perceived her for a long time. I basically know her story and have heard her on the radio although I must have read one of her books a long time ago.

    ‘Carefully and humbly’ sounds like good advice all around.

  3. 3 Craig Bennett

    I have used the same expression myself towards others who have told me to have faith and I will be healed. 🙂 They also have been upset with me for telling them off… in a nice way of course.

    It’s interesting you have written about this, I wrote a post on “I cried out for healing” last night… I truly believe that there are gifts of healings and to say that Joni isn’t healed is just wrong.

    A friend posted on facebook about an experience at church on Sunday where a man with cerebral palsy or other…prayed “that everyone would be as happy as I am. That those who are healthy could be happy also inside”

    So I live in the tension of indeed praying for all who need healing, that the Lord will heal them…yet also knowing that its the Lord who hears and answers our prayers in many ways.

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    I like to find ways of “telling people off” to get them off my back although I hardly ever need to. I guess it’s the “advice” I need to ward off more than anything.

    What an excellent post of yours! I’ll have to mention that here. That really opened up my eyes. God is our healer. I’m always harping on how people ignore the spiritual aspect of my suffering and others, and here I haven’t really even thought of it in this way. I need to repent as much as anyone.

    Sometimes I wonder, if depression weren’t such a big part of my problems if I could be happier in my suffering. I certainly am joyful–moreso now than ever and also so much more thankful for things. I can’t say I’m happy. But I never am anyway. I call it an ‘opportunity’ that many others don’t have. Not that I’m so special. Without it, I’m certain God wouldn’t have matured me as he has done. When it’s at its worst, I hate it. When it’s at baseline or better, I can very much appreciate it. I hope to see it more and more as a gift.

    Thank you so much for the comment and post. I really need it, especially today which is a bad one.

  5. 5 Craig Bennett

    Hi Jeff.. we are fellow travellers in Christ. I’m sorry to hear of your depression and struggles in that area. I too struggle at times with it and its not an easy journey.

    Paul says to weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh…and at all times to encourage one-another. When in pain or in the midst of suffering its hard to be joyful.

    One of the distinctions that I found helpful was recognising that Paul teaches us to be joyful / thankful within all circumstances and not that we have to be joyful /thankful for all circumstance…which means I can be thankful in Christ within all circumstances, despite the circumstances.

    I’s this what they mean by circumstantial circumstances 😉

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