About Me

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Healing power

Healing is one of those things that divides people. Can Christs power heal people today? Or did signs and wonders die out with the disciples?

This morning we had healing evangelist Craig Marsh come to speak at church. His story is quite amazing. After various stomach cancer diagnoses over the years, he had several ops, the final one removing basically all of his stomach. Eventually he was left at deaths door, given a week to live, just surviving on a cup of rice or half a banana every couple of days, eating was excrutiatingly painful.
He had been due to attend a conference but obviously was too ill and someone was standing in for him, but at the last minute he decided he wanted to go. it was his dying wish. This was of course totally impractical and everyone tried to persuade him out of it, but he was adamant. His wife and sons waved him off at the airport expecting him not to return, that's how ill he was.
However at the conference he was healed. The speaker had heard God talking to him on his flight over and during his speech he stopped and asked everyone to pray for Craig. Craig tells his story far better than I could, he is incredibly funny, but he describes how this was a Methodist conference some 15 years ago and he said the 'closet charismatics' crept quielty from their seats! But pray for him they did and the presence of God not only fell on him but the whole place as people wept and cried out to God. In that time he was totally healed, parts of him that had been removed, grew back (he later had scans to testify to this..) He descibed how he suddenly felt amazingly hungry, having not been able to eat properly for 4 years and stuffing himself with fried chicken and later McDonalds!!

Anyway, I love this story and others like it and I want to believe it 100%. But there is still a part of me that is skeptical. It's not that I don't believe God can heal people today, I totally believe that, but I guess it is the human, rational side of me that questions everything that thinks, really? did that actually happen? I am the kind of person who wants to see his scans, meet his doctor, to know its all true. Am I like doubting Thomas? I would be there saying, ok Jesus, show me the wounds then, and even then probably saying well maybe you didn't actually die....
And that is where I am at. I think I always will be. I believe, I have faith, but I think I have to be content to be one of those 'who believes but hasn't seen'. I think I am the type that no matter what I am presented with, my brain will question it. 

I infuriate myself all the time over this. I don't want to settle for less than seeing the glory of God for myself. I ask God for signs and wonders, I want to see my friends healed, but (as yet) I haven't seen it for myself. Am I still so impatient? Craig this morning talked about Kairos moments, in Gods timing, and I know this is true of me, I am sure once I take my foot off the accelerator God will answer my endless requests :) Can't help it though. In the words of that beautiful song, 'I am desperate for you..'


Nancy Wallace said...

I'm sure God is able to heal. I'm sure it's always right to pray for healing, remembering that sometimes the most complete healing has to come through death (and resurrection). I think there's some wisdom in keeping an open mind about some so-called 'miracles' as there are charlatan self-styled 'healers' out there who prey on the vulnerable. Something that gets me worried is when Christians pray in a way that sounds like telling God what he should do, how and when. In the end we have to leave the outcome of our prayers for healing in God's hands.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is difficult isn’t it? I worked in cancer care for many years and grew rather tired of hearing the overly religious tell me God, Jesus, Allah etc. would heal them. They all died of course. Many of these people were young, with families of their own and their death would mean a child would be motherless or fatherless or be stuck in the UK with no near relatives (I was involved in a lot of asylum seeker or ‘leave to remain’ because of suffering AIDS defining cancers cases – often single parent families). There was also the odd case of someone without any religious conviction or belief, suddenly going into remission. The human body is a marvellous machine, and we don’t really know its full potential. Who knows what is at the heart of these ‘healing’ stories. They are not just the possession of Christianity: there are similar stories to those of Craig Marsh’s found in contemporary Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sai Baba etc..

The main issue, that needs addressing, is the theology of miraculous healing. What is the purpose of it? My own take would be that of the ‘sacrament’ – here I don’t mean the word in the sense that it has in ‘anti-Catholic’ circles, of some ritualistic action. But rather an action in time and space that expresses something of the Kingdom. Perhaps it is because of the selfish reasons at the heart of a lot of request for healing that we don’t see evidence of it? Personally I am sceptical about much that is said to be ‘healing’.

Alas, miraculous healings raise more questions than they answer. The main question being why are so few healed and so many left to die or languish in a life time of pain and disability. I worked in palliative and disabilities’ social work for many years; I saw people suffer horrific illnesses and disabilities. So much so that I find it difficult to believe in a personal loving God. Hence such stories as that of Marsh’s healing irritate, rather than edify. I am reminded of the last lines of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’:

‘ If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori’

Too long I have seen others suffer similar fates, yet without the excuse of war for their mangled bodies and unspeakable suffering. Too long I have prayed and not been answered...

Nancy Wallace said...

Peter - I do agree with you on the idea of miraculous healings expressing something in time and space of the 'Kingdom'. In the gospel accounts of healings by Jesus, these are portrayed as 'signs' pointing to the now but not yet fully realized kingdom of God. Jesus didn't heal everyone. I also agree that experiences of miraculous healing are not confined to Christians. Christian or not I think part of being human is learning to live with the unanswered questions thrown up by suffering. The cruellest thing is to tell someone they will be healed if only they have enough faith, or pray in the right way etc.

Mitchell Powell said...

The frustrating thing is that generally when charismatic folks cite proof for their claims, it's not proof they can physically show you. For example, one might say that scans verified that body parts grew back, and that it amazed doctors, but the doctor himself is never available to tell you about it. If you watch folks heal on TV, you see all sorts of science-defying healings, and you may even see people get out of wheelchairs, but you never see an undeniable physical deformity healed, or a skin sickness healed, or anything else that would demonstrate clearly and openly that a healing is happening. There's even folk who have claimed to raise the dead, but always either people in a far, far off country, or else people they can't track down now to verify the story.

Can God heal? Most definitely. But after all the silliness I've seen, the outrageous testimonies, the emotional hype, and the missing or fragmentary nature of the 'evidence' always presented, I've just quit listening when someone starts talking about a healer.

And the last thing people who aren't willing to produce physical proof should do is to try to guilt us into believing. I've got at least one friend you says that it is God's will to heal all sickness on earth, and that it is his job to pray for people, and that God will always heal when asked in faith. And yet this man has repeatedly turned down my insistence that he should go to the hospital three blocks down by the street and make his claims undeniable. Don't tell me stories. Show me.

Red said...

thanks for the comments guys. I think for us in the 21st century it is hard because everything about our society suggests we can all be experts. The internet, books, blogs, you name it, knowledge is out there for us to take a hold of. BUT thing about God is that he is mysterious. For some people (probably me included) it is not enough to get to a point of understanding and to fill the blanks with the mystery of God - they want the holes filled. They search ever onwards for the answers that are unforthcoming. @Mitchell: it's a shame if you have given up believing in healing but I totally understand where you are coming from. I am a questioner, always, in a quest to know more of Jesus, but sometimes I think my search is too human, too based on this worlds knowledge and I don't leave room for Him.
@Peter: yes the question of why does one person get healed and another doesn't - impossible to answer really. Theologically as Nancu points out, miracles were often great tools for spreading the Gospel,the signs and wonders that changed peoples views. But I dont think that was the only reason. Jesus acts out of compassion and love and the bible gives examples of him healing people and then telling them not to tell what has happened. So partly he must just be acting out of his love for humanity.
Ultimatelty I think it's important with all these questions to just be open to what God can and wants to do. If we close ourselves off to the possibilities of His power does that then restrict Him?

Geoff said...

I like your approach. I was a guest on a Christian radio show that featured Marsh's stomach healing claims; it seems he either (a) never had the healing medically verified or (b) had the healing verified, but refuses to show the records. I've discussed both his conflicting statements here: http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.ie/2012/06/craig-marshs-response-more-than-i-can.html

Red said...

thanks Geoff. Funnily enough he is due back at my church next week... I wait eagerly to see what happens this time... Interesting his response to the request for medical records, I do agree that for some people no medical proof will convince them anyway, in this day and age they would say it is faked, so I can understand that. And you can't argue anyone into the kingdom, it needs to be a work of the holy spirit.
I went to see Randy Clark in London recently who was amazing and he talked about a group that are deliberately getting together evidence of healings after prayer in order to create a dossier of answered prayer. Sorry can't remember who they were (will see if I can find it and tweet you) but you might find it interesting...
thanks for the comment

Geoff said...

Hi Red,

Good to talk with you! would you be interested in a guest post on my blog? I think in the interest of balance it's only fair that I allow space for a Christian attendee to describe the event.

Or if you prefer, if you review his visit on your own blog I'll link to it from mine.



Red said...

hey Geoff, in theory yes, would love to. But can I let you know after his visit? we have a week of Craig Marsh events so be interesting to see how it goes as a whole. Hoping for some amazing healings to report back...!

Red said...

Hi Geoff. report here: http://pickingapplesofgold.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/craig-marsh.html
feel free to copy and repost or send people over here... redx

Craig Marsh said...

Hi Craig Marsh here. The thing about Geoff Shorts is that he is actually not a believer in Jesus Christ as the risen Saviour. All this man is interested in is increasing the traffic to his blog site which I suspect he is a serial blogger. As I have already posted there is no value in producing evidence which there is plenty of my healing!!. Hundreds upon hundreds knew me when I was sooooo sick. Sceptics like Geoff Shorts (not even his real name ) will never believe in Jesus as healer and are not really seeking Christianity. . You have got to look at the fruit as the Bible says. It is never about me and By the way Randy Clark and I have ministered together with fruit and proof of what Jesus is doing.
I really don't care about those who doubt what is their problem about God healing ?? he healed me as hundreds will testify, and heals thousands whom we pray for. So what is the problem here????

Red said...

Hi Craig
If you don't mind I would love to jusy verify that it is actually you who is writing here! Could you email me via julesrmiddleton@googlemail.com please? I'm sure you udnerstand that the online world is fulll of people impersonating others.. sad but true... If it is you, I really appreciate you commenting here and on the more recent posts too, it's always good to allow people to debate these things I feel. Perhaps you would consider writing a guest post for my blog about your testimnony or some of your experiences seeing people healed? Be great to hear from you,
with every blessing