Disclaimer: This post began as a session of a women’s Bible Study on the names of God at Westside Bible Church. I tried to adapt it from an outline; I never realized how hard it would be to turn an outline into a written narrative. So when it doesn’t make sense, that’s why.
Disclaimer 2: I hate disclaimers and think people should just put their stuff out there and let it live. That’s also harder than expected.
Exodus 15: 22-26: 22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.
There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am JEHOVAH RAPHA [the Lord, who heals you.]”
Although I met Jesus as my savior over 20 years ago, I didn’t meet the God of Grace and God my Healer until 8 or 9 years ago. Some of the story is here; the very short version is, the rug was jerked out from under me when my husband of almost three years told me one day he didn’t want to be married anymore and that he’d been sleeping with someone else for half our marriage.
I found a Christian counselor who accepted my Aetna insurance and I saw her weekly for six or eight weeks, when she had to suddenly move out of town for a job transfer. At the same time, a woman at church had stepped, unknowingly, into the gap. She opened the floodgates when one Sunday morning she innocently asked how I was and instead of answering, I burst into tears. I started going to a divorce support group where I met other people–men and women–who were in the same situation. And by the grace of Jehovah Rapha, my heart and soul healed over time. Praise God! Once healed, healed forever. End of story. Nothing will break again, right?
I told my story at a women’s Bible study on the Names of God. And throughout my little talk on our Jehovah Rapha, our God who heals, with all its triumphant bullet points, I ignored the enormous elephant in the room – all the times God has apparently neglected His healing promise. My mom died of breast cancer; He didn’t heal her. Marriages fall apart; He failed to heal mine and many others. Families are estranged; He’s not healing those relationships. And worst of all, a woman I know lost two of her sons to a rare genetic disorder and her third son to suicide. How could God not heal even one of these kids? Everywhere around people are covered with visible scars and open wounds. Our complete healing will happen in God’s time, not ours. But in the meantime, what kind of Healer lets all of a couple’s children die? What kind of Healer doesn’t heal?
All I could do in my situation was to take responsibility for my own part, leave the rest ot God, and believe that all will ultimately be done for our good and His glory. If I was not broken, I would not have met the true God of Grace. And that alone made the entire experience – the marriage and the divorce, worthwhile. I don’t know why He hasn’t (yet) healed your brokenness – ask Him. In the meantime, He at least understands; He’s been there.
“But please, please – won’t you- can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now in his despair, he looked up, at his face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion really must be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. My son, my son, said Aslan. I know. Grief is great.” The Magician’s Nephew, C.S. Lewis
Back to that plaintive howl I’ve heard from believers and non believers alike: What kind of God allows such evil/what kind of Healer doesn’t heal?
I don’t know the full answer, but I know that he is a God and a Healer whose ways are so far beyond ours that we’re just unable to comprehend. My mom is completely healed in heaven, and she wouldn’t come back here even if she could, nor would I bring her back. Those three sons are together in heaven, physically, mentally, and emotionally completely whole. And they’re all hanging out with Jesus. Now, Jesus is working on healing those of us who remain behind. We’re the broken ones; the ones already home are completely whole with minds and bodies as God originally intended.
Sin is rampant in the world – millennia upon millennia of sin upon sin, contaminating our entire universe right down to each cell in our bodies. The consequences of the Fall overwhelm us in our human fragility. Relationships and family healing require buy-in from multiple parties. God rarely makes people do things they don’t want to do.
But, He doesn’t tend to heal us if we don’t want to be healed. In my year or two as a DivorceCare facilitator, I met men and women who were determined to avoid the Healer. And I totally get it–it‘s a lot easier to be angry and to nurture bitterness than to let it go and let God deal with that wicked evil hopeless sinner you used to be married to. God for sure wasn’t going to deal with him/her correctly – He’d probably offer them grace and love when what they deserved was to have a can of whoop-ass revenge of biblical proportions opened up upon them.
So it’s first up to me to look for my healing, and to ask for it–from Himself, from his appointees (pastors, mentors, people who’ve been there), from professionals (doctors, therapists, etc).
Fear and pride can keep us from looking for healing; healing from a broken heart is a long road and I for one encountered some unpleasant truths about myself along the way. Yeah, it hurt a lot more before it got better. But worse, the danger of not looking for healing is the temptation to define myself by my suffering. Hello darkness my old friend; I’ve come to talk with you again. The darkness, the anger, bitterness is at least familiar, and because it’s familiar, it’s comforting. Who might I be if I was whole and healthy? I might not be myself anymore. What if I go through this healing process and nothing changes and I’m still miserable? Or, what if I try and God lets me down? Paul asked God three times for healing from his unnamed issue and God said no. If God says no to Paul, why would he say yes to me?
Healing looks different for everyone. Some people are healed from cancer, from depression. Marriages are restored. And for the rest of us…we’ve already been healed in the greater sense, but as long as we’re here on Earth, we’ll just keep breaking; we’ll always be in need of healing, and He will provide that; it just might not look the way we expect.