Eugene Peterson’s Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. These two Old Testament passages remind us that God restores us and heals us; Jehovah is the Great Physician who heals the physical and emotional need of God’s people.
Exaltation of the Afflicted (Isaiah 61:1 AMP)
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners.”
Psalm 103, A David Psalm (MSG)
” . . . . O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. . . .”
Scripture reveals many names for God. Jehova Rapha is a name that speaks of God’s healing power. Jehovah is translated as “The Existing One” or “Lord.” The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning “to be” or “to exist.” It also suggests “to become” or specifically “to become known” – this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Rapha means “to restore”, “to heal,” or “to make healthful” in Hebrew. When the two words are combined – Jehovah Rapha – it can be translated as “Jehovah Who Heals.” Jehovah Rapha is the Great Physician who heals the physical and emotional needs of His people. You can find this name of God in Exodus. 15:26, Jeremiah. 3:22, Jeremiah. 30: 17, Isaiah 30:26 as well as in the two passages above.
Scripture teaches us that God is concerned about healing both our physical and emotional needs; sometimes healing one heals the other. Also, Jesus made a point of saying that forgiving sins and healing diseases may be synonymous: “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home’” (Matthew. 9: 5-6).
When we pray for healing for ourselves or others, it seems best if we don’t tell God what healing we expect, since we do not know what the best healing will be. We may want a disease to disappear, but God may want that person to learn from dealing with the illness. We pray for people to be released from pain, but pain and suffering often teaches us more than well-being. We may ask God to save a life, but that life may be better lived in God’s eternal kingdom.
Ruth Van Gorder expresses this idea beautifully in the poem Only Remember:
“I shall not pray to God for you
for what I think you would
like to have, or ought to have,
of gain or grace or good;
or even for your current dream,
lest time should prove we both had begged
for you a bitter fruit . . .
only remember you with love
without the least request;
and God, who loves you more than I,
will do for you what’s best.”
♥ In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning describes “the brotherhood of the bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out” who “feel like a charred log in a fire-place.” We have all felt like this at one time or another – perhaps at this very moment. Read these words from Hosea 11 and put your name in the blank.
“When ___ was a child, I loved him (her) and out of Egypt I called ___ . . . it was I who taught ___ to walk; I took ___ up by his/her arms, but ___did not know that I healed him (her). I led ___ with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to ___ as one who eases the yoke on their jaw, and I bent down to ___and fed him (her).”
Talk to God about how you have felt in the past and how you feel now. Ask God to help you always remember that you are loved, carried, healed, led, loved, and fed. Listen to how God responds to you.
♥ Pain, physical, emotional, or spiritual – is a fact of life. Pain can affect your faith in God, not to mention in your faith in your ability to manage your life. How can we handle pain? In her book An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor suggests engaging pain so that it can teach you. Here is one way to do that:
- Make a graph of your life with your birthday at the left of the page and today’s date on the right.
- Fill in the major events along the graph that have made you who you are.
- You will likely note that the times of pain bear some relationship to the leaps in your growth.
- Reflect on the influence of pain on your spiritual journey.
Physical or emotional pain can bring out the best in us as well as the worst. If it has crowded out the meaning of your life, make that a subject of prayer and find someone to talk to about it.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“To embrace one’s brokenness, whatever it looks like, whatever has caused it, carries within it the possibility that one might come to embrace one’s healing, and then one might come to embrace another and their brokenness and their possibility for being healed. To avoid one’s brokenness is to turn one’s back on the possibility that the Healer might be at work here, perhaps for you, perhaps for another” (Robert Benson in “Living Prayer”).