My laptop used to freeze up when I played videos on it, and has overheated and shut down sporadically throughout its too-short two-year life. It doesn't do either of those things much anymore, and realizing this has from time to time elicited in me a pang of hope that perhaps it has resolved these difficulties on its own without needing me to spend money I don't have to fix it. Similarly, when my car leaks oil less rapidly, squeaks less obnoxiously one week than the week before I have to talk myself out of believing it has recovered from its injuries of its own accord. Machines simply don't heal, can't heal, in spite of how convenient it would be for us if they could. Healing requires life, organic cells, breath, a revelation which has got me thinking deeper thoughts than I'm used to. What is this peculiar business of healing?

If technology could heal, computer doctors would do a brisk business.

I am daily marveled by how much of the human experience we take for granted, as if we're numb to the magic of it all. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, I realize it every time I give it much thought, and lately the aspect of design I have been most awed by is this ability we humans have (along with most other living things I'm aware of) to heal from what pains us, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

According to the medical world, healing is first an exercise in addressing and overcoming physical ailment, and I concede physical healing is something beautiful and inherently miraculous; it is a good design of God's that hurt is followed by a road to recovery, long and painstaking as it might be. What is all the more miraculous to me, though, is that time might baptize our broken hearts as well, returning to us piece of mind and soul. It is a related enterprise, this metaphysical component to recovery, as built into the physiological notion of healing is the spiritual truth that with life comes the capacity to outgrow brokenness. Redemption is a cellular process as well as a spiritual one, as God forms and reforms us in His own image.

Physical and spiritual pain, the two are remarkably similar but are also distinct in at least one key way. What sets apart spiritual from physical ailment is the former, unlike the latter, is never the final word. While injury and illness might well come with terminal diagnosis, time and the redemptive power of God may piece back together even the most shattered heart. This makes spiritual healing a rather potent force, as it transcends the limitations of physical space. No doctor can tell you you will never feel joy again. No psychiatrist can diagnose you as being un-savable. We are each loved radically by a God whose presence restores even the most overshadowed among us so that we may always hope.

Hope comes from God, and is in fact one of the many reasons I oft return to when I wonder why we need God, even the idea of God, so much. In a world of perfect logic there is no room for hope, but in God's world even the thrice-widowed, even the pitiful addict, even the suicidal teen may look forward to smiling again.

Healing takes courage. One must be persistently irrational in one's hopeful expectation of a better tomorrow, particularly when tomorrow turns out to be just as miserable and one must hope again for the following day. Realism in this case does one about as much good as a shovel does a man who is already stuck deep in a hole. You can't keep digging. You need to be lifted up out of the hole, and you can't do that yourself.

The real salve for impossible pain is a little impossible faith. Tenaciously seeking healing when all signals indicate healing is out of reach is a naive thing to do, which makes it also a brave and miraculous thing to do.

So give God your worst. You'd be amazed how freeing it can be just to lay it all down, even if things don't change for the better, because knowing God is somehow in the thick of it with us is small enough a miracle to make tomorrow survivable. Let healing happen, even if it's small, even if it's private, even if it's silly. A tiny step in the direction of healing is still a step, and when we can't seem to find the strength to make it God goads us, nudges us, grabs hold of our feet and steps for us.
I google image searched "healing" and this was the only picture not of glowing hands. 
Sometimes it feels this way though. Sometimes it feels like things don't get better.

Now this is all starting to seem rather impersonal; you might be wondering where I am at with the whole "healing" thing. Well, I'm reminded of what some theologian once said of God's Kingdom, that it is "already but not yet." God has come but things are not quite right yet, though we are moving in the right direction even when it doesn't seem that way. I guess that's where I'm at: I've been hurt, I've been honestly and deeply hurt by people whom I ought to have been able to trust, and I am in a persistent state of being overwhelmed by the pain in the world, the pain of those I love, but I am also firm in the knowledge that I am beloved by a mighty and benevolent God, one who is down here with me even though He doesn't have to be. So I know I'm healing, even if I can't see it today. I am already-but-not-yet healed.

God made us adaptive, malleable, and resilient because God has a handle on all of this. God made us able to heal because God loves us. Perhaps that's an obvious word but it's a good one too, and sometimes the obvious needs to be said. None of this is new or particularly insightful, but it is true, so let's start living like it is.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

James 5:13-16


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