In the latter half of the 1970s I worked in The Salvation Army’s Youth Department. It sometimes happened that I got to meet with small groups of pupils in their 8th year in school, while they learned about the different churches. They had their prepared questions and rarely was I surprised. But one day it happened.
They had obviously studied the life of Jesus and now the question was: ‘Are people healed today, too?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that happens. I have never seen it myself, but I have heard about it.’ We had a little conversation on the subject and then they went back to school.
That logical and simple question disturbed me. Why did I believe in healing but yet had never seen it happen?
Off and on I explored the subject. I heard explanations like, ‘The greatest miracle is that we are saved.’ That is true, but it was also like an excuse for not entering into the issue of healing more specifically. Another type of answer related to the guilt trap – meaning that, if I pray and healing does not happen, I will bear the guilt of someone else’s disappointment. As humans, we like to avoid guilt at any cost.
However, God led me further. It was the time of the Jesus Revival. I visited a couple of their tent meetings in the summer. Simple stories of God’s miraculous acts encouraged me. In the 1980s I joined in meetings with evangelists who preached and prayed for both spiritual and physical healing in people. The result was evident right in front of my eyes.
All of this was not without controversy. Many looked for reasons to support their unbelief and fears, instead of recognising that good things happened in Jesus’ name. It is right to be prepared for the unwise behaviour of ‘overheated’ people and for conflicts. That is why there also needs to be teams of wise leaders and counsellors involved. We should not expect the devil to let go of his hold without a fight.
To me it was important to experience God’s powerful presence and to see that people received lasting change and healing. It was a bit like making a choice of faith. I choose to believe in the power of Jesus here and now and to learn to handle the difficulties, rather than just being content with the calm life of religious activities.
One basic issue here is ‘faith’. Letting God be God. Jesus points out our part in this in several situations. Examples are the Roman Centurion and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 8:5-13 & 15:21-28). Both were non-Jewish outsiders, but Jesus referred to their faith as an important part of his ability to heal the servant and the child. However, this does not mean that people who are not healed lack faith. We should not simplify things or victimise anyone.
It is logical that our Creator God is capable of overruling the laws of nature and showing his supernatural power. Fortunately, he does not need a revival meeting in order to do his work. We can pray for God’s intervention during any coffee-break or in our homes.
I still have some of the questions that I faced 40 years ago. There is a need for healing of hurt souls as well as for the power of God to work alongside doctors. All this makes me look forward to any opportunity to pray in faith for God’s intervention in people’s lives.
This text has been published in Die Heilsarmee Magazin #10/2017