This past week on the Chronically Cultivating Podcast, my favorite pastor and I sat down to talk all about the “H” word – healing. Talking about healing, especially when you’re someone who God has chosen not to heal, can be uncomfortable. Recently I came across a passage in the Word that talked about healing, I got uncomfortable and almost a little frustrated. This led me to sit down with the desire to understand why I felt that way.
There is a lot of “church hurt” that has surrounded people not being healed. What I mean by this is people being told that it’s their fault or it’s being portrayed that they don’t have enough faith. This has caused a huge divide between the chronic illness community and the church. So today I want to talk about this topic as I am someone who God has chosen not to physically heal yet.
Want to listen to this whole episode? Check it out below!
There are so many stories like mine. When I was in high school, I went to a Christian school, and every week we had a local pastor come in for chapel. Now this was at a time that I was in a severe flare up with what we thought was simply CRPS that was affecting my life significantly. (We, my team and my family, were not aware at the time that I had EDS or multiple other diagnoses until over 4 years later.) I was wrestling already with God trying to understand why He was allowing my suffering to continue, why treatments weren’t working, and so many other big things. Now that you have some background, let’s go back to this sermon in chapel. This Pastor that was there happened to be there was talking about healing and whatnot. I had been prayed over by the elders, and all the scriptural things that, you know, we’re told to do when we’re praying for healing/ asking the Lord to heal and I wasn’t healed.
This was a very small school so it wasn’t like this was a huge crowd, and I felt very singled out although I don’t think that was this pastor’s intention, but that’s just the way that it felt. Then he said, “if you haven’t been healed, you need to look at what sin is in your life because if you’ve done the right things and you’ve been prayed over and haven’t been healed then it’s your fault. You need to repent so that you can be healed.” I actually stood up in the middle of chapel, and walked out. I called my dad in the hallway crying, and I just remember telling him that I needed him to come get me.
“Knowing the pastor who said this, it was more of an ignorance on his part. Because I don’t think that this person is ill intentioned or specifically tries to hurt anyone, but he is a health and wealth pastor (when we say health and wealth, we’re talking about prosperity gospel teaching.) There are some real challenges to that view scripturally, one of the significant ones is the issue of healing because it looks at things through the lens of, ‘God wants everyone to have their best life now.’ Therefore, if you give your life to Him and you just do what He says, give to the church, and you try to be a good person, then God’s going to give you health and help you prosper. This approach looks at things from a physical standpoint, not from a spiritual standpoint, and often the prosperity and health we’re talking about is spiritual, not necessarily physical. Although it could be, but there are plenty of cases in scripture where we see people not being healed, people being used in the midst of pain and suffering. You know one of the biggest things scripturally is speaking the truth in love, and unfortunately lots of people like to speak the truth, but it’s not often done in love. And really, that’s when you find that it causes more harm than good.”Pastor Steve Mayo
I was probably 14-15 years old, and I had no idea the impact it would have to my relationship with the Lord. The damage from this Pastor’s arrogance and ignorance took years and years to repair. This shook my whole faith and standing. When someone has not been healed, there’s already a lot of wrestling between them and God on their own, and to have someone after that in the middle of already trying to reconcile this on my own, I’m thinking the worst already, and to have someone insinuate that this was my fault, or because I didn’t have enough faith, and whatnot. I mean, it truly broke me, it didn’t just hurt me.
Something that really helped me reconcile the pain of not being healed as I got older, was in John 9, where Jesus and His disciples are walking, and the disciples ask Him, “What did this man do or what is did his parents do to make him [disabled] in this way?” In His response in John 9, Jesus is very quick, and I imagine Jesus saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa – hold up, we need to discuss this because it’s not that simple.”
“Yeah, it’s clear that as soon as they say it, Jesus makes it very clear that this isn’t the case. And I think the reason it comes out is because this is the way things were viewed, especially in that culture. If someone was sick, if someone had a long term illness or something going on, it was assumed that someone had sinned, in order to make them get to that place. So Jesus in John, 9:3 says, “neither this man nor his parents have sinned.” Said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Now in this particular case, God healed him, but that’s not always the case; here you see this thought that: if there is an illness, if there’s something going on, one of us must be living in sin. And Jesus is essentially saying, “No, you’re not looking at things the right way, you’re looking at it from a human perspective.”
One of the challenges now is that we’ve gone back to some of those pharasaical (holier than thou) views. Now, as we were talking before the podcast, I said, “we do need to be careful because I do believe that there are situations when there can be either sin in someone’s life, or, you know, there could be an issue of lack of faith, and that could cause a problem. But so often, it’s, “okay well if this then that” and we kinda look at those you know the charts with a yes or no. You know it’s, “if yes go this way – if no go this way.” If not healed, well then what is the case and the piece that seems to be missing at times, as people at times like to, they see their options as Option A or Option B, and they don’t realize that there could be an option C. So in this case they’re kind of asking, “Jesus which is it? Is it option A, that means the man’s parents sinned, or is it option B, this man sinned so he was born blind, or that God knew he was gonna sin and that’s why he’s born blind?” Jesus goes, “but you’re missing a door, you’re missing another option, and that is maybe this illness is there or has been allowed to happen, because the power of God can be seen through it.”Pastor Steve Mayo
Exploring John 9 and searching the Lord, I have come to find acceptance in the fact that I might not be healed in this lifetime, but I can rejoice in hope knowing that He will heal me when I get to Heaven. So God’s not saying no, He’s just saying not yet.
I don’t know if you are in a similar place, but if you are I want to reassure you of a couple different things:
- You can pray for healing even if you’ve accepted that He might not heal you in this lifetime.
- You still live a life worth living in Jesus even if God has said “not yet.”
- You can still believe in healing, but decline going to healing services.
- Jesus is the only one who can heal, now he can use pastors and disciples too, but watch out for arrogance and prosperity gospel teachings.
BUT – Get to know Jesus for yourself! Head into His Word, don’t just hear it from us, don’t take our word for it, don’t take another person’s word – go into the Word yourself to directly hear from Him.
“So I share this with you now, because if you’re sitting there and you’re hurting and you’re suffering – I want you to know that Jesus is hurting too. I can picture Him there with you, weeping alongside you, because this is a part of the sin condition. Yet in the end the desire is that all will come to salvation. Otherwise we would give our lives to Jesus and He would just take us up to Heaven with Him; then we’d be over with this life, but there are people who still need to hear and, you may have a very significant part in that. There also may be someone who needs to see the love of Christ through you or maybe there’s someone who might need to know or hear your witness. God says, “you know, the easiest thing would be to remove you from the situation, but you know what, there’s someone else whom I love deeply, and they need to hear that I love them – and you know what? You are the perfect person to do that.”Pastor Steve Mayo
Pastor Steve Mayo is not only Cassie’s Dad, but has been the Senior Pastor at Elm Street Community Church since 2004 with a doctorate and focus in Multiethnic Studies. He is also the Executive Director of Shining Light Ministries. His desire if to reflect Jesus Christ in every aspect of his life in his roles as a husband, father, pastor, executive director, triathlete coach and friend. His goal is to be used by God to impact the community and world for Jesus. To check out his blog, head to Finding Your Way Home here!
Cassie Nolin is a married spoonie who lives the chronic illness life with EDS + Co. (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and it’s comorbid conditions.) She challenges others to choose grace over guilt while goal setting, and is in ministry part time serving the online community through Grace + Goals and The Spoonie Study. She loves planting, hand lettering, and sharing the hope she has found in Jesus. Her blog, Living the Chronic Illness Life, is in the top 100 chronic illness blogs and in 2019 she launched her podcast, Chronically Cultivating, where Cassie encourages women to live authentic and intentional lives through their diagnosis’ not in spite of them. You can learn more about her at www.livingthechronicillnesslife.com