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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Advent 6: Waiting for healing

God is a healer. It is part of his character, the heart of who he is. His name is Yahweh-Rophe, the God who heals you. When Jesus was on the earth he revealed God's character as a healer. John the Baptist, chained and desperate in prison, sent word to ask if Jesus was really the Promised One. Jesus' reply was that he must be because he was doing what only God's anointed one could do; he was healing:

"When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’
Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who doesn't stumble on account of me." (Matthew 11:2-6)

Jesus quotes the ancient words of Isaiah back to John. In Isaiah 35, the picture is of a barren and weary land that is longing for rain. The promise is that one day, what is parched and dead will spring back to life, what is broken will finally be fixed, the wilderness will become an oasis. God's people are told to take courage; to strengthen feeble hands and faltering footsteps because the healing God will come. And when Jesus does come this is exactly what he does: his acts of healing as he walks the earth testify to the reality of who he is. He is the sent One. He is the waited for One with the power to heal and restore and make all things new.

What about us? What about now? God is the healer and yet we remain hurting. Prayers remain unanswered. Jesus came and he healed once, but what do we do when we ask for healing and it doesn't happen? Where is the Healer in among cancer, and miscarriage, chronic pain, and unfair death? 

I have no answers. I do not know why God sometimes heals and he sometimes doesn't. But the promise of Jesus as Healer is a promise that extends beyond this life. One day we will be healed. We will be fully restored. Our broken bodies will be made perfect. And in the meantime, Jesus works out an altogether deeper kind of healing. It is by his wounds that we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5). At the cross Jesus healed our relationship with the Father. He is not content with physical well-being; he wants it all fixed. Mind. Body. Soul. Spirit. That's quite an ambitious project. It cost Jesus his life. 

Reflection: Father God, help me to see what you have healed instead of arguing with you about what you haven't. Help me to trust in your healing character even when I don't see it. Thank you for Jesus and his healing work on the cross. Because of his wounds I am healed. Because of his blood I am washed clean of sin and shame. Because of his death I live. Amen. 

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