Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Picture of Healing - ours, or His?

On my other blog, I've just put up a post about a visit to Freedom's Door in Kelowna. There is a passage where I describe the nature of doing God's work with the urban poor in terms of different people rowing different boats towards the same goal. Let me expand on that in more general terms.

Anything that leads to distress -- poverty, broken relationships, things Just Plain Going Wrong -- is rooted in a falling-away from God. So -- as I explain in the other post -- any boat has to be moving not towards the worldly goal, but towards a deepening relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Christ, not the solution, has to be that goal.


Because as human beings, we can only see what we think the solution to any problem must look like. My favorite illustration relates to the gallstone attack I suffered just over three years ago. I prayed for healing, but I limited God by expecting that He would heal me by vaporizing the gallstones and I wouldn't have to have surgery. But I did have to have surgery, and in the process learned that the gall bladder was the "canary in the coal mine" for possible other ailments, like heart problems due to bad eating. I dropped 20 pounds during the peri-operative time and was forced to re-examine my unhealthy taste for fats and salt. The gall bladder, I could do without.

In other words, I was healed, alright, but in a different way from the way I was expecting. I may not be a poster boy for Mike Wendland's SuperHealthyMe, but God has laid the groundwork and defined true healing in this case. And in the mean time, my relationship with Him has deepened.

And so it is with anything else that requires healing. If we define the picture of healing, a number of things can happen, none of which is good:
  • we cut corners to achieve what we think we're supposed to get
  • we stop when we think we've arrived
  • we get frustrated and miss the healing when our picture doesn't match God's response
  • we think God doesn't hear our prayers
Take, for example, the situation on the Downtown East Side. What does "healing" for that area look like? If we define it as, say, ending homelessness, do we heal that by building more shelters? Requiring developers to include social housing in their chic projects? Sending a battalion of building and health inspectors to the Cockroach Condos euphemistically referred to as SROs*?

Do we define it as ridding the area of the drug and crime problem and (a) give out more needles to addicts, (b) legalize drugs and prostitution, (c) provide more "clean and safe" injection sites?

Or isn't it simpler to say that the solution is not to solve the problems but to re-focus people on Christ? If we set out to solve every problem we see using our own intellect, we're hooped. But if we shine the light of Christ everywhere we go, the darkness -- and the problems that come with it -- doesn't have a chance.

You can't snuff out darkness - all that does is bring more darkness; the Light of Christ trumps anything the enemy can bring.

As Jesus puts it, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16).

Simple to say, perhaps, but not easy. Let's not kid ourselves: that approach may -- like the gallstone experience -- take longer, be more painful and lead to something totally different from what we think will happen; but it will be complete and exactly in line with what God wants.

And from there ... we can break free from the mire of the past and move into the future God wants for His people.


*SRO = Single Room Occupancy hotels.

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