Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Don't Write Off the Disappointed

She waved her arms enthusiastically in the air. Well, who could blame her? The healing evangelist had just called out her painful condition in front of nearly 2,000 people. He had said that there was a woman present with painful osteo arthritis affecting her knees and other joints and that God was going to heal her. This use of the charisma called 'a word of knowledge' (see 1 Corinthians 12:8) is common in the healing revivals going on around the world at the moment, and especially in America. When it happens, the sufferer must surely conclude that their moment has come. God is calling them out - He must be going to heal them!

We were standing right behind her in Bill Johnson's wonderful church in Redding, California. When Bill prayed for her she went down on the floor with a thump and stayed there for a good time. When she got up the meeting went on, but those who had been prayed for were encouraged to do something that they couldn't do before. This lady tried to flex her sore knees, and nearly stumbled once more to the floor. She struggled in obvious disappointment back to her seat. Later, when Bill asked 'who has been healed tonight?' many hands went up, but not hers.

As a pastor and a fellow sufferer of chronic pain I felt very keenly for her. I praise God for the many healings taking place right now, but I want to urge people not to neglect the need of the disappointed. We need a theology of suffering alongside our theology of healing.
  • It will bring balance to our prayers and our comments
  • It will assure the disappointed that they still matter to God and to us
  • It will hold them in God's love while they wait for God's power

So, what was happening that night? Was God calling this lady out? What for if not for healing? Well, I suppose that in such a big crowd there may have been others who fitted the description given. It may not have been her time for healing, but it may well have been a test of her responsiveness and obedience to God. It may just have been a well-intentioned mistake. What it did do was make me determined not to neglect the disappointed in my ministry. I want to find ways of reaching out to them and to continue standing with them while they wait for God. After all, in this as in other aspects of the Christian life, whilst we may be disappointed in a ministry or a meeting or a man, Jesus should not be a disappointment. I have found that He is not, and even in the heat of the battle with pain, I have proved Him to be faithful and true.