It would be wrong not to face the fact that all are not healed. It is inevitable that an anguished cry of 'Why?' rises in our hearts when fervent prayers on behalf of our loved one seem unanswered. As far as we know we have fulfilled all the Biblical requirements for answered prayer, yet to no avail. The healing we seek for ourself or another does not occur. However, it has been found in many cases that, although the physical ailment continues, the pain is lessened. Of even greater importance is that a spiritual (emotional) uplift takes place, bringing peace and quiet joy to the sick one.
There may be hidden barriers to the healing process. Long-held resentments, festering guilt from an old transgression, or feelings of anger against some person, though these have never been expressed. In such cases only confession to God and a full acceptance of his forgiveness, will open the channels to possible healing.
We should nevertheless accept that some are not healed, for reasons we do not know, for that we have learnt. by experience. But we must never doubt the love of God. This life is not the only one. We know all must die sometime. Even the hundreds healed by Christ died later, probably of disease. It is obvious that on account of the extended longevity of modern times, the body begins to wear out and is therefore more subject to disease. There is a natural life-rhythm which we must not seek to combat. Death is nothing to fear. It is simply the opening of a door into another form of living, far freer and more developed than this one.
PAUSE: Think of someone you know who has been sick for a long time. Join in prayer for that person. Then appoint a member of the group to visit or write to the invalid, telling of your prayers.
Doctors and medicine. While seeking spiritual healing we should continue to avail ourselves of the medicine and expertise of doctors. The two are complementary. We can ask God to bless the doctor in the treatment he prescribes.
We have seen from our Bible studies that even Jesus required an atmosphere of faith around him. Perhaps more healings could take place if there was greater, joyous belief in Godís power and love. Our spiritual thermometers seldom rise above tepid. It is said that each person in an audience contributes 100 watts of body temperature, so a full hall is always warmer than a half-empty one. How much spiritual heat do we add to a meeting? Do we expect the spiritual glow to be generated by the speaker and to spread down to us, or are we supporting him/her by our ardent faith and prayer, filling the hall with an almost palpable presence of the Spirit of God? A dismal climate of non-expectancy, not believing for any outpouring of Godís power, puts a damper on any group. We are so accustomed to the ordinary routine that we forget what Godís Spirit can do.
DISCUSS: Recent meetings, naming any items which have seemed to warm the spiritual atmosphere, such as a testimony, prayer or song.
Suffering for oneís faith. Martyrdom still exists, though not so often by bullet or spear. Instead it may mean long imprisonment or banishment to a labour camp. Solitary confinement in a narrow, dark cell, with frequent interrogations and often torture, is harder to bear than swift execution.
Years ago in Denmark I listened to a radio play by the priest-martyr, Kaj Munk. It concerned the brave witness of a young Christian girl in a totalitarian state. In the final scene the girl was led out before a firing squad and given a last chance to say the words that would save her life: "The State is everything.'' Facing her guards she raised her head and in ringing tones cried: 'Christ is everything.!' Then the shots spattered and she fell.
I can still recall the strange, bubbling joy that filled my heart as I heard the shots. The girl was dead according to the prison guards, but they were mistaken. She was alive.! Alive with vibrant life in the realm of God. She had won through.! May we be faithful to God until the end.
CLOSE with a period of thanksgiving. and commitment.