November 3, 2011
Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Letter #198: Sick of This Sickness
I am sick. No, not “down with all that,” “hip,” “fly,” “bomb-dizzle,” “top dawg,” or any other fad term to describe awesomeness of a high degree. I am also not the kind of sick used as an excuse for heinous behavior—unless you include copious amounts of coughing, sneezing, and squeaky-sore-throat-talking in definitions of “heinous behavior,” as my cellie, Phillip, does. He wasn’t thrilled when I decided to share my sickness with him, but generosity knows no limitations, right? Being in the rather smallish confined space together didn’t leave us with many options, no matter how much hand-washing or sanitizing you do. Honestly.
Just a few weeks ago, an older couple who travels all over the United States conducting church services in prisons was scheduled to be with us for a few days. They travel around, encouraging prisoners with stories of faith and healing. Regularly they have “healing” services, where they lay hands on the sick and lame.
At our facility, many guys showed up for the service. Phillip led the worship portion of the service with our regular faithful volunteer, Peggy. I played keyboard while men came forward to be praying for and healed. Many were visibly moved by the service, and though I cannot be certain as to the long-term healings that may or may not have taken place, many claimed to have been healed.
The couple have witnessed much as God has mightily healed people in response to their faith. I only sound skeptical (though I believe that there have been healings in other services), but that is only me. I had a tough time with the fact that only half of the couple showed up for our service. The woman was not real forthcoming regarding her husband’s whereabouts—just that he unfortunately could not make it. When pressed, she revealed that he was, of all things, sick. I do not, as some do, see every hint of illness as a working of The Evil One, though I do believe in the power of God to heal those who believe Him for healing—of any kind—in faith. What was sad to me in this instance was that we were not asked to join in prayer together for Mr. Healing Service to get … healed … so he could join us for the service.
All of that to say, I’m not certain if being sick a few weeks ago would have been better for me than right now. I have no healing service to attend, but I am confident in my God, the Great Physician, who will heal me. Shortly! See, I also know that He carefully allows trials and tribulations—but never more than I can handle with His help—for the purpose of developing godly character in me. (I’m definitely getting my character-building’s worth out of this sickness, I tell you the truth!) I can’t help but wonder if I had been sick a few weeks ago, what then? Would I have acknowledged it in front of the church so the lady would have laid hands on me? Would I have gotten her sick?
Well, I’m sick enough now that I sound like the lady herself, so there’s no need for me to announce my sickness to anyone—my creepy old lady voice (why couldn’t it be a sweet old lady voice at least?) announces the germ warfare stats fairly well as it is. But I’m just not certain that if I’d been sick a few weeks ago, if I’d have been healed in that service.
Now, for those of you familiar with this area, you may be sensing already that my “faith is too small” to have been healed anyway, or that a “lack of boldness” could have even prevented me from receiving a healing, or any number of me-related reasons as to why I wouldn’t have been healed. I’ve certainly received the spiritual blame before, when a predicted “faith outcome” prophesied over me didn’t happen, or when someone speaking and—what I call—“spiritually guessing” about my life was incorrect. But my faith is not so small that it is easily shaken based on someone else’s misuse of their faith or because they lacked faith altogether. No, my faith is based solely upon the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross, and my God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory. Sickness is but a slight change in circumstance. An opportunity to rely on God a bit more, and a reminder to be grateful for health, and the One who gives it. It’s a good thing He loves old ladies.