That's great news," I exclaimed into the phone. "I'm so happy for them. Know I'll keep praying," I told my friend Sandy as I hung up. Sandy had called with an update about her friend's son, a leukemia patient whose blood clots had dissolved in record time. The doctors were amazed; the parents were praising God.
I really was happy for them. But I also felt hurt. I'd already lost one son to mitochondrial disease, a genetic condition that inhibits energy production at the cellular level. Now my other son was in neurological decline from the same disease. Deep inside I wondered, Why not us?
Why did God seem to heal some people and not others? I'd lost a friend a few years ago to melanoma cancer, but had another celebrating her five-year milestone of being cancer-free. There didn't seem to be any consistency.
Several weeks later, as my women's Bible study did an overview of Jesus' miracles, I continued to struggle with seeing God's healing power on others' behalf. Why not my sons?
Then we discussed the story of the bleeding woman in Mark 5. In the story, Jesus was on his way to Jairus's house to heal his daughter. Pressed by crowds along the way, Jesus stopped suddenly and asked who'd touched him. Unbeknownst to the crowds, in their midst was a woman who'd been bleeding for 12 years. She'd exhausted her funds on medical help to no avail. She was considered unclean and allowed no meaningful interaction with people.
When she heard Jesus was near, she broke the rules and went to find him, knowing if she could just touch the hem of his robe she'd be healed. Her belief proved true. When Jesus refused to continue his journey without knowing who touched him, she bowed before him and confessed what she'd done. Jesus replied, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (v. 34).
As I contemplated the story, I struggled with the phrase "your faith has healed you." Were my boys not healed because I didn't have enough faith? Was I to blame? Then I started to wonder why Jesus stopped. If the physical healing was all that mattered, he didn't need to pause his journey. But he did stop, and he refused to continue until he knew who'd touched him.
I recognized that Jesus didn't view the healing as the critical issue. Relationship was. He stopped because this woman's spiritual condition was even more important than her physical disease. Although touching his robe provided physical healing and relief, the healing was temporary, as she'd still eventually die. Jesus wanted an eternal healing, her restored relationship and mended spirit. He wanted her. Her physical healing was merely a stepping stone to her spiritual one.
Jesus' response to the woman's confession was to call her "daughter." By believing in Jesus, her faith had healed her spiritual disease and brought her into a living, healthy relationship with her God and Father. He told her "Your faith has healed you" about her spiritual healing. He said, "Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" after she'd already been healed physically. These words referred to the end of suffering from being spiritually separated from God's love.
I still don't understand why God doesn't heal everyone. What I do know, however, is that no matter what circumstances our lives hold, God is ultimately focused on using those circumstances to draw us to him. Any physical healing is temporary at best. A spiritual healing, however, provides an eternal end to the deepest suffering possible.
I'm thankful for God's patient teaching. Through my struggles with my boys' disease, I've come into a truer, deeper faith. I still have moments when I question and feel deeply life's pain. But now I also find comfort from an eternal perspective and assurance of God's control. I guess I've received my own spiritual healing. For understanding God's bigger picture has freed this daughter from her suffering as well.
Juli Lubelczyk, a teacher currently on leave to care for her son, lives in Maryland.
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