And for me, they don’t just go away. My food choices are limited and my itchy reactions to them irritating. For over four months I have dealt with chronic hives that have easily earned the title of “nuisance”.
When held in comparison with the suffering of those in my church body, community, and around the globe, my little skin issues cower pathetically. Chronic hives, I’m sure, would be a welcomed relief to someone like Joni Eareckson Tada who deals with chronic pain on top of life-inhibiting paraplegia.
Yet no matter their triviality, my hives are hard to ignore, and even harder to figure out.
But they have taught me. My enigmatic itchy reactions have taught me what it truly means to be healed by Jesus.
Our church is currently traveling through the gospel book of Mark with a sermon series titled Long Live the King. My Sunday morning journal seems to be bursting at the seams with insights that I just have to scribble down. (I’m kind of a religiously avid note-taker, by the way.) I have found myself journeying back again and again to that journal, poring over the details of Jesus’ walk with his disciples from raging storms, to demonic men, to diseased outcasts, to the hopeless dead. One thing stands out above all others.
Jesus has power.
Sea-calming, demon-chasing, disease-ridding, dead-raising power.
Jesus can heal. With a spoken word, a touch of the hand, or even a grasp of his garment, Jesus Christ is God and is more than capable of restoring complete health and life, if only we ask.
But I have asked. Trust me, I ask every day that my hives would fade away; that my itching would cease; that I could eat without restriction. I have asked. And I have not been healed.
Or have I?
Perhaps there is more to healing than I see at first glance in the gospels. Perhaps I have been healed by Jesus, yet don’t understand what true healing really is, and still I keep asking. Perhaps true healing isn’t a restoration of body, but of soul.
Yes, perhaps there is more.
“She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” …But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:27-30, 33-34)
I find it interesting that Jesus deems it necessary to tell the diseased woman that she shall be healed, after her blood disorder has already dried up at the touch of his garment. Why repeat what is no longer needed?
Because the words that Jesus spoke were needed. The woman had not yet received true healing because the disease of sin still plagued her unclean soul.
We see this same lesson, a bit clearer, in Mark 2.
“And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:3-5)
Before the crumpled man on the bed could lift himself independently onto steady feet; before the chronically bleeding woman could run to shout of her cleansing; before the miraculous restoration of disintegrated bodies, Jesus heals the heart.
Jesus has power. Jesus forgives. And Jesus mends the deadly infectious disease plaguing every human: sin.
Hives may disappear. Bones may be strengthened. Cancer may vanish. And the dying may be raised.
But this cannot be my hope.
My hope must rest only in the true Healer who has already cured my soul from the rapidly breeding virus of sin that once threatened to send me hopelessly unclean to an eternal grave. It was Jesus’ sacrificial bleeding on the cross that covered my chronically greater disease of sin so that whether my hives remain or fade, I can know that by his wounds I HAVE been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
All Scripture from the ESV Bible
(Note: My bi-weekly article posting schedule begins today:)