Tracee wrote a beautiful guest post at Living the Lyrics about the ten lepers Jesus healed and the one with a grateful heart who came back to say thank you. (Luke 17:11-19) She brought up a point that, even though not the focus of her thoughts, I had never considered as many times as I have read this story.
When He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they were going, they were cleansed. v.14
Jesus didn't immediately heal the lepers. They could not see their healing in the beginning. Their healing began after. After they took the first step. After they obeyed His instructions. Knowing the stories of Jesus did they have enough faith to turn and go as he said? Did they begin to wonder at first if they would be healed when immediate healing wasn't visible?
for we walk by faith, not by sight-- (2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB)
Much can be said about the one who came back to give thanks that would apply to my one word for 2011, but this other aspect of the story struck me.
How often do we pray for healing? Physical or emotional healing for ourselves?
I cannot begin to understand or explain why God chooses to heal some and not others of physical diseases. Why are there those who deal with chronic diseases stealing life and often joy? I do not want to minimize those by giving the cliche answers we have all heard from well meaning Christians.
Please don't misunderstand me on this either. I am certainly not saying that those who do not experience healing are disobeying. The story of Job proves that difficulties come even to those who are "blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." (Job 1:1 NASB)
My first thoughts, though, when reading the passage in Luke went to emotional healing.
We all bear emotional scars in some way. The loss of a parent at a young age. A friendship that dissolves due to misunderstanding and hurt feelings. Divorce. Absentee parents. The death of a child or other loved one. The lasting effects of being bullied and never fitting in as a teen. Abuse in indescribable ways. Many situations trigger severe depression and need professional help and counseling.
I wonder, though, if we wear our emotional scars as a leprosy of sorts? We build walls around our hearts so no one can hurt us again. We remain at a distance from the gates of those who want to help us heal. Those who God sends to help us heal.
We pray for healing, for our hearts to feel joy, happiness. We walk through grief. We may hope for retribution when we are hurt. How often are we frustrated when our hearts do not immediately heal?
We must go and "show ourselves to the priest." The lepers turned and took that step. We must make the first step no matter the situation. Often times the first step may simply be winding the clock. Going through the motions of our every day. Maybe it means forgiveness. Daily, sometimes hourly, seeking God to help you forgive the one who caused you such pain. Seeking professional help through a counselor or doctor might be the first step.
Whatever the first step is does not mean the healing will happen immediately.
Pain often accompanies healing. It is a process. A process by definition requires steps. It requires time. Perhaps more time than we imagine or want.
As we take the first step we may not see healing. But if we show ourselves willing, if we have faith and seek, as we are going, healing will begin.
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.' (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NASB)