Saturday, January 3, 2015

Why I still believe God heals


                                    By Ada Brownell

Christians often struggle with why some are healed and some are not. Many Christians are confused by that mystery and the church sometimes staggers under a spirit of unbelief.
I’ve entered that valley, too, but as a Christian and retired medical reporter, I still believe in miracles.
 My faith journey began as a child. My friend, Velda Jean Bailey, was stricken with leukemia. My brother-in-law told me about her condition.
      “The doctors say Velda Jean probably has only two or three weeks to live.”
A woman in my home church tearfully requested prayer for my friend.
A few days later, Velda’s grandfather had been praying with her when her mother saw a change come over her daughter.
“She looked as if new blood were going into her veins,” her mother recalled.
 Velda’s symptoms disappeared and the parents asked for new tests. Diagnostics revealed Velda was completely healed. She was alive the last I heard—25 years later.
 Our daughter, Gwen, didn’t need tubes surgically inserted into her ears after she went forward for prayer. Our youngest daughter Jeanette s elbow was healed so that it no longer slipped out of the joint.
Years later, our granddaughter, Melissa, suffered from croup,  Our son, Gary, and his wife, Janice, were moving and due to be in Tulsa, so they left anyway. Gary drove the truck and Janice followed in the car. I and Janice’s mother went to our knees in prayer.
Snow fell so fast as Janice followed the truck the windshield wipers wouldn’t work. Janice had to stick her head out the window in order to see, bringing the cold air in on Melissa and her little brother, Justin.
When they arrived in Tulsa safely, Janice called us.
“How is Melissa?” I asked.
“The croup is gone. She’s not sick anymore.”
I’d heard sometimes cool moist air helps chest congestion—but cure a fevered child with croup?
We’ve had numerous times when physicians thought a member of our family was in trouble physically. A few years ago, a medical test showed Gary had only 40 percent kidney function, but after prayer, a specialist found nothing wrong. Gary never had kidney problems again.
At about age 30, Gwen had symptoms of multiple sclerosis. After prayer and many tests, physicians said she was fine—and she is fine, 10 years later.
Our six younger grandchildren are miracles, and I believe it’s because God answers prayer. Complications during their mothers’ pregnancy could have endangered four of their lives or their future, but God intervened. Two other grandchildren came to us through the miracle of adoption.
With five children, and now grandchildren, we’ve had so many medical problems changed from serious to insignificant after prayer I can’t list them all. Yet, Carolyn, our oldest daughter, died at age 31 of an aggressive form of lymphoma, and our son, Jaron, has suffered from asthma since age 2. 
But I still believe for Jaron’s healing and know God heals. His health is improving, and in 2014 when doctors suspected he had leukemia because of constantly elevated white blood cell counts, when we prayed diligently, tests showed no leukemia and his blood became normal. 
I’ve been a student of the Bible almost all my life and although answers to why some are healed and some are not is a mystery, the Word explains a great deal about healing and miracles.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
1.            All humankind is destined to die because of sin. God told Adam and Eve if they ate of the forbidden tree, they would die. Satan, the liar, said, “You won’t die!  He just wants to keep something good from you!”  (my translation) Adam and Eve ate and became mortals. We, as their offspring, inherited the curse of sin. Read about it in Genesis 3.
            I like the way the King James Version explains in Romans 8:22 how our mortality affects us:  “We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
  1. Healing is in the atonement. Centuries before Jesus came Isaiah wrote, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5). Peter quoted the verses and said, “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
  2. Our Savior knows what is to suffer. They plucked his beard and tore flesh off His back for our healing. Yet, even before pain gripped His body, Jesus had compassion and healed many among the multitudes that followed Him.
3.            An atmosphere of doubt interferes with God’s Spirit working among us. Jesus Himself couldn’t do many miracles in Nazareth because of a spirit of unbelief (Matthew 13:57-58).  In Luke’s description of the Lord’s visit to His home town, Jesus told how many lepers in Israel needed healing, but only one—Naaman—was healed. The heavens were shut up to many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, but because of unbelief Elijah was sent to only one--the widow of Zarephath.
            It isn’t that Jesus doesn’t have the power for miracles among a throng of doubters, but we often absorb the unbelief.
4.            Our personal faith is affected by what our minds feed on. Romans 10:16-18 tells us faith comes through hearing the word of God. Much of the church today attends services an hour and a half a week. We complain about 45-minute sermons and have no time for prayer in the altars, but spend several hours each day watching TV and we’ll sit outside in a snow storm for three hours to watch a football game. Romans 8:1 (KJV) indicates when we allow our flesh to take charge of our minds; it interferes with walking after the Spirit.
5.    We build our faith remembering miracles God has done.  In every church and prayer group I’ve attended “these signs, including healing, have followed them that believe” (Mark 16:17). One time I was asked to speak about prayer to the youth group. Instead of speaking, I a half dozen people with testimonies of God’s intervention in a crisis.
             The father of a large family who worked on a highway crew urgently prayed because rain was forecast and he couldn’t work in the rain. Rain followed the paving machine all day, but it never rained where they worked.
             Several told of miraculous healings—two where doctors had given no hope. One woman told how God turned away a forest fire racing toward their house as she and the children stood at the window praying and repeating Psalm 91. I later wrote their testimonies for The Pentecostal Evangel in a story, “What Prayer Can Do.”
            Yet, a serious diagnosis such as cancer of the pancreas strikes faith-paralyzing fear.  I believe part of that is Satan’s “spin” on truth. Like every expert of propaganda, he uses a smidgeon of truth in his destructive lies. While treatments have advanced, cancer of the pancreas has meant almost certain death. But Gospel Singer Jimmy Blackwood, son of James Blackwood, was healed of pancreatic cancer in 1984. I interviewed him about it for the newspaper where I worked. Jimmy is still singing.
6.    We have a drought of God’s power because we don’t seek the Gifts of healing, faith and miracles. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard people praying for, seeking after, and having hands laid on them to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. God gives the Gifts to those for whom He has a specific purpose but He also tells us to ask for them (1 Corinthians 12). Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
7.    Lack of fasting and prayer affects spiritual outcomes. In Ezra’s time they fasted and prayed for God’s protection over their families (Ezra 8:20-22). The disciples couldn’t cast out demons because they didn’t fast and pray before they went out (Matthew 17:20-22). We’re told God is able to do more than we can ask or think, but it is according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:19-21). According to the Word, prayer and fasting increases that power.
8.    Although we know our sin doesn’t cause most sicknesses, sin could cause us to be sick or even die. Paul wrote, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judge ourselves, we would not come under judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:29--31).
When, however, some people witnessed the healing of a blind man and asked who sinned, the man or his parents, Jesus said, “Neither, but that the works of God might be revealed in him” (John 9:1-3).
9.    Some people aren’t healed or delivered because of “the greater good.” For instance, when our oldest daughter was near death from cancer she left a witness. Four people gave their lives to Christ and others recommitted themselves to God. When people experience a death close to them, they realize their own mortality and the need of a Savior.
  1.  Often God uses faith and works and we should give Him credit for these miracles. James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claim to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? … Faith, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:14-16). I was prayed for several times because of knee pain. When I had knee replacements, the pain disappeared. Medications along with God’s mercy have helped Jaron live triumphantly with asthma for 40 years. I consider that a gift from God.
             I believe the knowledge of physicians today is given by the Lord and furthermore, it is a sign of Christ’s coming. God told Daniel,  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).
            On the medical beat at the newspaper where I worked, over and over I was told how physicians couldn’t do much for diseases and medical conditions until the 20th Century. The most important things that changed health and longevity, according to physicians I’ve interviewed, are clean water, immunizations and antibiotics—but God also has given wisdom for marvelous diagnostics, medications, and treatments.

  1. Sometimes healing doesn’t come because we’re being tested, as Job was.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7NKJ).
  1.  God’s sovereignty means He always has the last word. God has the last word in everything, including how many days we live. We have promises all over the Bible about healing which we can grasp and believe, but we have to put the whole Bible together for correct doctrine.  It should give us comfort, and not fear, to know everything is in His hands. “This is the assurance that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
            But His “last words” to His children always are words of love (See John 3:16).
Note: An edited version of this article appeared in the summer 2013 online edition of Enrichment Magazine.