From HOPE FOR THE CAREGIVER:
Many people living with chronic suffering know from experience that some churches can be hazardous to your faith. The hurting who seek comfort in churches may often encounter those often pounce on those faced with affliction. Brandishing the “Sword of the Spirit” like an axe, these individuals bludgeon those who are already badly bruised. Admonishments such as, “If you had enough faith, Jesus would heal you,” are not uncommon directives from those poorly educated in biblical teaching: these individuals suffer from a lack of understanding and compassion.
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In days past, such doctrinal beliefs and behaviors remained somewhat contained to church circles. Today, however, that message blasts forth on twenty-four-hour cable, social media, and every other type of communication method (some worldwide). And, there seems to be no shortage in mass-media messages promising the next “breakthrough” to those who subscribe to a particular ministry’s teachings.
Flipping channels one evening, I happened upon a broadcast of a prominent television evangelist who earned international fame by reporting miraculous healings. Ignoring the carnival-esque atmosphere of the event, my eyes immediately fixed upon the glasses perched on the preacher’s nose. Wait a minute, I thought to myself. Doesn’t this guy believe that God will heal his poor vision?
Do minor sufferings such as age-impacted eyesight not qualify for those who bill themselves as having an “anointing-for-healing” ministry?
How much suffering is acceptable before traveling to a sawdust-floored tent to hear a man in a white suit pronounce a cure for maladies? To be fair, the tents-and-sawdust shows are now mostly a thing of the past. As the money has rolled in, the new venues-of- choice are indoor arenas with state-of-the-art sound systems and lighting.
For those who suffer, the dangling carrot of healing is almost tortuous in itself.
The topic of miraculous healing continues to be a flash- point for people in and out of the church. Of course, the Bible contains many descriptions of healing, prosperity, and comfort. But, a segment of Christianity has hijacked those verses and positioned themselves as authorities on God’s provision in relation to the sufferings of this world. The cartoonish behavior of some preachers often serves as fodder for comedians, but there are serious consequences. For those who suffer, the dangling carrot of healing is almost tortuous in itself.
“Maybe faith healers don’t work in hospitals for the same reason you don’t see psychics winning the lottery.” —unknown
Hurting souls often twist themselves into emotional, spiritual, and financial pretzels as they chase the rainbow of relief. Because they are desperate for healing, sufferers may believe that donating money to a particular ministry is a small price to pay for the alluring offer of God’s miraculous provisions. As recently as last week, I heard one well-known minister proclaim on national television that viewers should contribute to his organization because, “God can’t work a miracle on our behalf unless we act on faith.”
Is that how God works? Is that how the King of kings and Lord of lords ministers to His followers? Should we offer an earnest prayer before plopping down “seed faith” or scratching a Powerball ticket?
When someone we love suffers, we try to help in any way possible. Four friends of a paralytic tore up a roof in order to lower a man down to Jesus while He preached in a crowded house.
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. Mark 2:4
Since God created us in His own image, would reason not dictate that He feels compassion on an even greater scale than we do?
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. Psalm 116:5
There is no question that suffering matters to God. How could it not? The Bible gives many examples of the human condition moving God’s heart. The Cross stands alone as God’s complete and total response to the broken estate of humanity. Furthermore, Scripture teaches that we should continually pray for those afflicted. Clearly, God would not place such directives if He planned to ignore the requests.
Yet it often seems as if our Father remains silent during agonizing days, months, years, or in my family’s case— decades. My heart breaks for those who flock to individuals who preach a “rescue you from bad situations” message. I understand the appeal, and I have struggled with the desperation that drives someone to a “miracle crusade.” Without any embarrassment, I admit dragging Gracie to a few of those miracle services. Walk a mile in her prosthetic legs before offering criticism.
One can only wait for a rescue for so long, before realizing that a life must be lived, even in dire circumstances.
Living with desperation for this long, however, the panic of finding a solution starts to become tedious. One can only wait for a rescue for so long, before realizing that a life must be lived. Even in dire circumstances. After decades of serving as a “wanna-be-roof-demolisher,” I have also heard every type of sales pitch from those who promise relief, often while they fail to see the glaring inconsistency—sometimes perched upon their noses.
“God does heal. I state that on faith, after almost three decades as a caregiver”
God does heal. I state that on faith, after almost three decades as a caregiver—while daily watching Gracie’s struggles. I also remain convinced that the resurrection of Christ from the dead trumps any and all miracles. That one event indicates a power sufficient to deal with amputation, pain, and any other calamity. Remaining the bedrock of my faith, the Cross and the Resurrection continue placing the heartache and grief into perspective. That conviction is why I feel so passionately about encouraging others to plant themselves in a good church home. And I encourage folks to steer clear of poorly informed folks whose proclamations and advice do more harm than good.
Our strength, our faith, our human connections, and our general well-being improve by attending church. But we must also learn how to respond to those who opine regarding our loved one’s condition. Don’t feel the need to correct people who consider themselves “instant experts” on the suffering your loved one endures. They don’t know better; it’s their problem not yours. If, however, your pastor is the one making you feel uncomfortable, find another church.
You’re not obligated to listen to ridiculous statements or preposterous propositions. That applies double if those proclamations are made by self-promoters or their acolytes who quote the Bible. In Matthew 7:15, warns of such individuals. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (ESV).
Trying to explain sense to non-sense is simply not worth it. We can walk away, even while pushing our loved one’s wheelchair, without the need to correct others, without feeling guilty—and without feeling rejected by God.
Mobility Message Ministry
Standing With Hope has two program areas:
Both of these programs have the single goal of equipping broken and hurting individuals to stand with hope in Jesus Christ.
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