Stories of Healing

Over the past three years many have shared stories with me about people who have experienced miraculous healing from life threatening illnesses. Certainly these stories provide elements of encouragement and paint a picture of our good God of healing. Certainly, we hear these stories and rejoice over what God has done.

But this is not the outcome of every story. For every story of healing, there are dozens of stories of loss, grief, sorrow, and brokenness. For every prayer that God answers with a “Yes,” there are dozens where his answer is “No.” What about those stories? Is God still good? Does God still heal?

Absolutely. And those stories need to be told.

My good and powerful God is a God of eternal healing. He never fails. He’s always faithful. He’s always good. He is the good, perfect father, who protects his children. He redeems us. He clothes us in righteousness. He adopts us. He seals us. He guides us. He forgives us. He preserves us until he takes us Home.

Home. Where we are eternally healed. Where we are healed not merely physically, but spiritually. No more brokenness, no more sin, no more flesh.

And so, here I am, thinking deeply about how I need to redefine words like healing and good. If we only talk about those words in the stories of physical healing and prosperity here on earth, we are in danger of distorting the character of God. We are in danger of allowing our circumstances dictate who He is. We are in danger of experiencing despair, hopelessness, and bitterness when our stories don’t end the according to our own definitions of good.IMG_6502

The beginning portion of this I wrote just three days before my Dad went home to be with Jesus. Now three weeks later I write with a grieving heart full of sorrow inexpressible by words.

But by God’s grace I genuinely still affirm, God is good. God heals.

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Dignity and Courage

dad and BobbiIn the aftermath of my father’s death, I was reading through several journal entries. I wrote this one in response to the recent buzz about the “Death with Dignity” movement. I wanted to share Dad’s story of dignity and courage as he tirelessly fought his own battle with cancer. We had this printed in the programs at his memorial service:

Dignity and Courage

Courage is waking up in the morning and choosing to live another day, not because he feels he has the right to make that choice, but because he knows his Creator has given him another breath to breathe for the glory of His kingdom.

He breathes each breath with dignity because he knows they bear eternal value.

Courage is fighting to take those breaths despite the pain that accompanies each one.

Courage is waking up to a day full of unknowns, and dignity is facing them with a quiet peace in knowing the God who is ultimately in control of them all.

Courage is enduring days, months and years worth of doctors’ appointments, tests, and treatments, most of which yield unfavorable results, but he faces them with dignity knowing his fate isn’t actually in the hand of the human doctors, but in the hand of an omnibenevolent, sovereign God whom he knows personally, intimately. 

Courage and dignity mean fighting for life, though it is painful, exhausting, and uncomfortable, because he knows there is more to life than comfort. He fights because he loves his family and he serves them with words of truth, moments of laughter, and a heart full of love during these days that he counts as gifts from God.

Dignity is indeed treating each day as a gift and mindfully cherishing and using those gifts in ways that attest to the reality that there is a God and He is good even in the gravest of circumstances.

Dignity is thanking God for the cancer that will eventually take his life because he knows that through this trial, many will come to a saving knowledge of God’s Son, the one who gave His life so that we may be offered eternal life.

Courage is moving forward because of the realities of salvation, redemption, and glorification.

Courage and dignity are accompanied by a third element, essential for being able to live this kind of life: Hope

Not a hope that crosses its fingers and wonders, but a hope that knows. A hope that knows God has already ordained when he will take his last breath, immediately followed by his first breath of eternal life.

Hope that knows God has the power to heal his cancer here on earth, but also knows of a far better healing that takes place in eternity.

A hope that knows he will one day be face to face with his Savior and be able to engage in worship in its purest form, completely free of the curse of sin. That glorious day, his faith will become sight, and he will know it was worth it. It was worth the fight. It was worth living with courage.

This is death with dignity.

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