Did all those miracles of healing reported in the Bible really happen? If you believe so, how did Jesus heal? Are people today using the many energy healing techniques available, doing something like what he did? What new understandings do we have about spiritual healing when we put all of this together? And what questions?
Unless your world view is completely materialistic and utterly mechanical, accounts of Jesus' healing powers inspire hope, especially if you or someone you love is dealing with a condition that medicine can't cure. In this and future articles, I will explore some connections between the reported miracles of Jesus and much that is happening in the field of holistic health.
Do you want to be healed?
Jesus' first healing miracle recorded in John, chapter 5, anticipated a basic therapeutic insight: nobody can help you if you don't want to be healed. He came across a man who had been sick for 38 years and had been lying around a magical healing pool in Jerusalem. People believed that an angel came and troubled the water from time to time, and if you waded in at that moment, you would be cured of all diseases. Jesus saw that the man had been there a long time and asked him, "Do you want to be healed?" The man complained that when the moment came, everyone went in ahead and no one helped him.
Excuses, excuses. Sound familiar? Waiting for somebody else to take care of you. Too depressed to get out of bed. Wishing for a miracle. Going to the workshop, the therapist, but not doing the work and then blaming everyone else because you're not better.
But why would anyone in their right mind not want to be healed? Dr. Bernie Siegal asked himself that question and uncovered the phenomenon of "secondary gain" in illness. We can get used to anything, even being sick. Getting well means changing everything. Sometimes people (or the government) take care of us when we're sick and we like that a lot. In my childhood, there were days when I feigned illness instead of going to school, because I knew my mother (who had 5children competing for her nurture) would give me special love, special food, special attention.
Woundology, says Dr. Carolyn Myss, from another angle. I am my disease. We identify with our illness so much that we don't have any other life, anything else to talk about. Like the man at the pool, in our very search for healing, we sometimes become experts on our disease and why nothing can cure it. I have seen people take offense at the suggestion that there might be a cure for what ails them. Myss' rule is you get to tell the story of your illness, problem, addiction, etc. and receive her sympathy three times. After that, she wants to know what you are doing about it, what responsibility you are taking.
Jesus challenged the lame excuses. "Stand up, take your mat and walk, " he said to the man paralyzed by his illness thereby the pool. It is not recorded how Jesus said that matter-of-factly or as a command or what else he might have been doing for the man with his energy or intention. All we know is the story says: "immediately the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk."
Today Dr. Laura likes to order her talk show callers to "Get over it!" Is that all you have to do? We know healing isn't that simple most of the time. Would that it were. I haven't been able to order anyone (except myself) to get well. What other factors are involved in miraculous healing?
How about the case of the woman who had been going to doctors for 18 years but who finally cured herself by reaching out and touching the hem of Jesus' robe. He told her "Your faith has made you well."
Gabrielle Chavez, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, is co-convenor of Christ the Healer UCC, an all-embracing Christian community which meets at 4150 SW Watson in Beaverton on Monday nights at 7. Issues of faith and healing will be discussed every Monday night through March and April in the community circle at Christ the Healer UCC. All are welcome.