1 - The Lord Who Heals
Psalm 103:1-5; Isaiah 53:4-6
Always read the passages before you begin the devotional reflection.
What’s gone wrong? A lot has gone wrong! No, that is not saying enough. Everything has gone wrong! All things are broken, damaged, hurting, and messy. Last week’s theme was renewal. This week you will focus on healing.
While they are closely related, they are different. The Jews had the idea of Tikkun Olam: Repair the World, Heal the World. The world is broken – it needs to be repaired. The world is hurting – it needs to be healed.
When you hurt, you need healing. When your soul is aching, your spirit needs healing. When your heart is heavy with sadness, discouragement, anxiety, or anger, your emotions need healing. When your relationships are difficult and full of pain, you need relational healing. When your body is hurt, sick, diseased, and broken, you need physical healing. When your thoughts are out of control in unhealthy ways, your mind needs healing.
But it is not only individuals who need to be healed. Relationships need healing. Systems need healing. Organizations need it. A culture needs it. An entire nation may be in need of healing.
One of the titles for God in the Old Testament is Jehovah Rapha – the Lord Who Heals (Exodus 15:26). The Messianic Era would bring with it healing (Micah 4:2). Jesus launched his ministry with remarkable displays of healing (Matthew 4:23-25). Jesus’ self-identity was that of a physician (Mark 2:17; Luke 4:23). The early church set aside time for the ministry of healing (James 5:13-16). Humanity has always needed healing. Healing is What the World Still Needs – Right Now.
REFLECT: What have been your own experiences of suffering, sickness, and healing? What about times of not receiving the healing you long for?
NOTICE: Who are the people around you who are in need of healing? What do you see around you in the world that needs healing?
PRAY: All day and all week, every time you see the need for healing, offer a prayer to Jesus, that he would bring healing.
2 - Jesus Our Healer
Mark 1:29-34, 40-45; 5:21-43; 10:46-52
Not only is God Jehovah Rapha (the Lord Who Heals), Jesus is Messiah Rapha – the Messiah Who Heals.
Cancer, diabetes, mental illness, depression, old age, the flu, broken bones, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, genetic disorders, alcohol and drug addictions, STDs, the infirmities of old age, and eventually death – none of this was ever meant to be. It is all the result of the fall into sin.
Jesus came to forgive sin, heal sickness, cast out demons, defeat evil, and vanquish death. He did it all. He is Christ the Victorious over all the enemies of humanity. So even though we still walk through valleys of the shadow of death we fear no evil, for the Lord of Life is with us.
The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus healing people of a wide diversity of sickness and disease. The Scripture selections for today are a few of the stories from just one Gospel. Today’s devotional is designed for you to gain familiarity with the healing ministry of Jesus.
STUDY: Read and study the healing stories. What are the lessons learned and the insights gained about the healing ministry of Jesus?
CREATE: If you were going to teach a lesson on the healing ministry of Jesus or lead a small-group study, what are the four or five most important ideas you would teach about the healing ministry of Jesus?
PRAY: Remember, Jesus is your Healer too. Pray to him for all your needs, listen for his voice, trust him as he works in your life.
PRAY: Keep praying for the healing of other people. Who are you praying for in particular?
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”
3 - Already and Not Yet
We introduced the reality of the Kingdom of God already breaking into human existence, and the Kingdom of God is not yet fully here. We live in the in-between times. That creates tension and questions. It creates angst and, at the same time, it opens the way for trust, faith, hope, courage, and love.
At Living Word, we DO NOT hold to the Prosperity Teaching. That teaching simply says it is always God’s will in every instance for you to be completely healed, never suffering, always rich, and never inconvenienced. And if you have faith you will receive all of this. That teaching also says that if you have sin or doubt, you will not receive what God is waiting to give. That is a distortion of the biblical teaching. It is not the Gospel.
At Living Word, we DO hold to the Way of Flourishing. Flourishing means you receive and enjoy the supernatural, abundant, real, eternal, more and better life of Jesus. With that quality of life you can do all things. You can even endure and persevere when your needs are not met (Philippians 3:10-13). You have the ability to go through hard times (2 Corinthians 11:21-29). Don’t be too alarmed. Paul’s suffering was extreme. To even carry the cross and deny self implies the need for sacrifice, surrender, and trust (Luke 9:23).
That is the tension. We already receive so many of the blessings of grace and love, but we have not received all of them. And we have not received any of them to their full degree.
So we wait. We wait patiently. We wait with faith. We wait with anticipation. We wait with groaning and longing.
STUDY: Hebrews 11 is a remarkably balanced passage. It illustrates faith that accomplishes miracles and faith that does not receive what it looked for, but is commended and praised by God. Perhaps that is the greatest faith – a faith that remains strong even when what is hoped for is not received.
REFLECT: What are you waiting for, hoping for, and praying for that has not been granted? How is your faith doing? How are you doing?
REFLECT: Will you continue to follow Jesus with joy and love if you do not receive the healing you pray for? What will you need to help you live faithfully even when you don’t receive what you look for?
PRAY: Continue, always, to pray in faith for the healing the world needs now.
4 - A Generous Presence for Others
2 Corinthians 1:1-7
The ministry of healing is a ministry of compassion. It is a ministry of giving time, attention, care, support, and encouragement. It is a ministry of walking alongside others who are in pain, who suffer and struggle, and who can’t do life on their own.
The Church (at times) has had a stellar and beautiful engagement of compassion and care for those who hurt. In fact, this has led to launchingendless ministries of compassion. I was recently skimming through a biography of the great social reformer William Wilberforce. He was positioned for political action and reform in a way that most of us are not. He worked for the transformation of society at the highest levels of government. He made this his life work, really, his life battle. For it was a battle – an uphill battle.
For most of us (probably 95% or more) we take a different pathway for helping those who suffer. We will take personal action at local levels.
We will volunteer at a food bank and feed the hungry. We will mentor a child or teen in need. We will help out with a home repair project with Servants. We will serve at the food kitchen at LifePath. We will open our homes to take care of those in crisis. We will visit those in the hospital and nursing homes. We will give extra attention to widows and single moms. We will be comforting listeners to those who are in pain. We will be a part of the Christmas Eve offering. We will build friendships with those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds than our own and share in their stories. We will always seek to do no harm to others. We will always be full of empathy and sympathy. We will resist giving simplistic answers, shallow prayers, and bad spiritual advice. We will…
REFLECT: In what ways are you a generous presence for those who are hurting, in pain, and going through times of difficulty and struggle?
TAKE ACTION: Is there a new step and a next step Jesus wants you to take to be a generous presence for another person? Or is there a ministry of compassion you will visit and help out? Be sure to connect with John Hilliard firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about opportunities.
5 - Wounded Healers2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Maybe you’ve heard the concept that the way of Jesus is to be a wounded healer for others. But what does this mean? Simply put,wounded healers offer their hurts to help others receive comfort and encouragement. They share in the sufferings of Christ and they share with other people the comfort of Christ.
Quick story. This past Sunday, I walked by two individuals—both Christ followers—who were in conversation together. I kept walking, but my mind was spinning as I noticed them. As their pastor, I knew the immensesuffering each of these people had experienced this past year. Both have suffered through tragedy. But I also knew that they are very privatepeople who don’t normally share their struggles with others. So, Iwondered how they knew each other, and what they may be talking about.
Later, after the service, I saw one of them and expressed my “pastoral curiosity.” I was told a magnificent story about how they didn’t know one another, but a mutual friend from one of their small groups had connected them. And for the next several minutes—through tears—I heard how God had beautifully ministered his grace to each of them through their healing conversations. They were being wounded healers to each other. I call them “crushed comforters.” This happens all the time at Living Word. We want to see it happen even more.
Being a wounded healer starts with a deepening self-awareness of our own personal struggles and receiving empathy—tender-hearted understanding and compassionate support—from God and otherpeople. Then, being filled with love, we can overflow with love to others (1 John 4:19) so they know they are not alone.
READ AND REFLECT: Yesterday’s reading (2 Corinthians 1:1-7) could be called Paul’s “Wounded Healer Manifesto.” And later, in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, Paul beautifully describes how God brings healing through our painful wounds and hurts. Take a few minutes to read over this passage.
Paul goes on to describe some really tough things he has lived through, which have made him so rely on “the God who raised Jesus from the dead,” that he was able to get up and provide comfort to others who needed it.
And sometimes it is as though the only way our gracious God can enable this strange alchemy of human comfort to work is by allowing those he will call to be comforters to be desolate themselves, so that they can sit and weep alongside the desolate, and help them through to consolation.
- Songs We Sing
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