New Healing

In preparation for Sundays, there are weeks when I struggle to find a message to preach and then other weeks it is difficult to discern the message because there is a wealth of material and possible directions. This week, I could have easily prepared multiple sermon messages on each of our scriptures.

But, there is a concept that continued to stay with me and it is being healed or healing. We are familiar with the term ‘healing’, but we tend to confuse it with being ‘cured’. There is a difference between being ‘cured’ and being ‘healed’. When one is cured the aliment has been eradicated or removed and thus is not present, while healing does not necessarily require that the illness/trauma is gone or the situation is done (ex. after a cut is ‘healed’ a scar remains).

This difference might be a challenging concept, but I have a few examples to demonstrate.

Highlander, my dog, is diabetic. Yes, dogs can be diabetic.

Will he be “cured” of his diabetes?
No. He will be diabetic for the rest of his life.

Is he being “healed”?
Yes. He receives insulin twice daily. Since beginning the insulin, he is back to his crazy ‘old’ self.
Thus, Highlander is not cured but is healing as there has been restoration to his well-being.

In our time and place, we focus on the “cure” and often ignore the “healing”.

We tend to think that all our illness, traumas, and situations can be easily solved by our own efforts whether it is going to a doctor/counselor, taking medicine, OR by praying hard enough. We have all heard ‘if you pray hard enough…’ or ‘if you believe enough…’, right?

Here is another example. When I was sixteen or seventeen years old, my godfather told me that if I prayed hard enough I would be healed/cured from endometriosis (and other female reproductive illnesses). I would one day awaken to Jesus standing beside my bed in all His brilliance. Jesus would tell me to pray with my godfather and afterwards all my medical illnesses would be resolved and I would be healed/cured.

Thankfully, I am Lutheran because when I was not cured and had a hysterectomy at twenty-three years of age my foundation of faith would have been destroyed thinking it was because I did not pray hard enough.

I was ultimately cured. I was physically healed. However, the process of healing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually was a significant process.

Note: March (this month) is Endometriosis Awareness Month.

There is a difference between cured and healed.

We, humanity, seem to always envision of being healed as a restoration to our physical health. Yet, when we are facing our own mortality/death that ‘healing’ can be a peace of mind and a peace in the heart that goes beyond our own strength and understanding. That is a restoration of mental and spiritual health.

In Numbers (21: 4-9), the people of Israel are physically healed from the bites of poisonous snakes. Moses fashions a bronze snake upon a pole for those afflicted to look upon for healing. {The Israelites just needed Saint Patrick, since he freed Ireland from poisonous snakes – mandatory St. Patrick’s Day joke}.

In John (3: 14-21), we have reference to another ‘healing’. Jesus shares about being lifted up on the cross for the sake of the world. While it is re-enforced in John 12, Jesus shares that ‘when the Son of Man (himself) is lifted up, he will draw all people into himself’.

This week, I pondered a couple of songs. The first is a relatively new song by Luke Bryan entitled Most People are Good. This section summaries how I often feel in this time and place.

I believe those streets of gold are worth the work
but I’d still want to go if they were paved in dirt.
I believe that youth is spent well on the young
because wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun.
I believe if you just go by the nightly news
your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you would lose.

I believe that most people are good
and most mamas ought to qualify for sainthood.
I believe most Friday nights look better
under a neon or stadium lights.
I believe you love who you love
ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of.
I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks.
I believe most people are good.

How often do we see the sin, the sickness/illness, and trauma of our world on the nightly news?

How hard is it to cling to HEALING for, in, and among such darkness?

The second is a Garth Brooks song (I warned you all that I am a Garth-olic). It was essentially his first upon returning to the studio and the stage on tour; it is entitled People Loving People.

Doctor, you ain’t got a pill
for whatever is making this world ill.
You can’t get forgiveness at the store
and peace, its a politician’s war.
You won’t find no resolution in the bottom of a bottle,
in the stars, or Aristotle.
The only answer to the problem is

People loving people,
that’s the enemy of everything thats evil
ain’t no quick fix at the end of a needle
its just people loving people.

Words aren’t what they seem to be.
Talk is cheap and lies are free.
We fear what we don’t understand
and we’ve been scared since time began.
All the colors and the cultures
circle ‘round us on a spindle.
It’s a complicated riddle
but the solution is so simple.

Its people loving people.
Thats the enemy of everything thats evil.
Ain’t no quick fix at the end of a needle.
Its just people loving people.

You can pawn it off on kings and queens
and those behind the curtain,
say one can’t make a difference
in a world so full of hurting,
but I believe the remedy
starts right here with you and me:

People loving people.
That’s the enemy of everything that’s evil.
Ain’t no quick fix at the end of a needle.
Its just people loving people.

When I was little (little, little) and would be at my aunt and uncle’s house, if you had ANYTHING wrong from a headache, to a stomach ache, or not feeling well, my aunt had these ‘magical’ little blue pills. These pills cured all your illnesses. As I got older, I realized these ‘magical’ pills were Smurf vitamins… but when I was little these pills resolved EVERYTHING.

If we are honest, we are all still looking for such a ‘magical’ pill for our lives and our world. Although it does not exist, like Garth Brooks sings, there is a relatively easy answer to the riddle. It is Love.

Love. The most significate example of love is the love of God/Christ and its light. We bear witness to this love through the life, teachings, and ministry of God incarnate in human bone and flesh (Christ). We bear witness to that love when Christ, like a bronze serpent in the wilderness, endured the passion to be lifted up on the cross in his crucifixion and death for the sake of ALL people.

May we keep Christ and His cross before us as we go out into the world. Amen.

Scriptures were Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, and John 3:14-21.
Originally preached on March 11, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, IN).

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