Today we continue our series unpacking a current snapshot of my personal theological understandings. This series of posts again is an extension of my own discovery and thoughts created by taking the a class with the Discourse series. For a refresher on the series, and for links to all the posts in this series, please visit the introductory post. As has been the practice in the series, I will indent that which I presented and shared with the class. Following the indented beliefs, I will offer a longer reflection about my thoughts and beliefs above that is unique to this blog. The last post in the series was “God envisions,” and today we contemplate what it means that “God Heals.”
God heals the broken; the hurt; the sick and weary; the displaced; the oppressed; and all those in need.
God’s healing acts can be seen in any act that positively restores creation, mends and restores relationships and reconciles people together in community.
Any positive change such as an end to oppression and hate, I believe are products and signs of God’s healing.
As to how God’s healing occurs, I believe this is ultimately mysterious. However, I do believe it can come through prayer, our communities, the service of people together, and other things, but it is ultimately up to God.
I think its pretty straightforward that if we believe that God is active in the world and as I have said previously, present in the world, that it makes sense that God heals. This healing can come in community through the mending and restoration of relationships. It can come by creating and bringing people together into community. It can also come in perhaps more tangible and visible ways such as through the sick being made well, the oppressed freed, the outcast (like in the story of the Gerasene Demoniac pictured above, and found for example in Luke 8:26-39) welcomed and visited, and broken uplifted, etc. Really, I don’t think there is any limit to what God’s healing can look like.
If you are looking for something substantial and/or earth shattering in my theological understanding of God’s healing, I’m sorry you are probably not going to find it. I am too comfortable with leaving how God’s healing can occur and does occur up to the beautiful mystery of God. I believe this is an area which we can see glimpses of God’s work in, but perhaps our comprehension of such work is lacking. I do believe that communities, prayer, the service of people and other things can bring about God’s healing. But, I also believe that God can use any means really that God sees fit.
In terms of my own understanding of God’s healing, this has shifted a bit over the years. When my brother came out to me in the spring of 2011, I had an “ah-ha” moment. Up to this point in my life, I had just understood healing in terms of the “other.” Meaning, I was focused on working for the healing of others in the areas of poverty, hunger, etc. But, in that spring of 2011 it occurred to me that healing had to occur also much more locally, even in my own self and family and friend groups. No longer would I be advocating for others just because it’s the right thing to do. Now, I would be doing so in part, because of the love of and for my brother. No longer was I just looking at challenges and brokenness in the systems of the world and society as a student and practitioner, but as one with a much deeper relationship. This was an important shift for me to see the great magnitude needed of and for healing in the world. In part, because of this, I believe that through every deep and important conversation, comes a glimpse of God’s healing. Conversation creates thoughts, shares perspectives, raises awareness, and opens doors for discovery, innovation, potential and hopefully healing. Perhaps the most healing that I can do, starts by entering into or facilitating conversations in safe and respectful ways?
This is obviously one of the main learning and growing edges of my theological understanding. It hits me now though as write this, in the Discourse:God series, “God Forgives” isn’t one of the main areas of focus. Perhaps within healing, there might be room for reflecting on the idea that God forgives? Because as a pastor friend Brian Mundt has said, “living unforgiven- isn’t living.” What do you think about this idea and connection to God’s healing?
In terms of music, hymns, and worship songs that come to mind which paint pictures of God’s healing include the spiritual “There is a Balm in Gilead,” and the more contemporary praise song, “Mourning into Dancing.” The spiritual “There is a Balm in Gilead” has this moving refrain, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” This spiritual I think begins to connect the idea of healing and forgiveness that I began to briefly wonder about. “Mourning into Dancing,” by Tommy Walker is a song of rejoice seemingly based in part on images found in Jeremiah 31:13, Lamentations 5:15, and Revelation 21:4. The text of the song includes:
“You’ve turned my mourning into dancing again, you’ve lifted my sorrows; and I can’t stay silent, I must sing for your joy has come. Where there once was only hurt, you gave your healing hand; where there once was only pain, you brought comfort like a friend. And I feel the sweetness of your love piercing my darkness; and I see the bright and morning sun as it ushers in your joyful gladness…”
It’s just beautiful text, upbeat, and its really hard not to sing that song and start dancing. There are plenty of hymns that speak of God’s healing. What are some of your favorites?
So, what do you think it means that “God heals?” I look forward to hearing your thoughts and engaging in our continued conversation. The next and final post in the series will be “God Relates.”
Image Credit: The Gerasene Demonic
“There Is a Balm in Gilead,” African American spiritual, Public Domain, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 614.
Tommy Walker, “Mourning into Dancing,” (Integrity’s Praise! Music), (Brentwood, TN: EMI Christian Music Publishing, 1992), CCLI Song #836046, found in Worship & Praise Songbook, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1999), 99.