You think there’s ever a church service where requests are not made for someone’s healing? I cannot recall a service at Southside where prayers for the sick were not requested. Max Lucado, in case you have not already guessed is a very favorite author of mine. 😊 One of his books is titled “before amen, The Power of a Simple Prayer”. In case you are wondering, that’s not a misspelling.
Chapter 5’s title is “Heal Me”. He opens the chapter by describing a daughter’s journal giving an account of her dying father’s final stages of ALS. Her journal is full of depictions of the many things “Dad can’t anymore.” At her father’s funeral, the family requested two scriptures, Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, and so I lack nothing.” and Psalm 22: “My God, My God!....Why have you forsaken me?” Max says in his Bible you can see both passages in the same page opening.
Max continues: “In times of sickness we can hear both prayers from the same heart. Our bodies ache and emotions sway. Nothing bends our knees to ask for God’s help more than a health crisis. We need the Lord to shepherd us through sickness. “But will he?” We watch as our loved ones or we ourselves suffer and struggle while the evil ones live into triple digits.
Max writes about Jesus healing people even raising some from the dead as He traveled. Max goes on: “Afflictions can sideline the sufferer. Everyone else has a place in the parade. You would join them if only….. Others seem happy. And you’ve wondered, What am I to do with this ailment?”
People in the New Testament cried out to Jesus for healing. “Persistently, personally, passionately. I need help. Heal me. Here is why you need to do the same. God’s goal for you is wholeness.” (From Mike: Then why does He not give it? My attitude problem!)
Max points out: “God envisions a complete restoration of the garden of Eden. Everything He saw in His garden was good. This assessment included Adam and Eve. They weren’t sick, crippled, depressed or afflicted. They were spiritually and physically sound. Yet they rebelled, everything fell out of harmony. The event is called the Fall for a reason. Adam and Eve had a falling out with God and a falling out with each other. Nature fell out of whack, and the human body fell out of balance. The fall was exactly that: a fall from wholeness. Sin opened the door, and sickness walked in. ‘Sin came into the world because of what one man did and with sin came death. This is why everyone must die—because everyone sinned.’ Romans 5:12 NCV”
Max urges us to talk to God about our ailments both physical and emotional. “He will heal you—instantly or gradually or ultimately.
“Our highest hope, however, is our ultimate healing. In heaven God will restore our bodies to their intended splendor. ‘We know that when He is revealed , we shall be like Him’ 1 John 3:2’”.
“If Jesus heals you instantly, praise Him. If you are still waiting for healing, trust Him. Your suffering is your sermon.”
Max writes about a friend who struggled with a muscular condition. The atrophy hampered his ability to walk and slurred his speech. “But it did not diminish his faith or erase his smile.” God is using his friend’s faith to inspire other’s faith. “He will use your struggle to change others.”
He tells about his own struggles with pain in his writing hand. He continues in therapy and says “But most of all I pray. Better said, I argue. Shouldn’t God heal my hand? My pen is my tool. Writing is my assignment. So far He hasn’t healed me.”
“Or has He? These days I pray more as I write. Not eloquent prayers but honest ones. Lord I need help…Father, my hand is stiff. The discomfort humbles me. I’m not Max the author. I’m Max, the guy whose hand is wearing out. I want God to heal my hand. Thus far He has used my hand to heal my heart.”
Max writes about the blind men who asked Jesus to heal their eyes. “Jesus’ heart went out to the blind men. He ‘had compassion and touched their eyes.’ The Greek term means He felt for them deep down inside Hie stomach. Jesus moved in where others had stepped away. He healed them.”
“He will heal you, my friend. I pray He heals you instantly. He may choose to heal you gradually. But this much is sure: Jesus will heal us all ultimately. Wheelchairs, ointments, treatments, and bandages are confiscated at the gateway of heaven. God’s children will once again be whole.”
I believe Max’s words can ease our pain and struggling but they do not eliminate all of the hurt. Only continued faith and prayer can help with that. I don’t really subscribe that time will heal all wounds.
before amen – Max Lucado – 2014 – Thomas Nelson – Used by permission
Max is now 67 years old and has health problems like many of us. In October 2001 he was diagnosed with ascending aortic aneurysm. He praises God because he is doing well. Wonder if he rereads some of his writings when he faces illness?