Saturday, November 14, 2009

Healed Without Scars -- or not

I recently heard a Pentecostal preacher say something about how we Charismatic types tend to look for the "short cuts" in life. We love to sing, preach and talk about how God blessed us some way, and too often in the last few decades this has become a conversation about how we can live in a spritual paradise of perfection (my words) and we can have what we say, live in total health, be blessed materially and so on. The "positive confession" camp has modified, thankfully, at least somewhat. Perhaps that is because too many people became dissillusioned when their fondest dreams did not come true, someone they loved remained ill--or died. Sadly, some who left the church have not returned, or continue to think that somehow the failure was theirs.

Even those of us who are not quite comfortable in that group can still find ourselves believing in a sort of spiritual magic thinking that says that if we are good we will be blessed, if we pray we will have what we ask for, and we are entitled to special consideration from Heaven.

Jesus followers do need to count our blessings, don't we?

I believe so, and I believe that the one who hopes in God will not be disappointed (in the end). We do need to be joyful people, people of confidence and enthusiasm, and so on. Scripture makes this quite apparent. Even in dark times, and he had many, the Psalmist held on to integrity, did what was right, and continued to hope in the Lord. Sadly, that did not always remain the case for David, and the results were tragic, but during the time he waits for God's promise that he will be Israel's king, we see him at his best.

Here is one example from Psalm 119.

Get out of my life, you evil-minded people,
for I intend to obey the commands of my God.
Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live!
Do not let my hope be crushed.
Sustain me, and I will be rescued;
then I will meditate continually on your decrees.

and one from Psalm 13

O Lord, how long will you forget me?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

Scripture contains many accounts of people who were far from perfect, people who the world might consider failures, or losers, or without hope--but who left a lasting mark on their world (and ours too). The list is long and contains many luminaries of the faith. Here are a few:

Abraham - liar, doubter, coward
Jacob - a deceitful mama's boy
Moses - murderer, shy, speech impaired
Job - self-righteous
Rahab - a prostitute
Hannah - childless in a day when that was seen as God's curse
Ruth and Naomi - grieving widows, poor, bitter
James and John - hot tempered opportunists
Peter - loud mouthed and impetuous
Paul - angry, proud, arrogant murderer
Timothy- quiet, physically frail
Mary Magdalene - demon possessed
Woman at the Well - either promiscuous or victimized, or perhaps both

and so it goes.

These people were chosen by God for great tasks, and all of them were blessed, transformed, and touched in some lasting way by God. Were they healed either physically or emotionally or spiritually--or all three?


Were they without scars?

I don't think so.

I'll share more about that soon.


Grady said...

I'm not so sure that scars work the same in the spiritual as they do in the physical - in the spiritual realm, scars become a part of the structure of a person in a way that the physical does not mimic.
when we look at Romans 8:18 ("For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us." ISV) in the context of verses 28 & 29 ("And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that the Son might be the firstborn among many brothers." ISV). As I see it, the scars we gain here on this earth are merely reflections of His scars - they are a part of our becoming conformed to His image - not merely in the physical, but as His glory - a spiritual glory - is revealed in us ...
I want to glory in my sufferings (which are incredibly light, compared to His), for they are a large part of what makes me more like Him!

Lucy Mills said...

Great post. We do not become magically perfect. We grow into Christlikeness through our scars and our flaws.


eija said...

Some of my deepest wounds come from this teaching you mention in the beginning of this post. It's a long, ugly story, but briefly - it took me very deep. It ditched me into deep depression and serious isolation of all people. It almost caused me to apart from God for good - twice. But God has worked miracles in my life and now, twenty years later my faith still exists. Yes, it probably would be easier without those painful memories - even after twenty years they still sting - but without them I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am now. So in a weird way I'm grateful for them.

And yes, no-one is perfect. Not even the mighty men of God in the Bible. That's very relieving - if only the people in this world would understand that too: That even if you're Jesus' follower it doesn't mean you're perfect and without flaws...

Yes, counting one's blessings is vital.