Have you ever prayed for healing that didn’t come? I sure have. More than once I mustered up every ounce of faith inside me, closed my eyes real tight, said the magic words and clicked my heels. And nothing happened. This is the stuff of life that stares faith right in the eyeballs and doesn’t flinch. Even seasoned faith struggles not to retreat.
Chapter 9 in the Gospel of John recounts the fascinating story of Jesus’ encounter with a man born blind. Several facets of the story deserve special consideration, including the disciples’ attempt to assign the cause of the infirmity (perhaps we’ll get to that another time). For the time being let’s focus our attention on the unusual details of the healing in this story.
It basically played out like this. Jesus spit on the ground, reached down and made a blob of spit-mud, plastered it on the guy’s eyes and commanded him to “go wash in the Pool of Siloam”. How unique was that? In the scope of Jesus’ healing miracles? —VERY.
Scripture records dozens of healing miracles during Jesus’ ministry. We see that Jesus healed with a single word, by a simple touch, and at times from a distance without ever coming face-to-face with the person being healed. In this case the blind-man was given instructions that required him to share in the healing process. Why did Jesus work in such a unique way in this instance?
I think we can rule out the possibility that dirt mixed with saliva played some practical or medicinal role in bringing sight to blind eyes. Neither is there is reason to believe there was anything exceptional about the water at the pool. There was nothing magical in the physical action of placing the mud on the blind man’s eyes. I believe that, for some reason, Jesus orchestrated this sequence of actions to make the supernatural act of healing more tangible.
My take-away from the story is that the Healer may require us to participate in our own healing as an act of faith.
Of course God still performs miraculous, even instantaneous healing and we should never hesitate to ask or believe for such. Sickness and disease are the result of the Fall of Man into sin, and part of the reconciliation accomplished on the Cross was provision for our physical healing. His shed blood made our physical healing possible.
Yet it is clear that God does not always choose to heal in a moment. Sometimes our healing requires diligent prayer, patience and perseverance. Sometimes it comes through the application of wisdom and practical knowledge that God has allowed us to discover as humans. Sometimes healing is accomplished only on the other side of the grave. The cross made our earthly healing possible —not guaranteed.
This truth is a mystery to us and can be difficult to understand. But His word assures us that He is a good, good Father and desires what is best for His own children. We must trust that God always knows the circumstances through which our good and His glory will be best accomplished.