SCRIPTURE: Matthew 8:2 (TM)
Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, "Master, if you want to, you can heal my body."
Philip Yancey in his book, Disappointment with God, writes: Even back then I was searching for hard evidence of God as an alternative to faith. And one day I found it--on television, of all places. While randomly flipping a dial, I came across a mass healing service being conducted by Kathryn Kuhlman. I watched for a few minutes as she brought various people up on the stage and interviewed them. Each one told an amazing story of supernatural healing. Cancer, heart conditions, paralysis--it was like a medical encyclopedia up there. As I watched Kuhlman's program, my doubts gradually melted away. At last I had found something real and tangible. Kuhlman asked a musician to sing her favorite song, "He Touched Me. That's what I needed, I thought; a touch, a personal touch from God. She held out that promise, and I lunged for it.
Three weeks later when Kathryn Kuhlman came to a neighboring state, I skipped classes and traveled half a day to attend one of her meetings. The atmosphere was unbelievably charged--soft organ music in the background; the murmuring sound of people praying aloud, some in strange tongues; and every few minutes a happy interruption when someone would stand and claim, "I'm healed!" One person especially make an impression, a man from Milwaukee who had been carried into the meeting on a stretcher. When he walked--yes, walked--onstage, we all cheered wildly. He told us he was a physician, and I was even more impressed. He had incurable lung cancer, he said, and was told he had six months to live. But now, tonight, he believed God had healed him. He was walking for the first time in months. He felt great. Praise God! I wrote down the man's name and practically floated out of that meeting. I had never known such certainty of faith before. My search was over; I had seen proof of a living God in those people on the stage. If he could work tangible miracles in them, then surely he had something wonderful in store for me.
I wanted contact with the man of faith I had seen at the meeting, so much so that exactly one week later I phoned Directory Assistance in Milwaukee and got the physician's number. When I dialed it, a woman answered the phone. "May I please speak to Dr. S_____," I said. Long silence. "Who are you?" she said at last. I figured she was just screening calls from patients or something. I gave my name and told her I admired Dr. S_____ and had wanted to talk to him ever since the Kathryn Kuhlman meeting. I had been very moved by his story, I said. Another long silence. Then she spoke in a flat voice, pronouncing each word slowly. "My...husband...is...dead." Just that one sentence, nothing more, and she hung up.
I can't tell you how that devastated me. I was wasted. I half-staggered into the next room, where my sister was sitting. "Richard, what's wrong?" she asked. "Are you all right?" No, I was not all right. But I couldn't talk about it. I was crying. My mother and sister tried to pry some explanation out of me. But what could I tell them? For me, the certainty I had staked my life on had died with that phone call. A flame had flared bright for one fine, shining week and then gone dark, like a dying star.
Is our belief in God dependent on one event, one act, one healing, one miracle? I admit it is a “Martinism”, but it makes sense to me anyway. It goes like this: If one takes away the hope of Heaven as well as the fear of Hell would we still believe? Would we still follow Jesus? Would we still live a life of grace, hope and promise? Is our faith dependent on one healing?
A leper comes to Jesus. He kneels in submission. He makes a humble confession, “if you want to…” We are that leper in so many ways. Oh, we are not untouchable – maybe unapproachable – but certainly we couldn’t be counted among the untouchables as are the lepers. And yet, we stand in as much need of healing and wholeness as does one with this disease. We come to Jesus. We kneel in submission. We make our humble confession… and we hope that the answer is yes! Please Lord let be yes! Let it be yes just this once! We will never ask for anything else from you if you would answer with a yes this time!
Like Philip Yancey, one of my favorite authors, we have all been disappointed with God. We prayed believing and still death came. We prayed and divorce happened anyway. We prayed, but the bright flare of the flame slowly died over time. We prayed. We prayed in Jesus’ name. We prayed believing, but offense to our belief system still happened – life changing, earth shaken offense. An offense to everything we pin our hope to. We are disappointed that God didn’t pick us for the healing, even though our hand was raised higher than everybody else’s… even though we kept saying over and over and over again, “Pick me, pick me, pick me.”
We stand in need today. In our mind we are more needy that many others. We live believing that we are more worthy than most. Pick us… oh, please Lord, pick us this time. We don’t want the flame to die out. We desire hope to continue. Give us insight and understanding and patience to accept your answer.