One of my kids asked a question that Brian and I had actually discussed last week as we planned the service.
"Mom, since Brian said that God didn't promise to protect us or save us from disease and illness, why did we close with a worship song that says, 'You heal all my disease?' "
The final song in today's service was Healer; it's an emotional song with a fascinating backstory that deeply impacted many of us on the stage today. The lyric says:
You hold my every moment
Calm my raging seas
Walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in you...
I trust in you
I believe that
you're my healer
I believe that you are all I need
I believe that you're my portion
I believe you're more than enough for me
Jesus, you're all I need
Nothing is impossible for you..you hold my world in your hands
When you stand this lyric up to the bulk of Brian's message today, there do seem to be some powerful contradictions. How can we declare that God 'heals our disease' when our pastor - and the facts - clearly establish that not all diseases are healed, in spite of fervent prayer? How can we say that God holds our world in his hands, when the teaching today stated that God has relinquished control?
I wrestled with these issues myself. I do not take lightly the choice of music for our services each week. My responsibility to choose songs for worship includes a tremendous respect for the authority of the Bible and a desire to reflect a theological understanding that is accurate and representative of our core beliefs.
In my wrestling, which involves the bible, seeking out wisdom from others and prayer, I came to this conclusion:
For me, this song relects an issue of faith - faith that stands regardless of any expected or desired outcome. Several years ago, I read a book by Larry Crabb called The Pressure's Off. In it, the author dissects the common Christian notion that 'A+B=C; what he described as a faulty perception that living a Christian life means working towards a prescribed set of behaviors in order to accomplish a desired goal. That's a common sense way to approach many issues in life. But in matters of faith, prescribed behaviors don't always result in the expected outcome. People sin. Wives leave. Children stray. Parents die.
Even if you're living a 'good Christian life'.
Today, I was able to sing the words 'you heal all my disease' in a way that did not contradict the teaching of my pastor. Although God can and does heal physical illness in mysterious ways at times, this line serves as a metaphor for me; one of faith and a definition of healing that goes beyond my understanding. You see, I believe that my deepest and deadliest disease is simply this: I am human. I fall short of the glory of God time and time again. My disease keeps me from holiness and purity that I can only envision through the power of Jesus in me. The only healing for this comes through faith - my willingness to trust that Jesus is, indeed, more than enough for me.
This powerful worship song reflects a faith that I strive for on a daily basis; to believe, truly, that nothing is impossible - all the while realizing that my humanity will always limit my understanding. And that, to me, is the greatest miracle of God - that he is more than enough, beyond my understanding, creator of all things, the beginning and the end - he is God.
Right now I am limited. One day, however, I'll see him face to face - by faith - and I'll get it. And then, there will be no contradictions.
I realize that there are more powerful implications for those who are struggling right now with cancer, or brain injuries, or lupus, or heart failure, or a myriad number of other physical difficulties. For those who are mourning the loss of loved ones, for those who anguish over circumstances that seem terribly unfair and painful, the concept of healing takes on a deeper meaning. However, at the root of all these things, we are all human, in need of healing. For this reason, I think this song can stand as a powerful reminder not of our limitations - but of the mighty power of the One in whom we believe.