Sometimes, maybe even often, I go to preach in a church where I know I’ve been asked to preach because of what God graciously called me to do – empowered me to do – and gave me the faith to do it: and that is to pray for those who are sick – sometimes from a cold or a pain in the neck (I meet a few of those!!) to cancer to incurable to diseases, and occasionally, to pray for the dead to be resurrected. I – and hundreds of others – heard that call from God on my life in the 80s, and many many others have confirmed it since, I know that God gives me faith that I might not have thought I had when I hear some people’s needs (and that over these near four-decades) he has grown his faith in me and I find that I’m rarely, if ever ‘fazed’ by what I hear people asking me to pray for. I want to say – again – here and now that I can’t heal anyone – but I know that I have the faith that God – who gives us what we need only when we need it – WILL do what he promised to do in the Old and New Testaments, and I know that I CAN do what Jesus did, not because I’m good or special (I’m not) but because he called me to do it, and Jesus promised it.
That’s an immense blessing to me, that God would call a no-one (that’s actually always been who he’s chosen!) to have the privilege of seeing – and doing – all that I’ve seen and done…but there’s a ‘but’….!
For the last few years, since my ‘mobility’ issues have – as yet – stayed ‘unhealed’ by God (I and many, many others believe those issues will be healed – I sometimes think that people must wonder who on earth it is coming to preach and pray for healing for them, walking with a limp and a walking stick… I know, though, that since I’ve had osteoarthritis, that my understanding of pain has changed the way I pray for people – and I have to say that that awful disease that the enemy has stuck in my knees is excruciating! But I’m blessed that – because of understanding that pain – the vast percentage of people who have knee problems get healed! Because we are gifted at something by God, and I’ll use healing as the example, it doesn’t make us ‘immune’ from being ill, or suffering affliction. That’s why I’ve added below a post from Facebook from the amazing Rolland Baker, who with Heidi, sees miracles as a matter of course and daily life. And yet it wasn’t so long ago that Rolland himself nearly died: and Bill Johnson, the wonderful Bible Teacher from Redding, California, was also critically ill not so long ago. Those of us of a slightly more mature age will remember Jennifer Rees-Larcombe, who was suddenly struck down with what was initially thought to be encephalitis, and was wheelchair-bound for many, many years – but still had a ministry of healing and inner healing. And of course, the amazing Joni Eareckson-Tada. We’re not immune. It’s what we do with our suffering, and how we choose to live our lives, with it.
I’ve always refused to give in. Last year, you might remember I was unable to walk for 10 months due to something a consultant doctor did in a ‘standard’ check up to see how I was. I was subsequently told by two other doctors that I’d never walk again. I still made it to preach in other churches, often with physical help to get to the front(!!), and also made it to Colombia, albeit all the way in a wheelchair, and in the wheelchair for everything I did while I was there. I’m not saying this for any other reason than that I know the enemy wants to ‘disable’ us in whatever way he can: we just don’t have to LET him. So sometimes I feel a bit of a ‘fraud’ telling people I want to pray for their healing when I hobble towards them: but God graciously honours his unchangeable promise from 35-40 years ago that he WOULD heal the sick, and – thank God! – he does.
And I CHOSE not to believe that prognosis that I wouldn’t walk again. I can walk, thanks to a man of faith and obedience who didn’t know me, coming a long to way to pray for me, when I was still living in Northern Ireland. He brought with him what I think – originally – was a prophetic word from a highly respected prophet in Northern Ireland for him, that turned out to be for me! That word included this sentence: ‘There are obstacles wherever Paul turns’ – and I’d have to say that over the past 40 years, that’s been true – and is still true, even today. It was an incredibly accurate prophetic word from someone who didn’t know me: we didn’t meet until some weeks later, when we were both involved in a men’s conference in Dublin.
We are NOT immune from sickness, suffering, death, or obstacles. But God is STILL God – and I believe honours our choices in how we handle the things the enemy throws at us to ‘disable’ us.
If you think we’re exempt from suffering once we know Jesus, read on…
From a friend:
When I was at Harvest School in 2011, Heidi shared about drinking from the cup of joy and suffering. For those who love Jesus, the two are inseparable. We have to have the joy that is Jesus or else what are we left with? His joy is EVERYTHING. We cannot live without it. However, Jesus calls us to drink deeply from the cup of joy AND suffering. Why suffer we in the West might cry? Jesus suffered so that we don’t have to! Really? I continue to read Lilies Amongst Thorns, the story of persecuted Christians in China. Tonight I read; ‘The brothers and sisters who were with Gui all began to cry out loud. Then another brother came and told Gui, ‘Two of the brothers after prayer have already wakened, but we are afraid there is no hope for the younger brother.’ Gui immediately called them to prepare a hand cart to bring that brother to him. Sobbing, they pulled that brother home. Gui immediately came out, lifted the blanket and looked at him. His face was beyond recognition. His head had swollen like a gourd and he had already stopped breathing. With the others Gui knelt down in the presence of the Lord and wept, ‘Lord, how can we bear this heavy burden? Have mercy on us and cause this brother to rise from the dead.’ After prayer that brother suddenly took a gasp of air. Gui immediately gave thanks to the Lord. The brother began to open his eyes and slowly sat up. Everyone wept as they praised the Lord with a loud voice. The brother opened his mouth to speak, ‘When I was by the riverside and was beaten, I saw a man whose beard and hair was white and who was clothed in white raiment right down to His feet. His face was like that of the sun and light shone from His whole body. He held in His hand a book and with a pen quickly recorded what was happening. Then He said, “Young son, today I have recorded all that you have suffered”.’ Upon hearing that all the people sang, danced and praised the Lord… I still have so much to learn. Jesus you are worthy!!!