As leaders, how do we engage with the supernatural? How do we process it when we see something that we think might be supernatural? Or when we desperately want something supernatural to happen and we just aren’t seeing it? As we lead and disciple others, how do we help them process the supernatural? How do we talk with others about the power of God to heal? Many of us are biased either for or against supernatural events such as healings. We strive to read God’s intervention into every circumstance, or we try to explain away everything that doesn’t fit a naturalistic paradigm.
What is possible with God?
What if we remain open? What if we recognize that God may not act in every situation, or may act rarely, but can act when and as he chooses?
We can certainly pray for healing. We can ask for whatever we want. Even Jesus asked the Father for what he wanted, but recognized his ultimate power with, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Sometimes God chooses to heal or deliver; sometimes he does not. It’s presumptuous for us to assume we always know what’s best. God sees the bigger picture. The important part is that as leaders, we participate in regular listening prayer and respond to the Holy Spirit with humility and in obedience.
Engage the supernatural with opens hands
Jesus certainly physically healed some people. He did not heal everyone. Paul prayed for his unspecified “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. And God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Sometimes it seems to us like God does not respond at all. It is hard for us to know what his will is. It’s hard for us to have the humility to submit ourselves to whatever is best and whatever would maximize God’s glory.
A wise friend once prayed for healing for me. Yet he also prayed for my spiritual and emotional growth as I struggled. And he prayed for my interactions with others that I might never have had if I had not struggled with that physical ailment. There were people I couldn’t have engaged with any other way. Regardless of whether God heals or not in a given situation, it matters how we engage the process, how we interact with others, how we handle and go through things.
Keeping the big picture in mind
As believers, we are ultimately healed. My father died after a long and debilitating struggle with Parkinsons disease that left him physically bent over. At this memorial service, one of his friends came up to me and said, “Well, Bob, Sam is standing up tall today!” It took me a moment, but then I thought, “You’re right. God does ultimately heal the believer.” For every one of us, at some point the prayer for physical healing isn’t answered—because we all die. We have a finite time on this earth. And while we are here, we do best to let God be God… neither demanding anything of him or lacking faith in his power.
The best book I’ve read on this topic is Supernatural by Keith Shields. I definitely recommend picking up a copy if you want a thoughtful, balanced, and intellectual perspective from someone who is both a theologian and a scientist. And as an added bonus, he’s a great writer whose words you will find inspiring.