Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
Monday, September 20, 2010
“Jehovah Rapha ”
He lay upon the bed, dressed in gown, socks, and a little blue hat that resembled a shower cap. He was awaiting the moment in which the kind gentleman would wheel him away. Positive and determined, he spoke words of hope, encouragement, and of God‘s unfailing love. He truly believed in faith that God was going to heal him that day. Certain that this simple laser surgery was going to be a piece of cake, he bragged about how he was going to be home in just a day or two. He TRULY believed! But when he awoke in pain, he would come to realize that his worst fears had become a reality. The simple laser surgery had taken an unexpected turn. He now was covered in tubes providing an escape for the draining blood due to a tracheotomy. He could not speak or swallow and coughing was a daunting task. It was then that he realized that God had not answered his fervent prayer…or, did he?
Jehovah Rapha - The God Who Heals
“Rapha” is a term meaning “to restore, to heal, to cure” and is used 60+ times in the Old Testament. The word also conveys the idea of restoration to the normal or useful state. God reveals Himself to us as Jehovah Rapha when we are in need of healing. As humans, we experience emotional, physical and spiritual brokenness…and we all know that brokenness can produce bitterness in our hearts if not dealt with properly.
The most crucial form of healing that we can receive from Jehovah Rapha is healing from our spiritual brokenness. We are all spiritually “sick”, but Jehovah Rapha provides us with the only cure; the blood of Jesus Christ. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Sin is a terminal disease, a condition of the heart that cannot be cured on our own. The only hope to keep us from destruction is to recognize our need and cry out to the God who heals. Isaiah 1:5-6 suggests our wickedness affects every part of us. “Why do you persist in your rebellion? Your whole head is injured. Your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness – only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.” But as we read on, verse 18 reveals the hope we have in the healing power of Jehovah Rapha, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Once we take care of our spiritual brokenness, then we can experience freedom from all other chains that hold us captive.
Jehovah Rapha heals our emotional brokenness and repairs our broken hearts. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3). The word “broken” here literally means “to burst, to break into pieces, to crush”. Is your heart crushed into pieces? Are you suffering from a broken relationship that has caused deep, emotional scars? Are you overwhelmed by the aching inside due to someone who has hurt you? Maybe it’s something you are carrying around from your past. Maybe it happened just yesterday. I want to encourage you to cry out to Jehovah Rapha and make a plea to the “God who Heals” to mend your broken heart.
Our physical brokenness should also be brought before Jehovah Rapha. Many of us are in the state of trying to process our physical pain; if not our own, the physical difficulties of someone we love. Frustrations from physical ailments can leave us feeling unfocused, angry, and even abandoned by God. It is at the throne of grace where we must fall to our knees and cry out to Jehovah Rapha. Do we truly believe that God’s will for us is to be physically whole? Do we earnestly trust that He longs to heal our physical impairments? The Bible is full of examples of physical healing. Jesus healed many of blindness, leprosy, lameness, and even physically brought life to those who were dying, but do we honestly believe that He can heal us today?
How do we better understand the healing power of Jehovah Rapha?
Does our pain serve a purpose? I have already experienced pain that has driven me to my knees; difficulties that have drawn me closer to God than ever before and caused me to search out His Word. Isn’t that what the Psalmist says in Psalm 119? “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” The Word says that the Lord can bring good out of every situation. Sometimes the purpose of our pain is to bring hope and encouragement to others experiencing similar circumstances. God calls us to share the miracle of our “healing” with others.
Is my pain caused by my sin? Unconfessed sin must always be taken seriously. Sin can very easily be a contributing factor to our emotional, physical, and spiritual ailments. David writes in Psalm 38, “Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. For I am about to fall, and my pain is forever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” But we would be remiss if we believed that every pain is a result of sin. Take the story of Job for instance. Job’s friends made a serious mistake in accusing Job that he was suffering because of sin. Why, Jesus even answered the disciples in John chapter 9 concerning the blind man - neither the blind man, nor his parents had sinned. But this happened so that “the work of God might be displayed in his life.” When facing pain, we must conduct a “sin inventory” to better understand if our suffering may be a result of sin.
Is it ok to seek the help of professional doctors? It is my opinion that Jehovah Rapha can use doctors and medicines to display His healing power. God is all-powerful. He can and does sometimes choose to heal by simply speaking it to be, but He also often uses other means by which we are healed. We see a clear picture of this in Exodus 15. Moses had just led the people of Israel from the Red Sea into the desert. They traveled there for 3 days without water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water because of its’ bitterness. So the people began to grumble to Moses saying, “What shall we drink?” Moses cried out to the Lord and in turn, God showed him a piece of wood in which to throw into the water. In doing so, the water became sweet and the people’s thirst was quenched. And the Lord said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all of His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases that I brought onto the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you” (Rapha). God could have caused the water to become sweet by simply willing it. But instead, He “healed” the water through the use of another element - a piece of wood. Notice the wood was the instrument of healing, but we must also realize that the act of Moses’ believing and obeying was crucial to healing. In the same way, the Lord may choose to use doctors and medicine. The key is our faith and obedience, and to trust that He has it all under control.
At the same time, a common mistake of many is to seek help and healing from earthly means without calling on the Lord. The story of Asa’s final years should serve as a warning. When he was sick, Asa didn’t go to God first. Instead, he went right to the doctors. “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness, he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12) Also take for example, the woman with the issue of blood in Mark chapter 5. This woman had been subjected to bleeding for 12 years. “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse.” (vs. 26) The passage goes on to tell of how she heard about Jesus, she believed that if she could just touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed. After simply touching Jesus, she was cured immediately and freed from her suffering. We all can learn from her testimony of great faith. Our lesson? Don’t drive right by the “Great Physician” on the way to the doctor’s office!
How can we get through all of this on our own? The answer - we can’t! That’s why God has blessed us with the concept of community. We NEED each other! James 5 instructs us on what we should do when we are sick. First, call upon the elders of the church to pray over us. Next, confess our sins to one another and pray for each other. Notice the two main elements here - prayer and people. The people in your community are your friends; the people that you love and trust. As believers, we need to be ready at a moments notice, day or night, to speak words of comfort into the lives of those who are hurting. I experienced this first-hand recently during my dad’s cancer surgery, and even well after. I was so blessed to have friends that were willing to pray with me and for our situation. I was flooded with offers to help wherever needed, with texts, and with phone calls even at the wee hour! What a difference it made in being able to handle the load! We don’t have to (and we weren’t created to) carry those burdens alone. But we also must be willing to lay aside our pride in order to receive the blessing that others eagerly wish to give.
Why doesn’t God heal me, even when I come to Him in faith? Many believe, if we have enough faith, we should be healed of everything. Praying to Jehovah Rapha in faith for healing, believing that He CAN heal, is definitely a biblical principle. Where we run into trouble is when we demand our own will, the way WE think it should play out, and not for the will of the Father. We must consider that God’s idea of healing may significantly differ from our own. He reserves the right to heal as He sees fit and sometimes the healing takes place in unusual ways. Author Tim Hansel dealt with chronic pain for 35 years following a severe climbing accident. He writes, “I have prayed hundreds, if not thousands of times for the Lord to heal me…and He finally healed me of the need to be healed.” Sometimes the Lord chooses to heal us by giving us an unexplainable peace and contentment about our circumstances. We must also realize that God may not choose to heal us here on earth, but as believers we may say with confidence that He WILL heal us on the other side. In heaven, our bodies will be made whole. He will remove all of our pain, and He will wipe away all of our tears! (Revelation 21:4).
Remember, the true source of our healing is the shed blood of Christ who saved us from certain death. “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) Take heart in the fact that Jesus knows our pain and was afflicted with suffering for our sake! Just like the piece of wood that Moses threw into the water to heal it of it‘s bitterness; Jehovah Rapha has used yet another piece of wood to heal our brokenness - Calvary’s tree.
I believe that God did answer my father’s fervent prayer. The process by which the healing takes place may not be the most convenient; may not be the easiest; may not be preferable. But God has a way of taking our pains and turning them into praises. He takes our weaknesses and turns them into strengths. What Satan means to cause us harm, God turns around for good. Our circumstances are continually being used to not only build our character, but to magnify the awesome healing power of Jehovah Rapha in our lives.