Healing Line

Healing Line

When Healing Doesn't Happen

by Derrick Steele
May/Jun 2011

Mike Evans, founder of Wholeness Ministries, loves to tell a story about when he was first being mentored and “fathered” in the healing ministry many years ago by CHM founder Francis MacNutt. The two men were sitting down to a meal during the break at one of Francis’ healing conferences. Mike, still young in the ministry, was hanging on Francis’ words, eager to glean every last drop of the older man’s prodigious wealth of wisdom.

“Do you want to know the craziest thing about this whole healing ministry?” Francis asked with a gleam in his eye, pausing a little to heighten Mike’s anticipation. Mike whipped out his notebook and waited for the pearls of wisdom to drop. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating the story just a bit…)

Francis leaned closer and said in his own peculiar mix of humor and humility, “We really have no idea what we’re doing!”

Invariably in my travels with Wholeness Ministries, Mike will repeat this incident in response to someone’s question concerning why sometimes healing happens and why sometimes it does not. In general, this is a refreshing posture of humility that is so necessary if the healing ministry is to regain a respectable reputation within the Church as a whole. After all, what are you going to do with an absolutely–sure–of–himself–beyond–a–shadow–of–a–doubt minister of healing prayer who promises you that God is going to heal you…and then you don’t get healed?

On the contrary, almost everywhere we go we find that people are quick to share their appreciation for an approach to the healing ministry — like that which Mike learned from Francis — an approach that leaved a wide latitude for mystery.

Unfortunately, none of us are very good with mystery. We were, as a species, created with an almost insatiable need for things to make sense. Coping with the fact that some things are just beyond our human capability to comprehend is never easy for such curious beings as ourselves. Even then, we long to be comforted by the knowledge that things which cannot make sense to us still make sense to God.

That is why it is so important in the healing ministry that we draw a clear distinction between not having the answer as to why someone is not healed when they come for prayer, and there not being an answer. Too often we are, in honest humility, simply making a statement regarding our own finite nature, our own ignorance, and our own dependence on God as the One who has the power to heal — but find that people have heard instead that God’s choice to heal or not to heal is purely arbitrary, unsearchable, and beyond discussion. We prayed — God didn’t show up. Well, God does as He chooses, and that ought to be the end of the argument.

But that is not what we in the healing ministry believe at all. We believe that God’s heart, as seen in the perfect incarnation of His Son, is always for healing and restoration. God loves us, always. He is neither moody nor capricious. What an awful picture to hold of your Heavenly Father, that He reclines on His throne lethargically playing rock–paper–scissors to decide which prayers He is going to answer and which prayers He is not. How could we trust the heart of such a God as that?

Mike often tells another story about watching John Wimber, founder of the worldwide Vineyard Fellowship of churches, minister at a healing conference in the 1980s. John had just prayed for someone who did not receive instant healing, and someone from the crowd raised their hand to ask why. Unfazed, John shrugged and replied simply, “I haven’t got a clue.”

“I haven’t got a clue…but God does!” How important it is that this is the message we portray to a world that for the most part already blames God for far too much of the sickness and disease that they have experienced. No, we don’t have all the answers. But there are answers. Even if they are answers we will never uncover this side of Heaven’s gates, the answers are there. And they would make sense if we knew them. How often has a word of knowledge or a gift of discerning spirits led us to pray for someone in a totally different direction than we ever would have thought to pray on our own? How often has that insight proved the missing puzzle piece in bringing about healing?

We cannot forget that every act of healing involves plundering the unseen spiritual kingdom of darkness, and there is so much in that realm that we haven’t even begun to understand. The spiritual realm works by laws, by rules; there is justice and propriety in the way things operate there. But no man really understands most of those rules. In order for someone to receive healing there might need to be twenty doors in the spiritual realm unlocked all at the same time. Taking the step of courage, compassion, and obedience to choose to use your authority in Christ to pray for healing for someone may only get you past the first door. Sometimes I suppose you will find that the other doors are open as well. But other times there are still 19 more to be unlocked. It really is no surprise that we don’t have a clue what we are doing!

We must never give the impression that God is random — that His love means He wants to heal Person A’s cancer, but that for some bizarre reason, this same love doesn’t want to heal Person B’s cancer.

It is only in this belief that God is for your healing that you will be able to find the courage and determination to continue to pursue healing when it doesn’t happen the first time someone prays for you. We see far too many people shrug and walk away from a ‘failed’ prayer experience with an attitude of resignation: “Obviously God didn’t want to heal me.” Sometimes they say it. Sometimes they don’t. But you can always read it in their faces, and it’s pretty obvious: they took a risk, nothing happened…they won’t be coming back.

At Wholeness Ministries events people who do not receive immediate healing are always encouraged to keep ‘going after it’ — seeking prayer as often as it takes to find healing. But too often they are confused and disheartened, thinking that if God didn’t heal them tonight, He must not want them healed at all, and what’s the point of banging your head against a brick wall anyway? With all the bad theology and silly notions about God floating about in the world today, can you really blame them? That is why it is so very important that we are careful and deliberate to always present a solid theology of God’s heart for healing, that He is neither cruel nor random, and that just because we don’t have the answers doesn’t mean that the answers aren’t out there somewhere.

Only in doing this — only in telling people that there may be mystery in the universe but not mystery in God’s heart of love for them — can we foster that most precious and rare of human necessities: Hope.

To find out more information about Wholeness Ministries, visit www.wholeness.org.
To find out more about The Warrior's Path, visit www.warriorspathonline.com.

Derrick Steele Derrick Steele is on staff at Wholeness Ministries, and is co–founder of The Warrior's Path. May/Jun 2011