It’s been said that time heals all wounds.
Yeah, not so much.
Untended wounds become infected and turn gangrenous. Untended souls become bitter and angry.
But God – Yahweh Rapha – cleanses our wounds and heals our souls.
What does it mean to be healed? Consider Psalm 103:2-5 (ESV):
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
To be healed is to be restored to health, to be made whole again. Not just of physical illness but of the sickness of our souls. Not just on an individual level but in the healing of relationships and national hurts. Based on the news and social media the past week, we could all use a little (actually a lot) of that.
God first revealed himself to his people as Yahweh Rapha – the healer – after bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and rescuing them from the Egyptian army that pursued them (see Exodus 15:26). He promised to be Yahweh Rapha if they listened diligently to the voice of the Lord, keeping his commandments and statutes. Ancient Egyptian mummies show evidence that its people were rife with diseases – plague, polio, influenza, smallpox. It was a grim world with a short life span, and the promise connecting physical health to obedience was not taken lightly.
But this was just the beginning. God’s healing from physical disease foreshadowed Yahweh Rapha’s healing from the worst disease of all – the sin sickness of our souls. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the human race has been infected with the disease of sin, separating us from a holy God.
BUT God….had a plan
Genesis 3:15 predicts the coming of the One who would crush the enemy of our souls. This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus defeated Satan and sin on the cross and God raised him from the dead. Its final fulfillment will be when Jesus returns to claim those who belong to him and crushes Satan forever.
One of Jesus’ ministries on earth was to supernaturally heal physical illness. This demonstrated his compassion and proved he was God. But…every person he healed eventually died. We live in a fallen world with physical bodies suffering the effects of disease. While God is more than able to supernaturally heal physical illness, sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t, and we aren’t usually privy to the whys. But we do know that his ultimate desire is for the healing of our souls. How exactly does he do this?
- God heals through the sacrifice of Christ. By faith we make the great exchange of our sin for the righteousness of Christ and receive healing from our sins because of his wounds on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).
- As part of this great exchange, God gives us a heart transplant. Consider the following from Ezekiel 36:26-27 (ESV):
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Hearts of stone are unmoldable, unwilling and unable to obey God. Hearts of flesh are soft and yielding to God’s Spirit who empowers us to walk with God and break the hold that sin has on us.
- God heals through his word. God’s word is powerful – by his spoken word he created the world and called Lazarus from the grave. He has given us his written words in the Bible so we can know him better. Psalm 107:20 says that “he sent out his word and healed them.” God heals and soothes our hearts as we read of his great love and compassion for us. Sometimes God seems far away, but as we read his words he reminds us of his comforting presence. Psalm 23 is a good place to start.
- God heals those who are brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 61:1). We don’t have to be perfect or have it all together; in fact, he specializes in healing not only those who are brokenhearted because of life’s difficult circumstances, but those who are brokenhearted and repentant over their sin.
- God heals through confession and forgiveness (see James 5:16 and Psalm 32:5). Confession really is good for the soul and begins the pathway to forgiveness and healing from God and others.
- God heals through his presence. He never promises an easy path; in fact, he guarantees suffering, but he promises to walk with us through trials and to never leave us or forsake us.
- God heals through Christ-motivated obedience. When we walk in obedience Christ’s character is formed in us and we become whole like He is.
Time doesn’t heal – only Jesus can heal. That healing begins with each of us, in my life and in yours. Those who have experienced healing will walk in grace, seeking forgiveness and healing in their relationship with others, and offering others the comfort that they have received in Christ.