I believe that God has the power to physically heal people and I have friends who have been healed and a few who I have seen healed dramatically. It happens, it's not just in the Bible that people get up and walk having not been able to for weeks, months or years.
But I also know many hundreds of people who have not been healed by God despite their belief in healing, their turning to Christ, their obedient lives and their petitions for healing through prayer.
Since loosing most of my eye sight and having very dodgy mobility so using either a mobility scooter or an electric wheelchair (I manage to get around the house OK until early evening when I usually start bumbling into things and having problems getting out of chairs and loose my legs from under me) I have had a plethera of people tell me what I should do in order to be healed. Interestingly not a single one of these people are nurses or doctors or specialists, and there are plenty of those in our church.
My first experience of advice about healing was
"don't say you have MS and have lost your sight, if you name it then you claim it".
I had never heard anything like this before and was completely taken off guard. I actually had no idea what this meant and had to ask for a further explanation. The brief summary is that this person believes that illness is about not being faithful enough to God and not trusting Him enough with our health and healing. I was dumbfounded (which really doesn't happen often) and didn't want to get into a theological discussion at that time and so just thanked them for their advice.
My second experience was several months later and on the street in the centre of Reading. There were a group of young Christians with a massive flag who were offering healing. They are there a lot and I just ignore, I don't think it's a great witness of our faith, but each to their own. But this time, as I was going past on my mobility scooter, one of them shouts out "you need to believe in God and He will heal you!" Well I wasn't going to just let that go; it's one thing to offer healing to people who ask for it, but to tell someone that they need to believe in God to be healed is awful, especially when that person already believes. I decided that the best way to deal with this was not to ignore but to speak to the person and to the leader of the group. I explained how I felt and that as a Christian, it was hurtful and thoughtless and could be really damaging to someone who is struggling with their disability or illness as a faithful Christian. After a few minutes it was clear that we were never going to agree and so I left them to get on with it.
My subsequent experiences have been people who have been "shown by God that I won't always be blind/have MS/need mobility aids/get more ill" etc etc etc. There have been so many of these well meaning people and I always enter into a discussion with them about what they mean and how they think this is helpful. Some come from the "don't claim it" camp, others from the "God is going to heal you if you really want it" camp and others have a strong sense from God that I will be healed.
Yes I will be healed, in fact, yes I have been healed!!
It is not a one way only thing
Let me explain more.
In October 2015 I lost most of my eye sight, but more importantly, in the weeks that followed, I lost most of my hope and passion for life and felt like I was broken and had failed God in my calling. I was grieving and I sunk into an anger and depression which engulfed everything else. I spent most of my time trapped in my house and on my own and it was some of the worst days of my life, as bad as the months after Kendi died when I could not really function. Yet I still had to function because I knew I needed to keep things the best they could be for Rachel. So I got out of bed every day and I smiled as she went off to school and I pulled myself together the best I could when she came home. I went to church and got to team meetings and every time I went anywhere people would say something along the lines of "you are so inspirational, it's amazing how you are coping and getting on with life" etc etc etc And I know they meant well, but I was dieing inside and I didn't feel any of that and I knew that if they could see into my heart they would be shocked and appauled at what they found. And that made the depression worse, it was spiralling downward.
I was not a nice person to be around between November and Christmas and almost all of that was taken out on Mike. I was angry and it was directed towards him and I'm ashamed to admit that I blamed him for not making everything better and sorting it all out and allowing me to live the life I had had before. I was a monster to him and I can't believe he put up with it. But of course he knew what was going on, he knew I was depressed, after all he'd seen it before and knew it would pass.
At Christmas I hit rock bottom and I was struck with suicidal thoughts but I couldn't tell a soul, I couldn't bring that onto the family at Christmas, although obviously they could all see that I was struggling big time and was in crisis. I didn't know what to do, I knew this wasn't a chemical depression which increasing my anti-depressants would fix, I knew this was grief, plain and simple and awful. And so I did what I knew to do, I asked for prayer from every person I knew who prayed. I asked for prayer to heal my grief as quickly as possible and being healing upon me. And I prayed, like crazy I prayed for God's will to be done in my life in whatever way He needed me to be healed.
And guess what? I was healed!
By mid January I could feel a lightening of my mood and I was able to think clearly again. By February I was thinking ahead again; we made plans for a cruise this summer, I rang back the occupational therapists and agencies who could help and made appointments, I actually listened to people with advice. I was making plans and taking steps to learn how to live life to the very best because that was clearly what God wanted me to do.
One of the most important things that happened was that I heard about Torch Trust (a Christian organisation with a worldwide vision for people with sight loss) and made a booking to go on a week's retreat with them in the spring. That week was a huge blessing, it was a time of affirmation and understanding, empowerment and fellowship and healing. It was a week of being soaked in the spirit and allowing it to work in me. I arrived on the Monday weighed down with guilt and feelings of failing in my calling; and I left knowing how much God loved me still and how much He had in store for me. I knew that God had always known this was coming and was wanting me to keep ministering through whatever life threw at me.
I was healed!
Healed emotionally of the pain and grief of my illness and able to think ahead.
Healed of doubt and guilt and able to find a way forward in my calling.
Healed of anger and upset and able to see the joy and hope and opportunity.
So what do we mean by God's healing?
As in John9 we mean that the blind shall see.
And for some that might be a literal healing of blindness.
But for me it's about seeing God in His truth and seeing my calling in it's diversity.
The blind man shall see; well so shall I, even with my sight loss, because I know the love and healing power of God in my life.
As Mother Theresa so brilliantly said "Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God". I have done that and He has healed me, in ways I value much more than actual sight or complete health.