A few weeks ago, as mentioned in my last column, we had an amazing church outreach weekend. With meetings on the Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday and all day on the high street, we had plenty of time to receive prayer and speak to people about our faith.
Our faith was greatly encouraged through what we saw and experienced. Some highlights included watching a woman on the high street, who had been in wheelchair for over 30 years, walk for the first time and a man who had been deaf in one ear for over 50 years hear perfectly through it.
And yet why was it that, on the Sunday morning as my husband and I were chatting over what had happened and were praying for that morning's meeting, the conversation took the inevitable turn of talking about those who aren't healed?
That weekend I heard Jonathan Conrathe, the evangelist we asked to come and help us with the weekend, talk about seeing the dead raised, the deaf hear and the blind see. He also described watching someone who had had metal round their spine contort as God mended their back. Afterwards doctors confirmed there was no longer any problem with their back.
That last anecdote was the one that hit me the most. Because the condition he described sounded so similar to my mum's. I have written in Woman Alive about how I felt when, last year, she underwent a life-threatening operation to have a cage built around her spine. In the last month or so we've had the shocking news that that operation was not successful and that, actually, the situation is now worse than it was before.
As a church leader it is really hard when faced with the reality of what you know God's word says (yes He IS the healer – 'by his wounds we are healed' Isaiah 53:5) and the reality of everyday life in which a loved one is suffering physically.
Every day my mum is in terrible pain. She has taught me an incredible amount about persevering in my faith even in the midst of troubles. She has coped so bravely with people telling her it is her fault she isn't healed, and grappled with why healing hasn't happened, that all I can do is stand back and admire her.
Still, the reality is that while I may stand up the front and encourage people to come to the Healer, everyone there knows that my mum has, so far, not been healed. It makes this a particularly difficult issue for me.
As my husband and I talked we came to the conclusion that when you see the dead raised, the deaf hear, the lame walk, leprosy completely disappear etc you speak out with real confidence that God CAN heal! For us, while we know and absolutely believe all of that to be true, the circumstances that surround us can sometimes dull our faith – or at least make it harder to exercise it.
There are times when this whole issue has made me feel condemned, as I can struggle with it so much. I do know that healing is one of those mysteries that we are never going to fully understand until we get to heaven – after all – "Who has known the mind of the Lord?" (Romans 11:34). And yet so often I can allow my questions and doubts to take over rather than trusting God.
Something that really helped, and I would even go so far to say freed me from the condemnation I was heaping upon myself, was being reminded by Simon Holley, in his fantastic book, Sustainable Power, that we can pray and have faith for someone to be healed but the onus isn't on us.
We can't heal – only God can. So whether it happens or not is not down to how eloquent our prayers are. God knows who is going to be healed when. We just need to be faithful in praying and leave the rest to Him.
So, while life seems to be incredibly paradoxical, I celebrate and thank God for the amazing healings we saw that outreach weekend (and especially for the 11 new commitments made), and I continue to pray for my mum's total healing and restoration.