Over the last few years I've found that the social media measure of success for meetings or festivals appears to be how good the sung worship was and if there were any healings. In response, I'm often heard to mutter to an invisible audience; "And what did you learn about God and what did He think about the worship?"
Occasionally, when I'm feeling brave, I might voice this to acquaintances who don't know me that well. It's obvious they don't know me as their responses usually contain words that imply I'm bitter because I haven't been healed or don't believe in healing and therefore I'm not 'in the right place' to appreciate worship.
But that's not the case. I have prayed for people, wheelchair to wheelchair, and they have been healed, as in 'cured'. Maybe it's God's sense of humour that this happens, I don't know. But I do know that He sees I can take it the right way, because my healing has been different. I've not been cured, but I have been
healed. And for the record – I love worship....in all its forms!
But let's look at the word 'healed'. What you think about healing depends on your definition.
What comes into most minds when you mention this word is someone jumping out of a wheelchair and dancing, or throwing their crutches away and running around an auditorium. But healing is much more than that.
As we think of healing we could talk about Spiritual healing, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, minds and souls and the miracle of coming to faith. This healing can be present even in the middle of mental illness that hasn't been cured.
Healing can also be the ability to find God's supernatural peace in the middle of chaos, grasping it with both hands and holding on tight. We could also mention those in the middle of suffering, struggles and even disability. The ability to walk, limp or roll through this valley totally trusting God with our lives can also be healing, and it's this I would like to focus on for a moment.
As talk of 'healings' begin to fill the social media airwaves over a summer of festivals and events, I want to throw out the challenge to show both sides of healing stories. I say this for the sake of our children who are often fed a one sided view of triumphant 'curing', rather than balancing it with stories of hope in the storm. If we are to grow resilient faith in our children they need to hear this other view, especially if those children have disabilities and additional needs. We cannot celebrate one without the other.
I will admit the slow onset of my disability was a struggle. It took me a while to find words to describe it. I still believed that God was good, but the words from a now well known Leonard Cohen song summed up the outworking of my grief much better than I could: "It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah".
My healing has not been jumping out of my wheelchair or throwing my crutches away. It's been the ability to praise in the middle of pain. My hallelujahs were sometimes cold and often broken, but I knew the love and safety of the God to whom I directed them. Sometimes it was a tenacious act of determination, but to willingly follow a loving God, even when I didn't know what the future held, was and still is healing.
I am not alone in this.
For many, this healing comes in those moments of worship given through gritted teeth and clenched fists, with tears streaming down our faces. A sacrifice of praise and the grabbing hold of peace. The resolve to trust when we are afraid and the determination not to abandon our faith – this too is healing, and it needs to be held up as an example of hope in the same way as our stories of curing.
Can God Cure? Yes! Does God always cure? No. Does he always heal? Well, that depends on your definition.
Kay Morgan-Gurr is Chair of Children Matter and Co-Founder of the Additional Needs Alliance, part of the Evangelical Alliance Council. For more, www.kaymorgangurr.com and on Twitter @kaymorgan_gurr