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Most commonly our perceptions of divine healing are intertwined with questions—questions about God's power, about human suffering and the role we must play in our own recovery or the recovery of someone we love. Why is there suffering in the world? If God is good, and all-powerful, then why doesn't God alleviate suffering? Why is there sickness, hunger and death? Where is God when we hurt, and why does God often seem so far away from our problems and difficulties?
We are not the first people to ask such questions, of course. People of faith have struggled with these problems for centuries. In fact, the scriptures are brimming with such theological conundrums. Abraham questioned God's justice. Moses questioned God's purposes and plan. Job longed for God's explanations and argued valiantly with his friends. And many of the Psalms of the Bible address questions pertaining to God's presence, justice or mercy.
Psalm 10 begins with the words: 'Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?'
Psalm 13 begins, 'How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?'
Psalm 22 begins with the words: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Words that, later, Jesus himself would pray upon the cross, again questioning God's care.
No—we are not the first people to struggle with issues of God's presence and fairness. Like those of old, we too want to know why God doesn't come to our rescue. When we hurt, we want an answer to our suffering, our pain, our loneliness. Often, we wonder why God doesn't heal more of what ails us—in our personal lives, our bodies and in our world. We wonder why people can't get along and why our human relationships are often so fraught with struggle and pain.
THE PAIN OF BEING HUMAN
Certainly, these questions continue to be a part of our faith journey. But one observation rises to the surface when we examine life more closely. We see that there is much suffering in the world, and that there are many forms of this suffering. Yes, there are many forms of physical injury and pain. People are hungry, others thirsty. Some cannot walk. Others cannot speak.
But if we look more deeply, we can also see that not all suffering is of the physical variety. In fact, much of the suffering we experience in life has little to do with the body at all. There are times, for example, when our feelings may be injured. There are times when we feel angry or embarrassed because we did not get accepted into a university or win a coveted prize or competition. Sometimes we have family problems or parenting difficulties or marital stresses. There are misunderstandings, hurtful words, broken friendships. We feel pain when we lose a job, make a mistake or do not receive some reward or accolade that we feel we deserve.
In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, I think we'd agree that most of the pain we experience in life has to do with human relationships. To be human means that we must live in relationship with other people—family, friends, strangers, coworkers, clients, neighbors, teammates, classmates—with people who are like us, and with people who are not at all like us. And the truth is— people cause one another pain.
Sometimes we don't get what we need—emotionally, spiritually or financially—from other people. Sometimes we hurt someone else—and this realization causes us pain, too!
Jesus certainly understood these realities. He knew what it was like to have friends—and to be hurt by his friends. He knew what it was like to have people use him, or abuse him or even ignore him. And a great many of his words address the common difficulties that we all experience in this human adventure.
©2005. Todd Outcalt. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Healing Touch: Experiencing God's Love in the Midst of Our Pain. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
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