Years ago I was on a trip with some friends from church. We had opted to drive all night instead of stopping somewhere overnight. We had some weighty discussions during that all nighter. And a few of those thoughts still resonate with me, all these years ago. I remember we were talking at one point about what we wished we had been given as a gift from the Almighty. Did we wish for the ability to speak in tongues? The ability to walk on water? I wished out loud that I had been given the ability to heal people. Wouldn't that have been wonderful I gushed to just touch someone and their diseases would disappear! I didn't want the notoriety that would go with it, but the ability...well, I thought, would be terrific.
The person I was talking with glanced at me while I was sharing this (he was driving after all and couldn't look at me for more than a few seconds) and asked, "what makes you think you don't do that already?" I laughed as I was sure he was teasing me. But he wasn't laughing or even smiling. "What are you talking about?" I asked. "Maybe you can heal with your words or your writing," he went on to say. "Maybe you don't heal by physically touching, but by healing in another way. Maybe you do have the ability, you just don't see it that way."
I have often thought of this conversation over the years. It has comforted me and made me uncomfortable at the same time. It's like I want to look up at God and say, "no, no, you know what I meant!" And God in his wisdom, nods looking down at me and says, "but this is what I meant." I frequently read on Facebook a request for people to cut and paste a particular prayer about healing cancer or Alzheimer's or some other disease as if this would make it magically disappear. I understand their wanting to do this and I have lost more people to these various diseases than I care to count. But these words don't feel like healing to me. They feel like pleading yes, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But that isn't the same as being cured. And yet...if we come together to pray and ask for God's help and patience with us, isn't that a kind of healing as well? Maybe we can't be instantly cured this way, but we can be receiving a balm for the worry. A bandage for the grief. A binding of communion with others who care. And although the scars don't disappear, the voice of those crying out in the wilderness are heard by someone.
And perhaps that is the only healing that matters sometimes.