I read this passage about Jesus’ ministry a few days ago. I experienced awe and disappointment at the same time:
A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all. The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel, ([biblegateway passage=”Matthew 15:30-31″]).
This beautiful passage comes in the context of the busiest season of Jesus’ ministry and maybe the pinnacle of his success in terms of follwership and acclaim. Again and again, he heals people’s physical symptoms—all the while mindful of the permanent solution he’d provide for their spiritual needs—mainly in response to their faith. Those with great faith who were beginning to understand that Jesus was God’s Messiah and those with just enough faith to know that the man from Nazareth had the power to heal, all of them received healing for their ailments.
It’s a beautiful picture of Jesus’ concern for the physical hardships of our lives. Even though he is God, he’s God in the flesh. There, on that hillside, sat a man who was uniquely qualified to understand the physical (and emotional, mental and spiritual) hardships of the people gathered to meet him. I would have loved to be there that day to see him heal and to watch the responses. It would have been awesome.
This is all great.
Handling disappointment when Jesus doesn’t answer
What do you do when he doesn’t provide healing? Next to those verses in my Bible was a note I wrote to Jesus several years ago after reading this same text:
“Why, Father, won’t you heal Owen? Why does he have to struggle so? I know you’ve blessed and rescued him from so much. I just wish he could get a break.”
What happens when you’re disappointed with God for not pulling through? If I had been on that mountainside with Jesus, presenting my sick son to him, would he have healed him? Would I have walked away disappointed? What would have happened to my faith as a result?
Well, I have stood on a figurative mountainside, my son in my arms, pleading with God to heal him. I’ve begged. I’ve cried. I’ve pleaded. But, no healing; at least not in the way I would have liked or in the timing I preferred. I’ve watched as others have faced that same reality. It hurts. It’s disappointing.
Here’s the key: Only Jesus is good enough and wise enough to know when to heal and when to withhold healing. Only he is just and loving enough to know when to allow one of his children to walk through something difficult. Only he knows when the man whose son isn’t healed will respond in faith in spite of the disappointment, and continue to respond in faith as he walks down the road.
That’s the path God has allowed us to walk—with his Son’s love and his Spirit’s guidance—for several years. And, even though I’ve been disappointed many times, I don’t resent him. I trust him even more. You see, all the people Jesus healed on the hillside that day eventually passed away. They discovered that physical healing is only temporary. I hope, in addition to freedom from physical pain, that each of these people experienced the type of faith in Christ that brings inner change, saving faith and eternal life—real healing.
If you’re disappointed with God, it’s OK to ask him a series of gut-level-honest questions. I have. I still do. And, the act of asking them and then being willing to wait has produced faith like I never could have imagined.
I pray he’ll do the same for you.