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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
Already being a Christian when I developed anorexia, I spent five years in cycles of relapse and recovery from my eating disorder, desperately trying to lean on God through this time.
In moments of hopelessness, I cried out to Him to take away the torment, but there was no moment of thunder and lightning in which I was healed.
There was no miracle cure in a pretty box floating down from Heaven.
Why wasn’t I healed? Why do so many of us continue to struggle and stumble under the weight of these illnesses? How can it be, when we know a God who loves us and is more than capable of ‘fixing’ us in a second?
One of the most famous accounts in the Bible of a lack of healing is by the Apostle Paul. He asks three times for his ‘thorn in the flesh’ to be removed but, instead, God told him “my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Sometimes, God’s purpose for us is greater than healing on this planet. It can be so hard to understand because our perspective is biased–seeing past the earthly into the eternal is difficult for us. Earthly healing and heavenly healing can look very different.
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“But you must let endurance have its full effect so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4, ISV). Sometimes, we haven’t quite learned all we can yet from the lesson.
God would never make us struggle in the ways we do, but He does take that brokenness–a result of this broken world we live in–and use it for our own good.
Sometimes what we need is not less illness, but more Jesus.
We can always look forward to a heaven in which we will be fully healed, fully connected with God. Our questions and doubts will become irrelevant when we see Him face to face. Part of the difficulty of our lives is the contradiction of living in the middle ground of heaven being here, but not yet.
Ultimately, God has already purchased our healing on the cross. He is not lacking in any compassion or sovereignty. The covenant He made with us still stands, independent of what God does or doesn’t seem to be doing to us.
It is important to distinguish between a miracle and healing.
Healing can be manifested in a miracle but equally, it doesn’t have to happen instantly. Sometimes, healing can happen in one experience but, more often, it takes a longer period of time.
It might be, as you sit wondering why God has failed to heal you, He is actually doing exactly that.
God’s healing can often look different to how we would imagine; it is not all emotive. It might be placing a helpful therapist in your life, or a change in circumstances, such as a house move or career change which will benefit your recovery.
However, no amount of theology and theory can help us to cope with not being healed if it doesn’t become a heart truth.
Disappointment can either lead to pressing in and allowing God to mature us, or to shutting down our emotions and becoming bitter.
So how do we pursue the former?
We cope with it by acknowledging both our responsibilities and our limitations–by making practical choices which will lead us towards growth rather than bitterness.
1. We make the choice to continue to be faithful.
We keep praying and keep asking, knowing our Father delights in pouring out blessing upon us, despite it sometimes looking different than what we expect.
2. We listen to the truth as opposed to the lies.
It can be so easy in these situations to blame ourselves for not being faithful or good enough to receive healing. We need to take hold of the truth and shout it louder than the false beliefs that can seep in.
3. We bring our frustrations to God instead of hiding them away.
He knows. He sees the anger and the confusion, and He just wants to love us in it. Don’t be afraid to upset Him–He can take it!
4. We choose to be honest with others about our disappointment.
There is no shame in struggling. Our healer God sometimes doesn’t heal us and it is so hard.
Having others come alongside you to cry and pray through this stuff can be so freeing.
We will probably never understand why God works in the ways He does, and learning to be okay with it is a huge part of the process. In the confusion and the doubt, the most important thing to cling to is nothing can change God’s passionate, all-consuming love for us.
Healed or not, in this moment, we are loved and chosen, continuing to be made whole in Him.
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