15 Myths and Realities of Healing

January 26th, 2018 / 13 Comments

I’m currently writing a book aimed at helping victims and those who love them. In one chapter, I address the idea that God heals. I’m not only interested in explaining how healing works, I’m also interested in explaining why many are NOT healed.

To conclude this chapter, I decided to summarize my main points with a list of what I think are 15 myths and realities about healing. I explain these in greater detail in the chapter, of course. But I think the list offers a nice summary of my chapter’s ideas.

15 Myths and Realities of Healing

1. Myth: God healed long ago but does so no longer. Reality: God always works to heal, and this was true in the past and true in the present.

2. Myth: God may choose not to heal until we beg, plead, or elevate our faith. Reality: God works to heal even before we ask.

3. Myth: To heal, God must supernaturally intervene in our lives. Reality: God is always already present and doesn’t need to “come into” our lives or circumstances.

4. Myth: We should add, “if it’s your will” to prayers asking God to heal. Reality: It’s always God’s will to heal, so this add-on is unnecessary and confusing.

5. Myth: Our pain, suffering, and abuse are part of God’s preordained plan. Reality: God’s plan does not include causing or allowing evil.

6. Myth: God only loves sometimes and is only present in some places. Reality: God always loves everyone and is always present all the time working to heal.

7. Myth: God is the only cause of healing. Reality: Creaturely causes – whether small or large – also play a role in healing.

8. Myth: God can heal singlehandedly. Reality: God cannot heal singlehandedly, because doing so would require God to control others. And God’s love is inherently uncontrolling.

9. Myth: There is natural healing, healing by doctors, and divine healing. Reality: All healing involves creaturely and divine causes.

10. Myth: God selects whom to heal and whom to allow to suffer. Reality: God works to heal everyone, but various constraints or creaturely lack of cooperation can frustrate God’s efforts to heal.

11. Myth: Those not healed did not have enough faith. Reality: Those not healed often have plenty of faith, but their bodies or factors in their environment prevent them from being healed.

12. Myth: While God doesn’t control free will creatures, God can control smaller entities in our bodies and the environment. Reality: God expresses uncontrolling love to all creatures, great and small.

13. Myth: Our prayers for healing don’t make any difference. Reality: Our prayers alter the circumstances and open up possibilities for God’s healing.

14. Myth: There is no hope for those whose hope for healing was thwarted by actors and factors. Reality: God’s healing work continues after our bodies die.

15. Myth: God only heals in the afterlife. Reality: God works to heal in this life. When we, our bodies, or other factors cooperate, we enjoy healing now.

I realize that these statements are pithy and require greater explanation. But I’d love to hear your comments about them, including ways I might improve the language. I’ve also addressed the broader issue of miracles in earlier blogs. Here’s a link, if you’re interested.

Your thoughts?

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Comments

Brandi Powell

Mr. Oord,
I’ve worked with abuse survivors since 2011. And all of them have obviously needed emotional, relational, spiritual healing. That’s where I’ve been able to help, out of my own experiences.

The most difficult question I get asked by a survivor is “Why didn’t God intervene.” “Why did God allow that person into my life.” I’ve had no satisfying, non –
Christianese answers for them. That’s why I have been so interested in the work that you are doing with essential kinosis. I am thrilled that you are working on a book about healing! Please don’t forget to think about those men and women who have survived emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual abuse or neglect. So much healing needs to be done.


thomasjayoord

Thanks so much, Brandi. The book I’m writing is aimed PRECISELY at the kind of people you mention. I hope you and others will find it helpful!


Rob Gailey

Tom – question about #5 – you start by talking about pain and suffering but end with stating God doesn’t allow or cause evil. Is there non-evil pain and suffering that can occur in our lives? If so, does God allow it or cause it? #6 mentions that God always works towards healing but what if that healing requires pain or suffering?

If God always works towards healing and a human is 100% committed to working with God towards a person’s healing, what is the cause/reason for when healing doesn’t happen? Do you believe “the cause” can be beyond the combined power of God and faithful/desiring persons? If these causes/reasons have any power, what/who created these “causes” and what sustains them to have power over God and humans who are committed to working with God to bring about full healing that God (and committed humans) desire.

Thank you for this list and for thoughtful consideration of an important topic! Sounds like it will be a great book.


Bradley Noel

Thanks, Tom. I have really appreciated your work in this area; it has proved very helpful. I confess that of all the material in Uncontrolling Love, I found the chapter on miracles to be the least convincing. Reading the book as a Pentecostal, I kept thinking “what about miracles?” and was pleased that you didn’t duck the question and instead devoted a full chapter to it. I can get part way with you – God works in cooperation – but not completely.

I appreciate the points, above. #8 causes me the greatest challenge, and may simply need rewording. Thinking of the stories of Jesus – the image of the invisible God – and reflecting on his raising the dead (for the Widow of Nain, or Lazarus), it would seem that God did indeed heal on his own. In fact while Jesus was clearly asked to help in the case of Lazarus, we’re not sure at all that anyone intervened for the Widow. He was moved by his own compassion it seems, lending credence to the idea that God did indeed heal on his own. Are we saying that God must cooperate with the boy’s body (Nain) even though dead?


thomasjayoord

Great response and questions, Bradley. In the stories you cite, there is no explicit indication that Jesus (or God) was the ONLY cause at play. In light of a various issues and factors, I’m speculating that other causes also played a role in the miracles. Those may be in the person healed/raised or in their environment. But my main point is that the biblical text NEVER says God was the ONLY actor, although it may only mention God’s action.

An example: After the last super bowl, I don’t know how many times I heard someone say, “Brady won another super bowl!” Headlines of newspapers even made such claims. And of course, this claim is right… but not completely true. One might think Brady was the ONLY actor in the win. But 40+ other players on the Patriots made a difference, as well as coaches, weather conditions, etc.

Analogously, when the Bible only mentions divine action (or Jesus’ action), we need not assume God was the ONLY actor. And especially when the biblical writers say Jesus could NOT heal sometimes because people lacked cooperative faith, we can see that other factors are involved in healing.

Hoping that helps,

Tom


thomasjayoord

Great questions, Rob. I do think some pain and suffering is not genuinely evil. When we require our students to study for tests, it may cause them to suffer, but we think it’s for their good. I don’t think God causes or allows even non-evil suffering, in the sense of singlehandedly causing or allowing. This gets to my point that God cannot control others — for their good or ill.

As for the second paragraph, I argue that factors and actors in the bodies or environments may stifle God’s work to heal those 100% committed to working with God. God necessarily gives these resistant factors and actors their existence and power, because God necessarily loves ALL creation, great and small. So God CANNOT control even the smallest units of reality, let alone the most complex. But God can and does influence all things great and small.

I hope that helps, Rob. I address your good question in more detail earlier in this chapter. I also address it in my book, The Uncontrolling Love of God (IVP Academic).


Robert Clegg

I hope my prior message got through to you. And, now, Healing: “The Field” by Lynne McTaggart, 2008; “The Way of the Explorer” by Dr. Edgar Mitchell, 1996, and “Transcending the Speed of Light” by Marc Seifer, Ph.D, 2008, all address the Zero Point Field, an Energy Field throughout and verified by current Theoretical Physicists. And, Healing is addressed.


Robert Clegg

Our Eternal Soul is created and born in the Image of our God/Creator in Heaven, neither male nor female anymore than our Creator is a male or female. Our Soul enmeshes with our physical body, a DNA physical body as a result of evolution…and our Soul has Free Will, and this is a training exercise for our Soul, kind of like riding a bucking bronco, and running an Obstacle Course on Earth. We suffer due to Free Will of Mankind, Forces of Nature, and Accidents, from the get-go including ancient Jews. Our Purpose on Earth is to serve others.


Janine M. Watkins

Hello, Tom, I’m delighted that you are exploring this complex question. One of the significant challenges that confuses religious and non-religious people is the use of healing and cure. While it may be passed off as a matter of semantics, they are different, but people use them interchangeably which can lead to disbelief/disappointment/loss of hope, and further suffering. I served in healthcare for nearly 50 years, first as a nurse, then as a chaplain, and witnessed both healing and cure.
For my MA I did a phenomenological research study with people living with chronic health conditions to explore how faith and belief influence healing. They knew they would not be cured, but they experienced healing in various ways. I also explored dimensions of spiritual and psychological development; issues and theologies of suffering; the relationship between prayer and healing; and the lived experience of illness.
Unfortunately, I only have my thesis in hard copy. If it might be useful to your work, you are welcome to use it. It isn’t published. I don’t do well with e-mail conversations, but if face-to-face is helpful, I live in Boise and visit friends in Nampa. If not, blessings on your work–it is needed. Peace and Joy~Janine


Brandon

Thank you for your thoughtful work in this area.

In light of #11, what thoughts do you have regarding persons born with Down Syndrome or with Asperger’s or autism? What does “healing” even mean for such persons? Some Downs and Asperger students I’ve had in college have perceived their ‘differences’ as graces to be welcomed, not as deficiencies to be fixed. On the other hand, one Asperger’s student shared her parents’ view that she was born flawed and wanted desperately to be healed of her ‘abnormality.’

How do you conceptualize what the ‘fullest degree’ of healing entails, or might ‘healing’ be better conceptualized as a process more than a realizable, ideal, static state.


thomasjayoord

Awesome questions, Brandon!

I suspect that most Downs and Aspergers people have conditions that God cannot overcome in this life. But I can imagine that in the afterlife, with another body or no body, such conditions will not hold.

You’re right that some considered “disabled” think of themselves as rightly abled and do not seek healing. Perhaps in some cases, such thinking makes sense. I think we must respect the wishes of such people. And given my speculation about bodies in the afterlife, perhaps our views on the matter are not essential.


thomasjayoord

I’d love to see your work, Janine! Thanks!


thomasjayoord

Thanks for these insights, Robert.


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