[I just got back from my trip to Bethel church in Redding, CA. I went to Bethel primarily to receive prayer for my arthritis. I also went partly to experience what was going on at Bethel firsthand. The last several months I have been exposed to the teachings, values and testimonies that have come out of Bethel and I felt like I should go at least once in this season. In the next two posts I am going to share about the most important things that happened for me on the trip.]
In this first post I just want to share about what happened with my arthritis.
Friday night we arrived in Bethel and after settling in several of us went to inner healing prayer appointments and others went to a service at Bethel. The next morning I went into the “Encounter Room” before it was my turn to head into the healing rooms.
I went in and was prayed over and absolutely nothing happened. Honestly, I have felt the presence of God more in quiet times in my apartment.
For weeks I had been asking God to either heal me or let me know that He was not going to heal me on this trip and I received neither. So what was my response?
Well, this morning I helped lead a worship set at Pihop, and that is pretty indicative of my response. My response to not getting what I wanted and have been praying for a long time was simply to continue praying for my healing (I received more prayer the next day), continue with life, and continue worshiping God.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not want to minimize my very real disappointment. I have written previously about how praying for healing of my arthritis is a very vulnerable place for me. When I was a kid and prayed for healing and it did not come it really undermined my trust in God and was the primary reason I doubted His love for me and His character. To be praying for healing for arthritis again and only to still not see it happen is like taking my finger and tracing a scar on my heart. It was very discouraging to not experience anything, even as people around me were getting healed.
The reason I did not stay there very long, and ultimately have chosen to react the way that I have is that very quickly after my prayer session I had to take a friend across town to her inner healing prayer appointment and I took the opportunity to spend some time alone with God. Walking back and forth on a gravel driveway I just talked to God and about how I was feeling.
Then as I looked up I saw the beautiful mountains and bright big blue sky above the dingy buildings that are on the fringes of Redding. It was mundanely majestic. In that moment where I was trying to sort out what had just happened and what it meant for my life the sublime beauty around me brought me to the bigger picture of both my life and the world stage and some real basics. I was brought to a place where my heart simply said, “God is good. God does heal people today even heals people of arthritis. For some reason, He has not healed me yet and has not told me why, but God is still good.”
God’s goodness was not dependent upon if I got what I wanted, or ever do. I trust that God is good in a categorical way beyond my circumstances or what I see in the world or experience in life because that is His nature. Even if I took an evidenced base approach to judging God’s qualities, God’s goodness is testified to in a thousand and one ways in my life and my world that the bad things tend to distract me from. Considering just my personal life, I have an amazing life with a bright future, even with my arthritis, and I love it. Many people in this world would quite literally kill to have it. So descending into despair or doubt or self-pity over this one area of my life would not really make sense.
I also made a choice to try not to “figure out” why I was not healed. God had been speaking to me in the previous week in ways that only made sense after not getting healed. After I did not get healed my analytical mind started turning and I started to try and figure it out. I thought, “Well maybe if I had fasted for one more day…or maybe I needed to pray six hours instead of five…then I would have been healed…” and other nonsense. I knew these thoughts were ridiculous and did not make any sense considering only the way Jesus healed people in scripture. Supernatural healing is a gift from God and you don’t earn it. Additionally, I humbly acknowledge my limits that if Holy Spirit does not reveal to me why the healing has not happened yet, I am certainly not going to figure it out.
Later, I realized this whole situation had also exposed a separate answer to prayer. In January I drew up a vision for my life. This was one of the things that I asked for…
- I want a consistent healthy relationship with God. I want as many experiences of His goodness and Love that I know that I am loved regardless of my circumstances and I do not let my present circumstances dictate what I believe about His character.
In this moment of disappointment and frustration it was revealed that God has fulfilled this desire of my heart. In the past, not getting healed would have discouraged me and I would have questioned if God was real, if God was good, or if God healed. However, after many months and weeks of God shaping my heart over the past season, this is no longer true. I pray that my rootedness in God’s love and my trust in His character regardless of my circumstances only increases from here.
In my next post I just will offer some thoughts that have been brewing in my mind for some time…