Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why Won't God Heal Amputees?

I haven't posted for a few days, this super sized one will make up for that...

So I was perusing the interwebs last night, and stumbled across this website, Why Won't God Heal Amputees And I have to say, I had never thought about this before. The website makes arguments against the existence of God, and one of the main tenets that it uses is that there is no evidence of God ever healing an amputee.

The author argues that surely there are amputees who have prayed for their limbs to be healed/restored, and God has never answered their prayers. Does God's will just happen to not allow for healing of amputee's limbs? Do we arrogantly say that no amputee has ever had faith in God to heal them? Why can we so easily think that God can cure someone's cancer, or heal the sick, but never think of God restoring a limb to an amputee?

In reading this, I thought of three Biblical cases where God does restore/regenerate:

  • Jesus healing the soldier's ear after Peter cut it off - Luke 22:51, all gospels have the soldier's ear being cut, only Luke mentions that Jesus healed him
  • Jesus healing the a man's "shriveled hand" - Synoptic gospels, Matt 12, Mark 3, Luke 6
  • The lame walking - Lots of gospel references, but Matt 11:5, Matt 15:31, Luke 7:22 will suffice

Despite thinking of those examples, the website and the claims stuck with me.

To be honest, I haven't had serious doubt about God in a long time. In several years. I've felt very solid in my faith.  But that website shook it. Shook it bad. I had a hard time coming to grips with the information and had a very long night, and a very long morning today with it rolling around in my head.

That is an unpleasant experience for me. Just dealing with the logical arguments was very troubling. And they are not arguments that can or should be belittled, explained away, or just ignored. Why wouldn't God heal an amputee? Why could a group of Christians not get together and just "pray away" all diseases, or at least all cancer or something? If God can heal individual disease/sickness, why not petition him for healing disease on a larger scale? Why don't we pray away world hunger? Or violence? Or, etc etc.

Now, these are not the first times I've ever thought about these particular things (except the amputee one). And I've talked to people before about these sort of issues, and have not had problems with it. However, I don't know exactly what it was about my mental state last night/today but my previous answers were no longer acceptable to me. They were cop-outs. And I didn't have anything else.

However, I brought a book with me to work today. And in an effort to ignore what was going on in my head after trying to pray for about....ohhh, the last 13 hours or so give or take small times of sleeping during the night, I began to read where I had previously left off. The book is Wide Awake by Erwin McManus--and is a great book.  I had left off in a discussion of the gospel passage of a woman touching Jesus in a crowd to heal her hemorrhaging.

I found this passage strangely dealing with exactly what was going on in my head. And it comforted me. And I think that now I understand things that maybe I forgot, or never understood well enough previously.  I just don't think I took exactly this perspective of thought before...and I'm incredibly glad it was introduced to me. So I'm posting it.

The first section of the book that was awaiting me is as follows:

We find here a reminder of the tension we all face--so much to do and so little time to do it. It also gives us a more realistic picture of a life lived in the presence and the power of God. It is important to note that Jesus was extraordinarily aware of every time power left him. He didn't just send out power like a divine generator. Would you think that the best thing to do if you were God walking among us would be to just sent out a general power burst to everyone who needed help? There are way too many needs among far too many people.

Wouldn't it be easier to just in one single swoop go, "Bam!" (think Emeril, the world-class chef). Everyone would be healed. Wouldn't it be better if Jesus had performed mass healings? Everybody is better. Why feed the five thousand? Feed the fifty thousand! Make it impressive, feed all of Jerusalem. End world hunger.

We have to work through the fact that Jesus did not heal everyone. He didn't make every blind person see and every crippled person walk. He didn't feed everyone who was hungry. When this woman touched Jesus and was healed, he stopped because his power did not emanate from him to just anyone. There was not just contact but a connection. His power brought her healing through her faith.


Even Jesus had limitations. This is pretty unusual, when you consider the fact he was God. I don't know if you've noticed, but there were a lot of important things Jesus didn't get done while he walked among us. He didn't end wars. I wish he had, but he didn't. He didn't bring an end to violence. Would have been great, but it didn't happen. Jesus did not end the condition of human suffering. It would have been an important thing, a good thing, but he didn't do it. He didn't stop the rapid spread of devastating diseases. It would have been a good thing to do, but he didn't do that. Strangely enough, though healing was important, he didn't heal everyone, and though feeding people was important, he didn't feed everyone.

What sometimes is hard for us to accept is that Jesus Christ, when he came into the world, didn't come to do everything in that moment. He came to do the most important things. He came to do what no one else could do on our behalf. Jesus came into this world and offered his life as a sacrifice for us so that through his death on the cross, we enter into relationship with God himself. While there were many good things to do, from the mind of God, this was the most essential thing to do when he came into history. Why?

Well, to begin with, he's coming back to take care of all the other problems later. In the meantime, what God has done is put the welfare and future of humanity in our hands. This is what God did at the beginning, back in the garden of Eden. This time, though, he re-creates us so that our lives might be a gift to humanity. We are God's strategy for creating a bigger world. We all have a part to play. For some, that part is bigger than for others, yet all of us are critical and essential.

By the way, if Jesus didn't do everything, guess what? Neither can you. He left things undone, and he is God.