I said yesterday that when I started praying for miracle healing, I pictured total and instantaneous. It is then easy to speculated that if that isn't how God is working, that he isn't really working. But at least two stories in the Bible tell me otherwise. (I would love it if you could point me to others!)
9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. - 2 Kings 5
Both men asked for healing. Both men received healing. Neither in the way or timeline they expected. Still, it was all of God and to His glory. God didn't ask much, just (humbling) obedience. His ability, was in no way limited by human reaction, but in these cases, His work was only displayed once hearts showed a willingness to do whatever was asked, even when instruction didn't make sense.
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. - John 9
I'm sure the man in John 9 was elated the end results, but how easily it would have been to play the comparison game, to compare his own journey to the one recorded in John 5, when a man tried to received healing on his own effort and Jesus stepped in and bypassed all human effort to bring healing instead:
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”Not only was Naaman plain out mad (insulted) by what he was instructed to do to the point of almost not even trying it God's way at all, but once he did go through the motions (maybe faith expressed outwardly even if his heart didn't yet sinc with such belief inwardly?) how easily he could have given up after a few dips in the river, even after six times, when he was so close to full obedience, when he wasn't seeing the desired results yet. If he had a cheerleader standing on the river bank, "Keep keeping on!" would have been the needed cheer after those first few dunks. I think this is a great example of acting out faith even when the emotions aren't quite there yet, doing the actions, before the heart is even fully in life yet, trusting that the attitudes of grace will follow the lifestyle of faithfulness.
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Edited to add, I really appreciate My friend Debbie's Mar 17, 2013 thoughts on gradual healing, Waiting and Walking in His Healing.
Mark 8:25This turned out to be the second in a series of 4 different posts, as I wrestled though this issue of healing. They are all linked by looking at the February, 2013 links, or going to the end of God's Paint Brush.
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.