“Deep work is slow work. Its only in lifestyles as fast paced as ours that we’ve been able to convince ourselves otherwise.” Michael Gurian
Lets face it: slow healing does not feel like healing. It’s not laden with that euphoric rush of release, the after effect of a sudden breaking in from God. Nor does it seem to tell a good story, or at least not an entertaining one. Slow healing feels more like the S word really. No, not that one; this one: Sanctification. That long obedience in the same direction, as Eugene Peterson has put it. But sanctification isn’t quite what we have in mind when we pray, “God, heal me!”
Yet, slow healing is very popular with God. He seems to like it a whole lot given how much He uses it. In fact, I dare say all healing with God takes time to walk out. Yes, there are instant moments of healing—be it a sudden goodbye to some physical ailment or a breakthrough on a lifelong emotional struggle. But even these always leave us to learn to live into the healing and embrace our new identity.
My heart often wonders why God likes slow healing so much. If He’s got all that power, why not do it more instantly. It certainly would make for better PR. As it stands, we’ve all probably felt at points that He can seem a bit twisted, sadistic even, enjoying our agony for pleasure. Kinda like my junior high nemesis who used to put me in a headlock and squeal with delight as I struggled to break free.
But Jeremiah, even in the very book where is agonizing over God’s absence in his pain, still upholds that our God “…takes no pleasure in making life hard” (Lam 3:33). So there must be some other reason why in the world would he would heal like this.
I think God makes it slow so that we get to bond with him through the journey. Ever notice how well a long road trip can bond people? Its not always pleasant bonding. But over those miles and miles real relationship happens. Surface chit chat lasts about half an hour and then the deeper conversations happen. Then the car break down or a snow storm hits and you have to depend on each other.
A number of years ago I was right smack in the middle of my own season of slow healing. I was in counseling at the time. And I had been crying out to God for him to heal me from my struggle with insecurity and its propensity to lead me to self harm. As I lamented the agony of this long walk of healing, my counselor said to me, “Obviously God doesn’t want you healed yet or he would have done it. So he must be wanting to give you something still in the journey.”
Along with blowing my categories about God’s patience with me in my sin, my counselor had me slack jawed, as my friend John Blase would say. Now on the other side of that season of life, I see what he was saying. It was in this season that I began listening to the voice of God—in the the hard wrestling times, the successful times, and every time in between. This is when healing started to happen. And I got a whole lot closer to God.
Leanne Payne says true healing is really a process by which God gives us himself. A restored relationship with God is the healing. God uses all healing to give us more of himself. In fact, he is always trying to give us more of himself.
Jesus healing of the paralytic lowered through the roof top tells this story. Picture the scene with me: With a packed house and no way to get near Jesus, his friends lower him down right on top of Jesus. Jesus marvels at the faith inherent in this act and says, “Your sins are forgiven.” What a bizarre statement! Clearly, this man wants to be healed physically. But Jesus sees him and forgives his sin first. His physical healing is sort of an afterthought. In the eyes of Jesus, this man’s greatest need for healing was restored relationship with God.
In every journey of healing, God is most interested in giving us more of himself. True healing is indeed being given deeper relationship with God.
So what’s healing slowly for you? How’s the journey been?