It’s no fun to be sidelined by an injury. For those who enjoy a particular sport, and have joined a league or even managed to make a career out of it, getting hurt means missing out on play time. TV cameras sometimes cut to injured players on the sideline (or wherever your favorite sport relegates them to) who may be cheering on their team, or giving advice to teammates who are taking their place. Still, I suspect that most of these athletes really just want to get better, so that they can be cleared to go back into the game.
Injuries (whether physical, emotional, or mental) are a part of life. Since humankind broke God’s world (which He created “very good”), pain and suffering are a part of it. Jesus warned his disciples that there would be trials (see John 16:33).
Much of the time, we can “play through the pain”, trying to live as the Holy Spirit directs us, even if our hearts ache and our bodies are sore. Some of this pain is a “good hurt”, like the tired muscles that come from building things for others. Some of this pain is “helpful hurt”, sharing the sorrow of someone who is suffering. In these cases, we hurt because we are helping to carry the burdens of others. Other pain is just the outcome of living in a broken world: sickness, anguish, and disaster. This latter kind is anything but good, but that’s the ugly effect of sin.
However, while sin creates pain, God provides healing. It’s not always immediate (and some maladies won’t be healed until Heaven), but while we are still here on earth, not only did God design bodies for us that can recover from many smaller injuries, He will sometimes intervene with more specific healing.
In Acts chapter 3, it is recorded how a man who had been disabled his whole life was healed by Peter (through the power of God). Take a look at the man’s reaction:
He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
Acts of the Apostles 3:8 NLT
This guy didn’t stay on the ground and continue to request support from passers-by. He immediately tried out his strengthened feet, and then he appears to have tested some of their limits. He didn’t just stand up; instead, he was jumping around! And, He gave thanks to the One (God) who had healed him; I suspect that he probably praised God to anyone who would listen.
On the other hand, I think that sometimes, when God heals us (in whichever part of our selves we have been hurt), we might remain in the same state for a while. If I have been enjoying my wife and kids bringing me soup and crackers when I’m sick, I might be tempted to act sick just a little longer (at least until the soup is gone or the crackers run out). If we have been emotionally down for a while, habits of seclusion and self-pity can stick with us even after we are better. (To be clear, I’m not saying that everyone does this all the time, but there is a risk of staying where we were, even after we are healed.)
I don’t think that God heals people (whether naturally or miraculously) for no reason, though. The healing miracles of Jesus attested to the truth of His message. God is glorified when His followers give Him credit for intervening today. He is working things for good, despite humankind’s bad choices and failures.
Said another way, we aren’t healed just so that we can “feel better”, or to receive something that we are owed. There is no claim of superiority for those who have been healed, compared to those who are still suffering. Instead, when we are healed (whether physically, mentally, or spiritually), there is a purpose to it. So, let us get back “in the game” and do something with our healed body, mind, or soul.
Even the ultimate healing of the soul isn’t something to be wasted. Our salvation isn’t meant for us to just sit around and “be saved”, waiting until our seat in Heaven is ready (like a restaurant patron waiting for our name to be called). Rather, it frees us to express love, obedience and appreciation to God, by living according to His instructions (without the fear of impending punishment for our sins). In the same way, when we are healed in other ways, may we jump up (maybe figuratively) and resume a life of service and generosity to others.
To be clear, we should probably make sure that we are healthy enough to get back into our full-tilt efforts of serving God and others. Like an athlete who is going through prescribed treatment to heal up and regain strength after an injury, don’t be afraid to start slowly (as the Holy Spirit directs you), until God gives you the strength to ramp back up to where you were before (or to do even greater things, if He permits!).
And, like the grateful leper, let us praise God. However, that praise shouldn’t only be for our healing; we should also praise God for His great qualities (no matter our condition). What better way (compared to praising God) is there for us to leverage our past pain for the glory of God, and for the opportunity to show others how they can find eternal healing as well?
May you heal up (as God permits), and get back in the game! I hope that you’re eager to do so.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.