A look at the church’s Article of Faith on divine healing helps us understand how God heals.
XIV. Divine Healing
14. We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science.
(2 Kings 5:1-19; Psalm 103:1-5; Matthew 4:23-24; 9:18-35; John 4:46-54; Acts 5:12-16; 9:32-42; 14:8-15; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; James 5:13-16)
We believe in a God who heals. As Nazarenes we have clearly affirmed this in our 14th Article of Faith. We believe in faith-filled prayer for the healing of the sick. We preach this with joy, teach it to the next generation, and practice it every time we have the chance.
I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene. That is where I was shaped as a woman and follower of Jesus Christ. I met my husband in the church; we formed a family, and today we minister as the pastors of a thriving congregation in the southern part of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Many testimonies come to mind of healing that God has done—some of them so glorious that they gave way to a spiritual awakening in the congregations where they occurred.
Nonetheless, I can also remember the times in which God did not heal, or that the healing did not come in the way we expect. It’s worthwhile to reflect on this more deeply.
Joy, then heartache
I was finishing my formation in seminary alongside my husband and we were ready to begin our first pastorate in a small congregation on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The church anxiously awaited us, and we, along with our three-year-old girl and a baby on the way, were happy to begin serving the Lord there.
Everything was ready for our family and our congregation to enjoy this new season in our lives. Our son was born on the expected date and we experienced the blessing of life once more. But this moment of joy would also bring moments we will never forget.
Soon after he was born, our son was presenting respiratory problems and would have to go to an intensive care unit. Our newborn’s life was at stake and the prognostic was uncertain. My husband and I faced the moment with the same faith that sustained us during so many difficult moments in our lives. We trusted once again in our God, and we prayed for our child to be healed. The church, friends, family, and even people we did not know joined us in prayer for healing as we waited on God.
But the days went by and I could not concentrate on my post-partum recuperation. I lost my appetite and only thought about crying out to the Lord for the life of my son. Not being able to have him by my side broke my heart. Every time we would be allowed to see him, all I could do was to hold his tiny hand and pray.
Four days after his birth, the doctors informed us that our son’s situation had gotten worse and that there was nothing else they could do. We were asked to say good-bye to our precious son. My husband and I entered the intensive care unit one last time, we got close to our child, held him in our arms, and with tears in our eyes and a mixed sensation of pain and hope, we prayed one last time. We left the unit and just a few minutes later the doctors informed us that our little boy had gone to be with the Lord.
Heartache, then healing
This experience marked my life and that of my family. After going through this painful situation, we understood more profoundly that God heals in many ways, not just physically. The pain of imagining our boy accompanying us in ministry pushed us towards having an encounter with another aspect of our healing God.
After going through this painful situation, we understood more profoundly that God heals in many ways, not just physically.
God healed our hearts. He restored our family. God demonstrated love to us through the brothers and sisters who walked alongside us during this entire process. And He helped us experience a supernatural dimension of faith unlike any other situation would have allowed us to experience.
It’s easy to reduce divine healing to the physical aspect. Nevertheless, God wants to heal in many ways. Psalm 147:3 shows us the God who heals our emotions, because “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
It’s easy to reduce divine healing to the physical aspect. Nevertheless, God wants to heal in many ways.
We can also affirm that there is no healthier life than the one that walks in holiness, even when his or her body is ill. The Apostle Paul teaches this in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
Many people throughout their Christian journey have changed destructive habits for others that are beneficial to their physical, mental, and emotional health. The Lord helps us value that which we did not care for, including our health, as the Apostle Paul expresses in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we consider that our bodies form part of a whole and that God sees us that way, then we will be better prepared to comprehend that God heals in many ways, and not always as we expect. In their book Fully Alive: Discovering the Adventure of Healthy and Holy Living, Jerry and Larry Hull affirm the following: “We can look around us or at the mirror that stares back at us and find limited, flawed, and handicapped people. The route to comprehensive health begins when we recognize our limitations and accept them as opportunities, challenges and adventures” (p. 15-16).
Healing, however God chooses
When we refer to divine healing, it is important to avoid the temptation to believe that God is at our beck-and-call to heal us whenever we request it, as if it were His obligation to do what we want. This false concept has wreaked havoc on the church, leading many to follow a God who seems more like a cosmic magician instead of the sovereign God who desires to manifest himself with power over His children in the ways He chooses.
Despite the painful experience of losing our son, my husband and I assumed the commitment to pastor the congregation that awaited us, and during the years that we ministered there, God used our precious brothers and sisters as well as other minister friends to heal our wounds. A few years later, the Lord blessed us with the arrival of another son who today is growing rapidly, and who alongside his sister accompany us in our ministry efforts.
God wants to heal in many ways.
During the years we have been in ministry, through different opportunities we find that God has placed couples close to us who had been through or were going through the pain of losing a baby, to whom we were able to minister to and help experience this other aspect of divine healing.
Let us pray with faith, trusting that the response to the pleas for healing God has prepared for us will come when and how He decides, because God is sovereign. Let us learn to fully trust and rest in our Lord.
Erika Rocha is a pastor, along with her husband, Marco, of the Villa Lugano Church of the Nazarene in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Holiness Today, November/December 2016
Please note: This article was originally published in 2016. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.