Riding the train to school this week, I found myself reading the blog of one of my favorite people: Rae Lewis-Thorton. (If you’re not familiar with her, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.) HIV positive for over 22 years, Rae is an Emmy Award winning AIDS activist, as well as a minister who uses her story to encourage others. On this particular day, she wrote an incredible post about Christians would approach her and give her a variety of reasons why she’s not healed, and remedies to become healed. Clearly, God is more than able to heal someone of HIV/AIDS, (He’s done it for my friend Danny Wallace. I know Danny is not the sole case of a person being healed from HIV/AIDS, but he’s the one that I know personally.) but sometimes, perhaps, it’s not in His plan.
Sickness and disease, especially HIV/AIDS and other long-term, life-changing diseases, are some of the most uncomfortable things for Christians to talk about. Perhaps it’s primarily because we don’t understand what it feels like to be in that person’s place. We know the, “by his stripes we are healed,” and, “His grace is sufficient,” and, “God is able to do exceeding abundantly,” scriptures by heart, and yet we can’t figure out why a person would still be sick, especially with something like HIV/AIDS. Why hasn’t God healed them?
One of the ministry capacities I serve in is to teach all the new members of my church about our perspective on missions and evangelism, as well as instructing them on how to share their testimony, during our monthly membership seminar. During the second part of the session, we discuss a strategy created by Rick Warren called “The P.E.A.C.E. Plan.” The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is a five-pronged strategy to attack the five biggest global issues through empowering individuals to have an impact locally and globally.
In order to combat the giant of sickness and preventable disease, the “C” in P.E.A.C.E. stands for “Care for the sick.” Although it fits nicely into the P.E.A.C.E. acrostic, it’s also the most appropriate thing that we, as Christians can do. Yet some would assume that’s wrong, saying that we should be healing people instead. While, yes, there is a time and a place for that, sometimes God gets more glory out of a person’s life if their disease remains with them. And, ultimately, God’s glory is the most important thing. We were created to give Him glory. How that happens, only He really know. This is one area that I’ve given up trying to figure out God’s plan.
This lesson is a very personal one for me because my younger sister has Cerebral Palsy. As a family, we’ve been through all kinds of surgeries and procedures, attended all sorts of prayer services and healing crusades, and yet, she’s still not healed. Is it our faith? Is it her faith? Why isn’t she healed? Many nights I’ve laid awake, crying, questioning, searching, trying to figure out why God hasn’t healed her. I don’t? know what God’s doing in her life, But I know this — God is still good, still sovereign, still in control, and yes, He is still God, in spite of what I do or don’t understand about His plans.
Since having this revelation, I’ve changed the way I pray for my sister and others as it relates to their healing. Instead of praying for healing up front, why don’t we pray for God’s will to be accomplish through whatever situation or disease a person may be dealing with? If that comes through healing, so be it, but perhaps God has chosen that person to carry that disease because He knew that they would be faithful and not turn away from Him because of it, and, in fact, will provide a more incredible testimony. Perhaps He sees that there are people around that person that can only be touched when they see how that person handles their affliction. Perhaps God would gain more glory from that person’s life if they were not healed, than if they were.
We don’t know all of what God has planned out for us and those around us. Yet sometimes we (myself included) think we know God’s perfect will for their situation. While yes, occasionally God may grant us insight and wisdom in to their situation, more often we speak into their lives based on our own personal assumptions and selfish, individual desires instead of looking at what will bring the most glory to God.