The Cost of Healing - Tera Bradham DeNeui
Healing eliminates excuses. Healing comes with a cost, and it comes with a responsibility.
That’s not what we typically think about when we imagine healing, right? We imagine freedom, joy, and gratitude. We imagine all the activities we could do if our bodies would cooperate with us. We imagine no more doctor appointments, supplements, or diet changes.
But we don’t imagine that another hurt or problem would be around the corner, because life would still be life. We don’t imagine that others would expect more from us because our capacities would have increased. And we certainly don’t imagine the biblical responsibility to help others heal after we have experienced our own healing (2 Corinthians 1:4).
We think of healing largely in terms of our own selfishness: What could I do if I felt better? What would life look like (for me) if I didn’t live in chronic pain? What doors would be opened if I no longer had this illness? Everything in these ideas centers on our own lives and pains.
Not only does our self-focused perspective drive us into a spiral of discontent, but it also turns our physical healing into an idol. Now, you might be asking, “Tera, I know it’s God’s will for me to be healed, so how could I idolize healing?” Well, all idols are not bad things; idols can be good things given the wrong amount of authority in our lives. Just because we’re not building golden calves doesn’t mean that the idea of healing couldn’t have plopped down on the throne of our hearts in place of God.
Anything other than loving God (who He actually is, mind you, not just the version of God you had pre-illness) and glorifying Him can be taken out of context and turned into an idol. So, ask yourself: who would God be to you if you never experienced healing from your illness on this side of heaven?
If you can respond that He would still be a good, albeit sometimes mysterious, Father, then chances are you have a surrendered perspective. If you said, “I can’t fathom living in that much pain, but I believe God’s grace would be sufficient for me,” that’s okay, too. The idea of many more years of pain and limitation can be overwhelming to us, which is why most of us avoid it. If you thought, even down in the bowels of who you are, that God would not be good or worthy of worship if He did not heal you, I would also tell you that it’s okay to feel that way. But God does not want you to stay there. He wants you to be able to love Him and trust Him in every circumstance life throws at you, regardless of if it turns out the way you’d like.
God absolutely can and does heal us physically, so I am not trying to say that God will not take away your physical infirmity. It’s just that both healing and not being healed come with a cost. If we are healed, we will have to contend with the cost of growing through different challenges than we’ve faced before. If we’re not healed, we will have to contend with the cost of developing beautiful fruit amidst the ugliness of debilitating physical need. Either way, there will be a cost, because being a disciple of Jesus comes with a cost. This cost does not exempt those who suffer from physical limitation just because they have already experienced much suffering. Rather, this cost invites us into a story bigger than our physical suffering, a story bigger than anything we could ever ask or imagine.
The most unfathomable news of the gospel is that sin was an even more unconquerable pain than any physical limitation could be, and yet Jesus died to free us from it. More than anything going on in our bodies, Jesus cares about our hearts, first. One day, He will free us from our physical bondage, as well, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). But until then, He wants a greater freedom for us than physical healing: spiritual wholeness. And spiritual wholeness can be found with or without our physical healing.
When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), He’s asking us to count the cost. What is the cost of wholeness in your life? Perhaps it’s giving up the idol of healing, or perhaps it’s giving up the cynicism that has left you afraid to ask for healing. Maybe it’s forgiving those who have excluded you because of your physical difference, or maybe it’s being brave enough to serve with whatever gifts you have, even if that looks different than it does for other people.
God wants you healed. All of you: body, mind, soul, and spirit. And the greatest news is that you’ll never be able to out-give God. When you submit to the cost of your healing, that cost can be transformed to the privilege of your life. Cost is swallowed up in the privilege of knowing the God of the universe, who suffered, and died, and rose again so that the ultimate cost of death would be abolished forevermore.
You have a choice. You may not be able to control what your body does, but you have a choice over what path your mind wanders. You can choose to walk in healing, accepting the easy yoke of Jesus, or you can choose to walk in the burden of unsurrendered hopes, accepting a weight you were never meant to carry. Living on this side of the Fall, our world is broken and full of hurt. But living on this side of the cross, we know that we can be more than conquerors in this world.
This isn’t about simply counting the cost for the sake of sacrifice and sharing in our Savior’s sufferings, although God will transform a life through that intimacy with Him. Counting the cost is about sacrificing for the purpose of love. Jesus didn’t suffer on the cross just because He thought it would be fun for His followers to deny themselves and suffer with Him; He died for you because He loves you and wants you to have an abundant life of freedom (John 10:10). The natural overflow of loving a God who gave His life for our freedom prompts us to count our costs in joy.
God is calling you to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27), no matter what it costs you. This is going to look differently for each of us, but the formula to change is asking God to search our hearts and then being willing to change. To love the Lord more than we love a pain-free life will require a diligent pursuit of God and His Word. To long for God’s kingdom to come more than we long for our physical healing to come is going to require gut-wrenching surrender. To place our hope more in who God is than in what He provides is going to cost us the beliefs that keep us fenced in false security.
The journey toward complete wholeness and healing is arduous, and it will come with a cost. But with the Holy Spirit by your side, that cost will be the greatest privilege of your life. Come, friend. Count the cost. The invitation is open, and the Healer is willing.
Tera Bradham DeNeui is an author, Bible teacher, and podcast host. As the founder of the Heal Ministry, she writes and creates resources for those living in chronic pain from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She loves to talk to animals like they're humans, curl up with a great book in an equally great blanket, and help others see God's faithfulness amidst their suffering.
You can find Tera at: https://www.terabradham.com