(If you haven’t read about my miraculous experience of healing, check out part 1 here.)
So. My knees have been healed, miraculously. I no longer have pain or discomfort when walking, running, or sitting cross legged. What the actual heck! I can’t even believe it. I feel like I’ve been saved all over again – I HAVE to tell someone. So I hand pick a few friends (again, I’m new to this whole God-can-actually-do-stuff thing) and share my story.
Since they knew me, they were all excited and supportive. But some had a gleam of “Hmm….this is way outside my box, how do I handle this” in their eyes. I didn’t fault them for it; I would have felt the same way. I didn’t even mind, I was too busy absorbing my own emotions on the matter. I’m was not even fully aware of the larger picture here – which is a debate about how the church should respond to healing.
In Which I Got Discouraged
I got even more excited and decided I wanted to share my story with the small church where my husband (boyfriend then) was leading worship. I sang on the worship team sometimes, and he was more than willing to work a short testimony time into the service. Before I tell the rest of the story, know this: our church was a small Baptist church. I adored the congregation even though we were generations apart in lifestyle and opinions. We were welcomed with open arms when we started attending and throughout the time John was part of the leadership team. Their hospitality was great. Their faithfulness was evident. But this church was not known for its sensitivity to the moving and the presence of the Holy Spirit. That didn’t matter to me. I figured, who could possibly not rejoice with me when they hear what He has done!?
So, the pause in the worship came, and I (bravely, because I *hate* public speaking) shared what happened. I could barely get through it without tearing up. I was in awe of the fact that the words coming out of my mouth were true. When I finished, I remember the sound of one person clapping. As my good friend Lance would say, the rest was cricket noises. The congregation sat there in silence, just staring. John transitioned on to the next thing, but I was left wondering – was the microphone off? Did they hear me? Did they hear the part where my knees were miraculously healed? I was confused.
After church, someone (perhaps the lone clapper) patted me on the arm and thanked me for sharing. Another lady walked past me on her way out and said somewhat sternly, “We need to talk.” Like, maybe I was in trouble or something? Other than that, we went back to business as usual. I decided from then on that I would be very selective about who I shared this story with. It was too personal, too meaningful to me to be ignored or scoffed at.
The Silent Years
Let me tell you (with an apology attached) that it would be awhile before I opened my mouth again about how my knees were healed. I walked around daily on the gifts, new knees, God had given me, and would thank Him privately often. But after such perceived rejection…..ugh. And the worst part is that those who couldn’t possibly open up their box of theology to see if they could make room for my story – they’re the ones missing out. It wasn’t my story that they pushed away – they pushed away the idea that God, the eternal traffic controller of our lives who is vaguely aware of our problems, that HE actually.literally.for.real does crazy things to normal people.
So, here is my list of things NOT to do when you hear an awesome testimony:
- Laugh. (Come on, at least just try to be sensitive).
- Respond with immediate disbelief. If you check out Mark 6, you will see that it is because of disbelief that Jesus himself could not do many works in that environment. Disbelief never opens the door to faith – it slams it shut, locks it, and piles furniture in front.
- Quote your own interpretation of Scripture or theology at them. I personally might have punched someone if they started talking about how the gifts have “passed away” (like, they died or something?) and God doesn’t really do miracles anymore. Um, okay. So then how do you explain what happened to me? I’m only one of so many who have been healed by God.
*Disclaimer: There are plenty of people out there who share testimonies for bad reasons (to get attention, to be seen a certain way, to get on stage), but God can use even those people, so it’s best to simply reserve your judgment in almost all cases. There are also people out there who are straight up liars or mentally ill and need help. God gives us discernment and if we ask, He’ll help us use that gift. So this is not a blanket approval of all testimonies (especially about healing) ever given. But I don’t think we can take God too seriously at His word when we know Jesus’ primary mission was to save AND to heal (check out Mark 2 for the perfect example of this).
*Second disclaimer: I would not have believed in God’s healing power as active and alive today as easily if I hadn’t experienced it myself. This is an essential point of doctrine and orthodoxy for me, but I understand it may not be for everyone. The purpose in sharing my story is to hopefully create an awareness of His miracles for further testimonies (where He moves, there is faith, and it multiplies) and also to continue the dialogue of His role in our lives.
Instead consider doing this:
- Listening with an open heart.
- Praying and asking God to show you the truth in their testimony.
- Reading the Bible and asking God to help you SEE His truth where you may have missed it before.
- Hugging the person and thanking them for being brave enough to share something so personal.
- Offering them a smile, a clap, a wave, or any sign of positive encouragement as they share or when they’re finished (especially in a public setting).
- Dare to start praying for healing in your own life or in a situation you’ve been burdened about.
To see my favorite response yet to a healing testimony (how the Church should respond), head on over to part 3.