Going to the prayer room is good. Breathing is also good. Unfortunately, my dysfunction with the latter is interfering with my ability to do the former. After getting fevery, but not much else on Wednesday, recovering well on Thursday and going into IHOP feeling much better on Friday, I woke up Saturday unsure about where oxygen and I stood with each other.
Now, a dose of Mucinex and about three bajillion Kleenex later, I am again sitting at home, knowing my worship team is about to rock it out at the 4:00am set. And I am sitting at home. Gosh, I’m going to be glad when Jesus is on the earth and this whole silly sickness thing is over with.
Lest I devolve completely into juvenile whining — as tempting as that sounds right now — I want to quickly own that these past few days have been anything but a total loss. For instance, I’ve had a lot of time for silence and solitude. (Remember this post? Yeah. This is not quite what I envisioned.) I’ve been able to jump into some study on Zechariah, as much as my brain will allow, and I’m getting more excited about it the more I get into it.
I have also been thinking a lot about the Millennial Reign. I said it lightly earlier, but this little bit of time is once more throwing into perspective the whole idea of no more sickness, no more death, no more sorrow. Between myself and the large number of other people on the NightWatch (and the day as well) who have been getting sick, I find myself daily longing for the rule of Christ on the earth. I thought of this quote from the book Spirit of Life by Jurgen Moltmann:
When freedom is close, the chains begin to hurt. If there were no such thing as freedom, or if every hope for liberation in us were dead, we should get used to our chains and, once having got used to them, should no longer feel them. ‘Bend down so low, ’til down don’t bother you no more’, said the sad wisdom of the black slaves in the Southern states of Amercia. Probably all of us, in our different ways, have got so much accustomed to the negations of life that we do not notice them any more. ‘Happy in forgetting / the things that can’t be helped’, lied a popular German song during the Second World War. But if positive experiences let us suddenly perceive that things can be changed after all, and that we do not have to put up with life’s denials, then we become restless, and begin to suffer, and to contradict, and to resist. Because of these experiences, what we thought was impossible — and what we were intended to think was impossible — begins to seem possible after all. The chains begin to hurt, for we already sense that we have the power to break them.
I love that quote. I have felt it so much in the area of sickness lately. Between our evil-seasonal-not-of-the-Lord-flu-bug, the number of people I’ve known who have chronic problems, and even, sadly, the people I’ve known recently who have died, these chains of sickness and death are beginning to hurt. That’s a good thing, though painful. It helps motivate me to keep going back in the place of prayer and asking for healing, for myself and for others. It helps remind me that sickness, death, and pain are not our portion in Christ. This is not how He set up His kingdom to work and He is actually not okay with the fact that suffering has its way on the planet right now. I’d rather be pained by these chains than be blandly consigned to them on this side of eternity.
Yet this also leads into another train of thought I’ve been having on healing lately. I was speaking just yesterday with a friend of mine, and we were discussing the idea of positive confession. She was musing over why people considered living in unreality to be more spiritual than admitting to pain. Her personal example was that she had said aloud, “I don’t feel good.” A person who was with her at the time replied, “Don’t say that!” as if not confessing to the sickness would prevent her from getting sick.
Having been in Charasmatic-y circles for a number of years now, and having had quite a bit of exposure to healing/deliverance prayer, I can think of similar experiences. I probably have actually said these kinds of things at one point or another. Actually, I am almost certain I have said similar things. In theory, the theology that sparks this kind of practice sounds good. But when theory collides with reality, we find ourselves baffled (or in denial) as to why it’s not quite working like we think it should.
There is some serious truth to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies, inner vows, negative confessions and the like. As another friend wisely pointed out, there’s a big difference between saying, “I don’t feel well,” and, “I always get sick.” There’s a difference between saying, “Wow, I’m upset that this has happened to me again,” and saying, “Of course it happened to me; this kind of stuff always does.” Words can be extremely powerful, and there is plenty of practical and biblical evidence to back that up (Prov 12:18, 16:24; Jas 3:6, etc.).
But at the same time, willing for good health long enough and hard enough doesn’t always make it happen. Saying “I feel great” through a raging fever and hacking cough doesn’t necessarily make it true. Laying hold of perfect health through faith rarely winds up being as simple of an equation as it seems like it should be. If there’s really something to the concept of speaking life over yourself, and really something to the concept of “your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22), then why isn’t it an instant cure-all?
When wrestling with this issue, we often question ourselves and each other in terms of quantity and quality of faith. “How much faith do I have…?” or “Do I really believe I can be healed tonight?” This also explains our panic over admitting to feeling unwell. We’re trying to tap into that formula where we have reached a high enough level of faith to tip the scales and make our sickness go away.
But when looking at our faith level and our positive or negative confessions, the question should not really be, “how much?” or “what kind?” but rather, “in whom?” The woman with the flow of blood for twelve years was not healed because she had great faith in the concept of healing. She was healed because she knew Who it was she had to get ahold of in order to to be restored.
Just like faith is not believing in healing hard enough to get it, true “positive confession” is not repeatedly chanting “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful. I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful” (pardon the cheesy reference). Positive confession means testifying to the truth of Who it really is who has overcome the world. Positive confession means not resigning yourself to the chains of this present evil age, and not taking them lying down. Positive confession means giving glory where glory is due and proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ to hold true in the face of all opposition. The confession is not primarily about our immediate circumstance, but the big picture, and how that big picture can affect us now.
Right now, I don’t feel particularly well. That’s not negative confession; that’s a statement of fact. However, I also know that Jesus has conquered sin, death, and the grave. I know that all things have been put under His feet, though I don’t yet see all of it (Heb 2). I know that He does heal, He is willing and able to heal me in an instant, and that sickness is not my portion in Him. I know that one day, all sickness and death will be done away with, forever. I know that even in this day and age, He wants to manifest His kingdom if we ask. I know that I don’t want to stop asking Him to break in with power until He comes back or I go to be with Him first. I know that He responds to the prayers of His saints and He loves to break in with healing. And if I do say so myself, that’s some pretty positive confession.