One of my readers suggested I write about my church here in San Jose and spiritual healing. Since there is much supernatural, spontaneous healing in my church, I decided that this was one topic worth writing about in that area, and that perhaps it could provide my readers with insights into the question of healing from Lyme disease.
My church is evangelical, or non-denominational, and based on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is mildly charismatic, but for the most part, people don't shout "Amen!" from the pews every two seconds, or roll in the aisles, or bowl newcomers over with exaggeratedly exuberant greetings.
But there is some falling down of folk whenever the pastor does an altar call and people come up to the altar to get their wounds healed, whether spiritual, mental or physical. Yes, people drop to the ground, as if fainting from an overdose of incense. But I'm told it's God's spirit "slaying" them, as He heals them from their ailments. I guess if God slayed me too, I'd faint.
One day, I decided to be part of the herd and found myself standing amidst a bunch of hopeful Ticos, as the Costa Ricans are called. The pastor began his prayer, laying a hand in turn on every soul that had come up to the altar. I watched as all around me, people flopped to the ground. No, this wasn't any show. Now I got to see the spirit slayings up close and personal, and these people weren't falling by their own will in some feigned act of Holy Ghost magic. (Although, I am sure that there are a few that manage to do so, in order not to feel as if they aren't the only ones not getting touched by the Spirit).
I also attend a small church group on Friday nights, and have made friends with a handful of people there who have shared more stories of Holy Ghost magic with me. Just this year, two brothers were miraculously healed after getting into car wrecks (on separate occasions, mind you. Wrecks are pretty common in this nation where road rules don't exist). One of them had a severely disfigured face as a result of being thrown from a motorcycle, and physicians had told him that plastic surgery would be necessary. But then God supposedly said to him, "I'm your physician, and your face will be healed in a week". And so it was. No surgery, no nothing and his face is as lovely as ever.
Lest you think I'm feeding you an uncommon tale, I have heard numerous other stories of miraculous healing, most less dramatic than this one, but real nonetheless.
I once read in P. Yancey's book, "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" that supernatural healing seems to occur more often in second and third-world nations. If anyone knew whether that was true, it would be this well-traveled author, who has visited and ministered in many countries. And personally, most of the stories that I have heard about supernatural healing and other "miraculous" events (such as the spontaneous multiplication of food--yes, just like Jesus and the fish), have occurred in second and third world nations.
Why would this be true? Do we in the west rely so much on our methods and medicine that we really don't think that God can do much else but provide the plants to make our drugs? Do we believe spontaneous spiritual healing to be reserved for just a few lucky few, because quite frankly, we don't know of anyone that has been healed of Lyme disease overnight?
Maybe we don't want to be disappointed by God and so we find it easier not to give too much credence to the possibility. Maybe the Holier Than Thou around us have bitterly turned us away from the idea of supernatural healing, through their quiet accusations of, "...you would be healed if you just had more faith..."
Indeed, I don't want to confront the issue when nearly everyone but me falls to the ground in an altar call. Yes, that was a disappointing experience and I did ask the question, "Why not me, God?", because it sure as Hades feels like God has favorites sometimes.
I'll bet that the majority of those who went up to the altar to get healed weren't suffering for years from Lyme disease, either. Probably they all had hangnails.
I'm just kidding on that last point, but such are the bitter thoughts that come to mind when somebody else "gets" to be healed. How come I have to take the long road, and spend thousands of hours, dollars, and kilojoules of energy to get better when Jaundiced Jose simply gets a whiff of Holy Ghost air, and Poof! his liver is healed?
Or maybe I don't need to take the long road, and my brain is simply lolly-gagging in the space of disbelief, even though I know what my god is capable of, and willing to do, in order to heal the bodies of others.
Often, when the falling sheep and those with healed faces put me into a quandry and I can't seem to settle upon a theory about how God works in the area of supernatural healing, (no matter that I've squeezed the life out of every one), I give up, sigh, and proclaim, "God has His reasons."
Sometimes, though, that's not good enough and I want to know if there's some problem with my belief and my culture that needs to see in order to believe and whose reality is shaped by five senses instead of six.
I want to know if people in Costa Rica have a simpler faith than those of us who come from over-analytical, credentialed societies where information is King and healing is presumed to be given only to those with the brains and the bucks to figure out which Borrelia Bug has overtaken their bodies. If so, then does a simpler faith that doesn't lean on worldly wisdom as much as it does on God, open the door to spontaneous healing by a holy hand?
Maybe that depends somewhat upon where we put our hope (assuming you believe in God, of course. If not, I regret that this post may feel a bit irrelevant to you). If it's in the meds, then maybe we get to take a slower path to wellness.
I don't know. What is becoming clearer to me, however, is that spontaneous healing by God is not an uncommon occurrence in some parts of the world. And where it isn't, does our road to health yet need to be so complicated, if we ask God to intervene and show us which path to take? I mean, would your god really want you to spend year after year, dollar after dollar, trying to lick the craftier-than-thou critters that lurk in your precious body?
Okay, so perhaps your god's plan is a different one and you're meant to one day become a wounded healer, and it's why the learning curve never ends, but I don't suspect that this is meant to be for most of us.
I don't know what is meant to be, but I encourage you to think beyond science and consider the spiritual and the possibility of spontaneous healing, because sometimes, God intervenes swiftly and quickly to make people better. At least, I know my god can, and does.