As I teacher, I found that proximity was key to classroom management. I was constantly on the move, making sure my students were using their time wisely. This had an unexpected result; I developed plantar fasciitis. Each morning my first steps were excruciatingly painful.
Around my thirty-ninth birthday, Pastor Jim preached a sermon about Asa, an ancient Israeli king. The story ends with this verse, “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians.”
I am not sure what the main point of that sermon was, but I knew I needed to ask for Pastor Jim to pray over my painful feet. When I asked, he said something like, “We believe that healing can happen in three ways. God can and does heal instantly, miraculously. He also can heal through the common grace of doctors and other health aids. We will ultimately be completely healed in heaven. We do not know which of these means he will choose to use to heal your feet.” Then Pastor Jim showed me this Bible passage, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
He asked me to spend a week asking God to reveal any sin in my life, so that I would be prepared to confess it to the elders before the prayer for healing. I agreed, but I thought of myself as a good person, so I didn’t expect to uncover much.
But as I prayed, God revealed two sins to me:
- Pride that thought I could do most things without help from God or other people
- Pride that was more concerned with my reputation being damaged, than I was about my son’s immortal soul.
The next Sunday after church, I confessed my sins to the assembled elders. Pastor Jim anointed my forehead with a tiny drop of oil. He and the elders prayed aloud.
That afternoon I rode my bicycle to the beach. As I walked on the sand, my feet tingled. Between the place where the waves crested and the place where they broke, I noticed a flock of gulls paddling. I felt the Lord was saying to me, “That’s where you are: paddling in rough seas, but safe between the waves’ crests and the breakers.”
My plantar fasciitis slowly healed. I learned to wear supportive shoes and went through two rounds of physical therapy. But asking God for help healed broken places my heart I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Application: Dear friend, do you have physical or emotional pain you are trying to ignore? Weary friend, I encourage you to ask wise leaders in your church to pray for you. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
What hurts? Who can you ask to pray for healing for your deepest pain?
The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis