One Month of Biblical Healing Stories? / by Robyn Rapske

On March 1st of this year, I attended a spiritual retreat focused on the concept of ‘resiliency’ held at the Carey Centre on UBC campus. My work sends staff to classes and retreats like this so we don’t burn out. I’m glad of it.

These kinds of experiences tend to be encouraging, but can also bring a challenge, if you’re open to it.

This time around, I found a challenge, and decided to take it.

A coworker that has since landed a dream job elsewhere, is an outgoing soul. I’m going to stereotype here and say she probably grew up in a pentecostal church, or else in a very charismatic version of another denomination. It gives a bit of context for my reaction to her words.

We were in a small group discussion together. I told her about my Graves’ Disease, which I was diagnosed with in April 2017 and unexpectedly gained remission from by October 2017. I then described the Post-Concussion Syndrome I developed in January of this year and continue to deal with. I was chatting about the lessons I’ve learned through this experience.

After I spoke, she said I needed to ask God for healing.

My instinct was to give her a very hearty eye roll. But I didn’t, because I try not to be rude.

She went on to describe her own physical healing from an illness. She had proclaimed God’s power of healing over her body, and had told doctors that she would not suffer because God would heal her. She was healed, and she believed I could be too.

While she spoke, the top thoughts in my head were:

  1. I am so awkward around this charismatic Christian–my stoic, Mennonite church background can’t handle it.
  2. Do I even believe in physical healings?
  3. I have heard miraculous healing stories from friends so… maybe it is possible to have physical healing?
  4. Am I going to offend her by not responding to her in an equally charismatic way??

I hushed myself up (to be polite), and listened further.

She summed up her talk by giving me a task. She said I should read the bible and find all the passages where people were physically healed, and I should pray over each one, asking for my own healing. I was to do this for the entire month of March.

Mostly to avoid being rude (again, that tendency of mine!), I said I would.


From March 1st to 31st, I diligently found stories of physical healing in the bible, wrote them in my journal, pondered them, and prayed healing over myself.

As I write this, it is April 4th, and no, I am not physically healed. 

I have had a bad headache for a week straight, and I have huge anxiety that Graves’ Disease is on it’s way back into my thyroid.

So why tell this tale?

Because I learned some interesting things regarding God’s character as I read over these stories, which are the following:

(Disclaimer: Each person with chronic illness has a very different experience of life, and therefore will respond to the idea of “Healings” differently as well, so this is just my personal thoughts. I don’t pretend everyone with chronic illness would believe the things I learned below.)

God cares a lot about my physical wellness

In his very short time ministering on earth, Jesus healed SO many people! I stuck to stories where demons were not said to be creating the illness, and tried to cross-reference between the gospels so I only touched on each healing story once. And with this, found 22 stories of Jesus healing. That’s a lot if you consider that many of those stories included more than one person healed. He could have spent that time teaching, or doing something else more ‘heavenly’ minded.

In my ongoing health ups and downs God cares deeply for what my body and I are going through.

God lets physical healing interrupt ministry and the laws

Most of the 22 times Jesus was healing people, those who were suffering sought him out in their desperation, very much interrupting his work. At one point, two blind men at the roadside were making such a loud ruckus that the crowd around Jesus started rebuking them. It says “but they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’”. Jesus stopped the whole parade of people to speak with them, hear their pain, and heal them (Matt. 20:29-34). At one point he shows the Pharisees that it’s more important to have compassion on the sick than to follow the rules of the Sabbath they so strongly held to (Mark 3:1-6). In Luke 5:17-39 a man is so desperate for healing that his friends cut a hole into the very house where Jesus is teaching. That’s about as disruptive as you can get, and Jesus rolls with it, hears his pain, and heals him. Matthew 21:12-14 speaks of the time when he tore apart the temple tables and kicked out the pigeon sellers and money-changers. Whatever they were doing, he wanted it replaced with the “blind and the lame”, who entered shortly after, and he promptly began healing them.

This year while I’ve had to take lots of time off work, I’ve struggled a lot with the pain of being unable to do as much of the ministerial job I love, as much socializing as I desire, and as much activism as I’d want. I was unable to do the things that I value as good works. The stories above make me think that it’s okay that seeking healing has interrupted the ministry and tasks I care about.

God has compassion for the unique context of each person (especially women!)

This one was particularly wonderful to read about. Jesus came across a widow whose only son had just died. Death is hard for everyone, but the cultural context for that woman meant she, without the two men she was attached to, was now in a desperate economic situation. Jesus “had compassion on her” and raised the son from the dead (Luke 17:11-19). He also healed Hannah through her barrenness, understanding what that meant for women in the time (1 Samuel 1:9-20). Similarly, he healed Rebekah’s barrenness in Genesis 25:21, and Sarah’s in Genesis 21:1. It’s hard enough to deal with barrenness when one wishes desperately to have a child, but I think the true suffering of theirs was to also have the immense pressure of the cultural context. God saw them and brought healing to them.

The reason these resonate with me, is because I’ve witnessed many people forget cultural context for people in suffering, and God himself showed compassion to the cultural context of these women. My own contextual pain matters to him.

Generally, Jesus waits to be asked for healing

It was interesting to realize that most of the time people came to Jesus requesting help, expressing their pain to him, he did not force it on them. In John 5 he even explicitly asks “Do you want to be healed?” to a man at the healing pool.

This one hit me mostly because of the ever troublesome Ableism I’m trying to be taught more about. These people who sought healing desired it and wanted so desperately to be freed of their struggles. He didn’t force it on them, telling them what was wrong with their bodies. I’ve heard stories of well-intentioned Christians praying for healing over a child with Down’s Syndrome when the parent didn’t ask for it, or seeking healing for Autistic folks who don’t feel that they need healing. Jesus cared enough to ask. He cared about our opinions of our bodies. Many people find beautiful life even through their physical differences, as long as society adapts to them (as I think we should).

God uses the healings for a bigger purpose

Multiple times he uses healing to show that he is God, as a part of the bigger picture to show them he is the Messiah. He even raises multiple people from the dead. It’s one thing to alter aspects of an alive body, but if you know how much brain damage and deterioration of a body happens immediately after death, he HAS to be divine to bring someone back from that. Many times the stories say people understood he was God by seeing miracles of healing. The disciples also did their best to attribute the power to God when they healed others, to be able to proclaim the gospel.

So, through our experiences of healing, or of pain, there can be redemption for a greater purpose. Maybe I was always going to get injured, and deal with an autoimmune disease like Graves’, but he has the ability to use whatever goes on in the body for greater purposes.

So, what does this all mean for me?


1. God cares about the pain my body and I are going through. He cares about the times of extreme fatigue, he cares about the on-and-off headaches, he cares about the pain my eyes get from too much light, he cares about the stress I feel when I see signs of Graves’ Disease coming back. He has compassion for my experience.

My body's experience matters to him.

2. God cares about my physical healing just as much as the ministry that I feel I ‘should’ be doing. If I can’t work as much as I want, or do incredible things I’d like to do, because I have to seek healing my body instead, that’s okay.

My body's experience matters to him.

3. God cares about my cultural context. As lame as it is, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) cripples millenials like me–loneliness sets in very hard when you can’t go to the events your friends are going to. Also the fear of being ‘useless’ is terrifying–this world is obsessed with what you can contribute to the economy etc. When I fear that one day I won’t be able to work, it’s because I have been culturally brought up to believe that my usefulness is tied securely to my worth.

My body's experience matters to him.

4. God welcomes me to tell him how I’m feeling. He wants to hear about my experience. I’m invited to cry and pray in anger and sadness. He welcomes my feelings.

My body's experience matters to him.

5. No matter what occurs, there can be a bigger plan, and a redemption. A bigger purpose has already come of my experiences. I am much more compassionate to others with chronic illnesses now. I also have learned a bigger appreciation for nutrition and how that plays a large part in our mental and physical well-being. I also savour my life much more–if I can only go to one social event a week, oh BOY do I savour that event!

My body's experience matters to him.

My body's experience matters to him

I repeated that phrase five times because that’s what has stuck with me. Even if my healing doesn’t look like it did in biblical times, or in the dramatic events of a modern ER room; if it just means that I have to live life differently due to my changed abilities–I’m still worthwhile, loved, and my physical body’s experience matters to God.