is a concept we use for explaining the change of a personís
condition from one of being sick to one of being well. It happens
all the time today, especially considering recent strides in medical
technology. Severed fingers can be reattached, damaged organs can be
replaced, and ravaging diseases can be brought under control. Yes, medical
healing is a gift of God and a tribute to the skill and
determination of physicians and medical researchers. Yes, medical
healing is easy to understand, and people (excepting a few who
adhere to certain religious teachings) are willing to enjoy its
there are other ways to account for healing---the transition from
sick to well. The most common is natural healing. The body
has a lot of built-in provisions for warding off disease as well as
handling disease and infections with its own army of biochemical
weapons. To a great extent, our bodies are quite capable of handling
itself. Open wounds quickly heal over with a scab in order to
prevent us from bleeding to death. Glands secrete hormones that
release disease-fighting cells that battle intruding disease cells.
In a normal human being, the bodyís natural weapons against
infection and disease win their battle far more often than not. And
when it appears that the natural weapons are failing, modern medical
technology is standing by to help.
healing not only comes to the rescue when natural healing is losing
the battle or has become impossible, it also works to aid natural
healing. In fact, it is possible to make a good argument for the
principle that medical healing, by and large, is really natural
healing that is using some outside help. Organ transplants are
clearly ďunnaturalĒ healing mechanisms, but natural healing
reasserts its importance during the patientís. So we can safely
say that medical and natural healing work together to keep us alive
recent years we have come to a better appreciation for the power of
the human mind in the drama of sickness and healing. Generally
speaking, the bodyís natural healing mechanisms are influenced by
glandular activity, and the brain is capable of influencing
glandular activity. Therefore, the brain is capable of influencing
our health. Sounds simple enough. Itís called psychosomatic
healing (psycho- mind; -soma, body). The only
problem is that we barely understand the underlying physical
connections between our minds and our bodies. People from ancient
times claim to have the necessary understanding, and mind-body
healing is a rather popular pseudo-scientific pursuit today.
I have no problem with trying to manipulate forces that I do not
completely understand. I donít understand gravity from a purely
scientific point of view, but I do have a working understanding that
is sufficient for helping me live a longer and healthier life. For
example, I do not seriously entertain the notion of learning to fly
by launching myself from the roof of a skyscraper. Falling down a
little bit when we are infants gives us enough knowledge and
experience to avoid falling down big time when we are olderÖall
without knowing anything about Einsteinís general theory of
relativity and gravity.
manner of speaking, the overall status of mind-body healing today is
much like our common understanding of gravity. We donít really
know how it works, but we can learn to respect and manipulate it on
the basis of our experience.
ago, a critic of spiritual healing approached me after a very
productive healing service. ďThis is all psychological. You tell
these people they can be healed, you get them all excited about it,
you give them some psychological cues [laying hands on them], and
they get all emotional. God didnít heal them---you used simple
psychology!Ē Being younger and more outspoken in my ways, I
responded, ďHey, if you believe that, why donít you go out into
the world and use that same psychology to heal people? Why let
people wander around sick when you have a means for healing them?Ē
Today I understand that a great many healings in spiritual services
are, indeed, triggered by purely emotional reactions to the
excitement and expectation that permeates a good healing service.
These are psychosomatic healings. But I also understand that a
religious healing service is an extremely powerful trigger for
psychosomatic healing. Few other circumstances in our culture can
pull a personís emotions to the proper level in such a short
period of time.
accept the fact that a good many, perhaps a majority, of healings we
witness today in spiritual healing services are instances of
psychosomatic healing. But I am also aware that these same people
who were healed (or set onto a positive path of healing) would still
be sick if it were not for the emotional triggers of those healing
services. Failure to accept this reality results in lifeless
spiritual services and many people remaining sick, distressed, and
when we are privileged to witness the many healings and testimonies
in a spiritual service, we can know that some only thought they were
sick and no longer believe it, and some were healed by a profound
switch in psychosomatic activity. If they want to say that God
touched them in the service, thatís okay. In a manner of speaking,
that is always true. But the bottom line is that they came in sick
and left well; and they might latch onto a more productive and
satisfying spiritual life in the process. This is an example of the
church properly fulfilling its mission.
there such things as miracle healings? Yes, but they are
extremely rare. At Spirit for Today, a miracle healing is one
that cannot possibly be accomplished (or accomplished only with
great difficulty) by medical science or psychosomatic healing.
Instantly restoring muscle tissue to the lame, instantly restoring
sight to the blind, spontaneous replacement of body parts, and
raising the dead from their coffins. Now those are miracle healings.
And for those who claim that miracle healings are not for our day, I
tend to agree for all practical purposes. I would love to witness a
miracle healing first hand, but I am reconciled to the likelihood
that I never will.
healings take place by the ordinary function of our bodies.
healing is commonly used where natural healing is difficult or
healing is a reality that we only partly understand, but can be
successfully employed in the name of spirituality (Jesus, in our
healing is possible, but exceedingly rare.
is one more important element we need to introduce into this
discussion---spiritual, or divine, healing. I bring it up as the
last topic for discussion because I want to fashion a definition by
first describing what it is not. It is not one of the four healing
mechanisms we have already described: natural, medical,
psychosomatic, or miracle healing. Natural, medical, and
psychosomatic healing might be involved in instances of divine
healing, but the purpose is much broader.
healing does not take place in order to make the individual feel
better. There is always a broader purpose. Divine healing, for
example, can be one of Godís calling cards that remind an
otherwise busy and preoccupied population that He is indeed
intimately involved in human lives. Divine healing can be Godís
mark of approval on a church or ministry, thereby providing initial
evidence that one might find spiritual shelter and guidance in that
place. There are other, more specific purposes served by acts of
divine healing. Sometimes these purposes are known only to those
directly involved; more often the purposes are never clearly
discerned because God is working beyond our understanding of events.
are some examples of divine healing? One attribute is the speed with
which a healing takes place. For instance, a person might have an
open and infected wound closes over in a matter of moments and the
signs of infection begin to disappear instantly. Or a hand that has
been crippled with arthritis suddenly pops, crackles and begins to
straighten. Vision and hearing problems are common and sometimes
very dramatic. Such healings can happen by other means, but rarely
in such short periods of time.
earmark of divine intervention is a consistent beating of long
medical odds. Some types of cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and
other devastating diseases might offer very slim chances of recovery
or survival-even with good medical care and positive mental
attitudes. In churches and among groups of people who expect divine
intervention in their lives, you will find a strong tendency to beat
the odds against those who are stricken. I am not impressed with
groups that claim to be all perfectly healthy all the time because
they are so spiritual. Rather, give me the bunch that suffers the
same maladies as the rest of humanity, but consistently beats the
odds by expecting God to intervene with divine healing, peace in
their hearts, and guidance for their caretakers.
far better to suffer in truth and behold the hand of God, than to
pretend there is no hurt and continue to grope in the darkness.
or divine healing---what difference does it make. Either way, God is
in charge, and He will ultimately get the glory for it.
Ohio March 3, 2001
is a software and web publisher living with his wife Jody and
son, Paul in Columbus, Ohio. He is the founder of Spirit
for Today ministries. He is a graduate of Ohio State
University, Mathematics and Psychology and has done some
graduate work in biophysics and taken some bible school and
seminary courses. Dave says
"God has called all
of us to build our lives around a spiritual journey. Our
mission at Spirit for Today is to help you find your
spiritual path and freely explore the glory of God and all
creation. We recognize that each of us is unique in God's
eyes, and that our connection with Him can reflect that
uniqueness in some very profound and exciting ways."