The Mystery of Our Faith
Feb 4, 2018 - Rev. Victoria Robb Powers
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Praying with people is one of the greatest joys for a pastor. However, people often mistakenly presume that prayers for healing may be more effective coming from a pastor or chaplain because clergy are somehow closer to God. On the other hand, many of us have become skeptical of anyone’s prayers for healing because we have experienced so many stories in which healing didn’t come.
In the Gospel of Mark, we read many stories of healing and exorcism, but these stories can seem cruel to us. In the face of those who are ill and dying in our life, where has the magic in these stories gone? They seem plentiful in Mark, but we find that miracles are hard to come by in our daily reality. How can we love these stories of our faith, and also address the reality of those who are waiting for healing, day-after-day?
Often our response is to spiritualize – God must be teaching us something by withholding healing, or perhaps God is testing us and our faith. Or perhaps we respond with a theology like a genie in a bottle – that if only we can be faithful enough, God will grant us our three wishes.
We often ask these questions with a misplaced understanding of Jesus as a magician more than a messiah. However, to praise Jesus as a Messiah involves significantly more mystery. We don’t always understand what Jesus was doing or how he continues to work in our world.
So, we continually pray for healing, and we trust the Spirit of God to keep praying when we have lost the energy and the words. We pray, and we learn to live graciously and compassionately in this world of already-but-not-yet – the world in which Jesus is redeeming and bringing the Kingdom of God, but in which God’s will is not yet fully realized.
We tend to think that the greatest faith holds out for a magical healing, but the truth is that mystery is harder. We must embrace the mystery of God that’s inherent to a robust faith, and we sit compassionately with those for whom we pray and for whom there is no cure.