A couple of weeks ago my First Day School class was talking about some stories of healing from the books of Matthew and Mark. We had to take a break at one point to discuss the differences between the old and new testament. You know, Jesus is in the new testament, which was written after the old testament. We also had to stop and talk about Jesus' teachings about the Sabbath and what they have to do with Bud Selig and the steroid scandal. They weren't able to convince me that it was an apt metaphor.
And as much as they tried the kids also couldn't convince me that Jesus was just a dude. They were pretty much in agreement that He couldn't actually do all that healing stuff. And that nonsense about how it's your faith that heals you is really condescending because that means that if you're paralyzed then your faith isn't strong enough to make you better.
I find this such a sad world view. As someone who struggles with mental illness, the kind of mental illness that requires multiple daily medications, weekly therapy and the occasional hospitalization, I don't believe that my lack of healing is due to a weakness of faith. In fact, it's my faith that gives me the strength to keep fighting especially in times like these when the going gets pretty rough. I believe that my experiences on earth and my physical body are fairly unimportant. I believe that my soul and my relationship with God are far more important. Sure, it'd be great if God would relieve my suffering and balance the chemicals in my head for me. If he'd cure my aunt's breast cancer, that'd be pretty rad too. But I'd rather be right with God than right in the head. Knowing that I'm right with God brings me great comfort.
Here's what I think about the stories of healing: I'm buying it. I believe that Jesus was able to heal people. I think that being able to work miracles was an important part of getting people's attention. He had amazing things to say about the way things are and the way they should be and he got people's attention by doing amazing things while he was on earth in a corporeal form. And even if the stories about healing aren't literally true, I think that the messages about faith and forgiveness are so true and so important that I'm not concerned about whether or not touching the hem of His garment might actually cure leprosy or a hemorrhage or HIV.
Maybe they aren't ready to really think about miracles and healing and forgiveness. I'm pretty sure I wasn't at that age either. On the other hand, there was no throwing of graham crackers that week and that's a little miracle in and of itself.