By The Rev. A. Wayne Schwab
[Fourth Sunday after Pentecost; Mark 5:21-43; Hinesburg, VT, June 28, 2015.]
A girl restored to life and a woman healed.
Healing it is today.
Clergy pray for healing. I share some of my stories about healing.
God wills our health. That’s my message. God wills our health.
Early in my national church work, I was in the barrio of San Pedro Sula in Honduras. San Pedro Sula is the commercial center of Honduras. Bananas fill the center of the city for loading on trains. You can help yourself to one at any time.
People filled the streets of the barrio. A woman came to us for prayer. She had a flow of blood that would not stop. Of course, I thought of today’s reading. She had seen our collars, so she came to us. In the barrio, all clergy of any faith are expected to pray for healing.
My prayer with her is unforgettable. I laid my hands on her head. I asked everyone to join with me. A scene I have never forgotten. A mountain of hands reaching to rest on mine gathered in close. A moment of silence; then I prayed. My prayer was simple , to the point, and in English. All knew I was praying for her healing.
I did not check back to see if our prayer worked. All prayers work. Usually, in ways we cannot see. I could trust God’s healing power was at work in her. God wills our health. We believed healing was already happening before we started. We believed our prayers opened her and all of us to be still more open to God’s healing. Just how, we do not know.
When I can, I often ask after a prayer for healing, “How do you feel? What is happening for you?” I lacked the Spanish to ask this time. I could tell by the contentment that had spread across her face. God’s healing was at work.
That pyramid, that mountain of hands is still with me.
* * *
As you learn about healing, pray for yourself. One evening, I had a sore throat coming on. I put my hand on my throat. Touch is the basic sacrament. Touch or put your hand over what you are praying for. I prayed, “Lord, heal my throat. Restore my health. Amen.” The pain was gone by morning. God wills my and your health.
* * *
We formed a chapter of the Order of St. Luke where we were living at the time. I was the chaplain. I know this story first hand.
A chapter member told us all about Suzy who was in her 30’s. We picked her up at home for the meeting. Her back pain was so severe she had to lie down on the back seat for the ride to the meeting of only seven minutes.
Suzy has a brother, Herby, who had been delivered by forceps at birth. As can happen, he was injured for life. His arms and legs were useless. He was twenty-one when we met Suzy. His doctors had done the best they could at his birth. As he grew, his doctors did what they could for Herby to have some measure of joy in his family’s care for him. Suzy had to lift him in and out of his bed and his wheelchair. He must have weighed over 120 pounds. She was injuring her back each time. We prayed for Suzy’s healing and for Herby every time we met.
The chapter met monthly. Over the months, one member had an idea. She had heard that swimming helped back pain. Suzy was willing to give it a try. Over the next months, time in the swimming pool was helping. Suzy could sit up in the car now. She did not have to lie flat on the back seat. Time in the pool was healing. Swimming was one of the ways God was healing Suzy.
In time, Suzy met Tom and they grew together. As they planned their wedding, you know the question on everyone’s heart. What would happen to Herby?
A healing mission we had planned opened two weeks before the wedding day. The leader, Alex, heard about Herby and was worried too. As the first day of the mission ended, news came that Herby had been rushed to the hospital. It was not the first time. This time his ailments were the most severe and the doctors saw the end ahead.
Alex and I went to the hospital. Alex talked with Herby. “Herby, you can let go now. Suzy will be in good hands with Tom.” Alex put a prayer for release into his prayer for Herby. We left.
As we assembled the next morning for the mission, word came about Herby. He had passed way during the night. Now, he had full health in a new body. God heals in many ways.
* * *
God had used the doctors to give Herby some measure of joy with his family.
God had used our prayers for Suzy and the family to give endurance to them all.
God had blessed the friendship and romance of Suzy and Tom as they moved toward marriage.
Herby had let go during that night. For me and probably for you, Herby letting go that night was one of God’s gifts of healing.
We moved upstate when I retired. The last we heard, Suzy and Tom were raising a family.
God wills our health. God heals in countless ways. Look for them. They are always there.
Another story comes to mind; another time for it. Believe God wills our health.