It's healing time!

What must the Church do as the pandemic ends?


24. January 2021In ReflectionsBy Scotty Williams5 Minutes

Healing Hands

One of my favorite sermons is from the Rev. Dr. James Forbes of Riverside Church, where he talks about the healing hands of his father (Click HERE for the sermon). As a boy the Rev. Forbes was convulsing with a great fever, and in response his father laid his hands on him and prayed:

God, You made this boy. You know how to fix what’s wrong with him. Heal him will You. In Jesus’ name.

After hearing his father’s prayer, the young Rev. Forbes began to cool down, and a few hours later he was up and playing outside with his friends. That day he discovered that his father had healing hands, hands like those in the Holy Scriptures that bring relief to suffering.

The Hands Before Us

Throughout the Bible one will see numerous examples of healing hands, and the greatest hands can be found in the Gospels with Jesus. Like the father of Rev. Forbes, Jesus often gave a simple prayer, and sometimes He was silent and did not touch those in need at all (e.g., the Centurian’s servant in Matthew 8:5-13). Nevertheless, whether He touched or not, Jesus had healing hands, and He encouraged the disciples and early Church to follow His example.

Upon sending His disciples out Jesus told them to, “Heal the sick”, and after His resurrection He commissioned them to do the same. And in the early Church, the Apostle James told believers this:

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. – James 5:14

Indeed, the Bible has many examples of healing hands, and these hands before us from ages past encourage us to be healers today. And we are not just called to heal those with diseases; we are also called to bring relief to any situation of suffering.

Our Hands Today

In this world there is brokenness in every part of human life, from the relationships that we have with others to dysfunction in our places of work. Furthermore, many people long to see the brokenness around them mended, and are crying out in different ways for someone with a healing touch. In his sermon the Rev. Forbes talked about a boy in Detroit who was wearing a shirt that had the phrase, “Shoot me, I’m already dead”. This boy was crying out for healing from his brokenness, and looking for a voice to say, “Oh no, you can have life.”

Like the Apostles and early Church, we too have been commissioned by Christ, and are called to bring much needed relief to a host of sufferings in our world. We now have healing hands, though our touch may never cure the sick, and we all must strive to be agents of life that push away the shadow of death.

It’s Healing Time

As the current pandemic ends, some are wondering what the Church must do, and I don’t believe that our tasks will be getting back to “normal”. Before COVID-19 came there were so-called normal things that were wrong in our world, and these things brought much brokenness and hindered people from finding life. There were things like divisions which kept communities at odds and apart from one another, and overlooking the marginalized at the edges of society. There was also taking for granted the essential workers who have kept us afloat, and the mistreatment of women who have marched en masse to make their voices heard.

Many things we saw as normal brought about much pain and suffering, and in the days ahead as the Pandemic fades the Church must strive to bring relief. We must lift our hands with love and proclaim life in the wake of the shadow of death. We must be like Christ and the early Church and tell the world, “It’s healing time!”

*Image, “Bible Cross God Healing Hand“, by Didgeman Thomas B. (this image comes from Pixabay and is free for commercial use)