I vividly remember walking into my first Bible study focused on healing and deliverance. Filled with uncertainty (and shame for my lack of faith), I grabbed a spot around the circle. Expecting anyone prepared to study miracles and demons to be out of their minds, I was pleasantly surprised to be surrounded by average churchgoers like myself. “Whew, I’m not the only crazy one.”
As a relatively new Christ follower, I was beginning to understand the power of Jesus’ name in the face of opposition. This topic certainly wasn’t covered in the sporadic church services I attended growing up, and if they were, my mind wandered at any mention of the Holy Spirit or supernatural. I simply assumed that healing the sick was only intended for biblical times. “Demon” was so far out of my vocabulary that even after I decided to follow Jesus, I skimmed over certain Bible verses and didn’t ask questions.
But after this Bible study, I was determined to take a stance on these issues and jotted down chapters to study. The “fact” that Jesus may still be the same Jesus we read of in the Bible intensified my praises for Him. I still had my doubts, but I no longer wanted to base my beliefs on my experiences.
It was also baffling for me to hear that people in “other” countries are experiencing healing and deliverance so often. America is too, but witnessing a miracle isn’t necessarily normal for many churches on Sunday morning. I assumed that Jesus hadn’t performed miracles in front of me for the sake of fulfilling His purposes, therefore, I shouldn’t expect Him to move on my command. I wonder though if low expectations decreases our faith? Will Jesus choose not to perform miracles among those lacking in faith, just as He did in Nazareth? Are we even giving God the chance? Understanding this balance of praying humbly and boldly was very difficult for me, and still is at times.
After I started working at Global Disciples my eyes were opened to just how often healing and deliverance was occurring among new believers around the world. Thousands of people were coming to know the Lord through miracles God had orchestrated, just as we read of in the Bible. In fact, one of our program directors claims that there is no miracle mentioned in the New Testament that he hasn’t seen with his own two eyes.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia and hear powerful testimonies from Christians who had experienced God’s physical miracles and deliverance. Their emotion when telling their stories was electrifying and unforgettable. God’s presence in the church was evident and I pray I can remember these testimonies on the days I am lacking in faith. This church was planted in a region once immersed in idol worship and witchcraft, but through discipleship training and growth of the church, 470 people were baptized last year alone. I was struck by the difference in their testimonies from what I typically hear- various dependencies, complacencies, or the pursuit of empty lifestyles. But many of these African churchgoers came to know the Lord through healing of a devastating sickness or delivery from demonic oppression. Lame men were walking, mute persons were singing, and there was just no denying that God was working differently and in plain sight.
As I wrestle through this, I realize our life on earth may never reveal answers that fully satisfy us all. But I’m sharing this, encouraged by the fact that our imaginations can’t even comprehend what God is capable of. With varied life experiences and testimonies, maybe God chooses to respond and reveal Himself accordingly. Ultimately, He chooses how to advance His church beyond our understanding. I’m not sure what our expectations should be but we must leave room for the miraculous way of the Holy Spirit. As our African Continental Director would say, “We must not only be convicted, but convinced.” And let’s not overlook the “smaller” miracles that God may be performing right in front of us either.
So, what about you? Do you read the verse below and believe we as Jesus’ disciples are still capable of this same power today?
Matthew 10:7-8 As you go, proclaim this message: The Kingdom of heaven has come near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.