The Holy Spirit and You > Healing > When Healing Doesn't Come, and Depression
I've gotten many of these letters over the years:
A woman's daughter was dying. Her friends brought in this other woman who claimed to be a healer and a prophet. She went to the hospital, prayed over the daughter and anointed her head. Then, she prophesied to the mother that the child would live. The child died the next day. When the prophetess heard about this, she said that it was because the mother didn't have enough faith. The mother turned to her pastor, who told her that it must be so, otherwise the daughter would have been healed. The mother has turned her back on the Christian faith because of this, and runs from her former friends, who really miss her much. What happened, and what should we do?
What happened is that her friends' lack of discernment fed the mother's desperate desire to believe anything which might give her back her child when everything else says the child will die. When someone is in that state, they'll cling to anything for hope, and the Devil sends his people around to be that 'anything'. Hence the 'prophetess'.
Someone with real healing gifts would know better than to promise or guarantee a successful healing. They know from experience and Scripture that they don't know why things happen the way they do in this broken world, and that the child may not (but also may) be healed. They know healing is a gift from God whenever it is done, it is not really under the healer's (or for that matter, the doctor's) control. They may be confident a healing will take place, but they can never be certain. Thus, the 'prophetess' shows herself as false by the very fact she declared that the girl will be healed. Unusual medical treatments often provide false hope, but 'prophetesses' like this one are worse because they peddle false hope as part of their trade. You can't expect the mother to discern such things in the state of mind she was in, so her friends, and then later her pastor, have the responsibility to discern for her. And they did not. Instead, they blamed her. Whether she believes or disbelieves in healing or prophecy or medicine, she's still totally desperate. If this promise wasn't there, the mother would have grabbed another. Wouldn't you if it were your child? That's what makes this kind of a lie so evil - the mother has so little choice. The guilt trip is so heavy, and so hard to resist.
Now that it's happened, the best thing to do is let the passage of time settle things down. Later on, opportunities may arise, and she may be more open again. But don't force anything. She's angry, and has every right to be.
Spirithome.com warns hard against the belief that the failure to be healed is caused by a supposed 'lack of faith'. Some Christians act as if the use of doctors or anti-depression medicines are a 'lack of faith'. Faith does matter, but in a different and positive way. The presence of faith sets the groundwork for healing possibilities which may or may not happen. Mis-faith or lack of faith, however, is not usually why faith healings (or medical healings) fail. There are too many other reasons we are ill and die. This is a material world which is out of kilter with God. Because of that, we all die. Even worse, any one of us can die anywhere at any time from any number of causes. That's the way of the world -- no exceptions. No amount of faith changes this. (Nor can any medical treatment change it.) This isn't the way God wants it to be. (That's why there's a died-and-risen Christ.) It is, however, the way it is till the Kingdom comes in full. And we must come to terms with it.
It is in treatment of mental and emotional disorders such as depression that the separation of 'spiritual' from the 'material' world does its most harm. The two are part of the same creation by the same Creator, with the same end : the Kingdom.
I myself suffer from depression, which in this case is a change in the workings of the brain's neurons which weighs the brain's operations heavily in favor of the sad, the serious, the lonely, and the pessimistic sides of life. Pleasure becomes rare, and it's harder to get up an interest in doing things. Many millions of people are affected by depression. My version is quite mild as depression goes, but when it first hit, it hit hard. The best treatments have many sides, all of which have a 'spiritual' and a 'material' effect, if we are to use such words. Depression must be treated holistically, rather than just by willpower or medicine or prayer. The good news is that for mild or moderate depression, treatment works for about 90% of those who have it. The bad news is that less than a third of those who have depression seek treatment for it.
Here's what a broad-based treatment looks like:
All this attacks depression on many fronts in many ways. A course of truly comprehensive and holistic therapy for depression does not banish it (it's happened to a few, but not to most and not to me). It helps me become able to live with the depression I have. The idea is to beat up on depression more relentlessly than depression beats up on me. The healing is spiritual and material, alone and with others, resting and doing. It is in a sense a 'self-healing', yet God and other people are crucial to it. I find I need every bit of this help to keep going ahead with life.
This treatment for depression is holistic in the best sense of the word; it covers all of life. It has to, because depression has so many different ways of showing itself, at any moment. An honestly "holistic" approach is not based on adding an herb, or taking something out of your diet, or discovering any one 'secret' behavior or attitude which will unlock your potential. It is rooted in the whole context of one's life. Thus, holistic treatment of depression is an approach, not a therapy.
The danger comes when some person without medical training tells you to go off the antidepressant drugs because "your faith has made you well", or because some herb, vitamin, or healing technique will cure you. The track record is ultra clear: going off medications makes your depression worse, and sometimes dangerous.
A reader writes:
>> If I do learn that I have cancer, where do I go next?
To doctors who deal with cancer.
Too many people keep acting as if there is some sort of either/or regarding faith and medicine. There is not. God works through prayer. God works through doctors. God works through other human beings. (God also works through you!) Having your church's elders pray over you is a good idea. It's an act of praise even in the face of danger, and God is at work when people pray. But it must not stop you from getting the best medical help you can get, as quickly as you can. None of it may stop the cancer. But then again, it just might. Cancer's the result of a created world which is out-of-whack (or 'fallen') in relation to its God. I would have faith that God will use whomever or whatever is needed to get this cancer thing gone.
A reader writes :
Just came across your site and was reading about the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. One that I wonder about is a burning heat in the knee that comes and goes - any suggestions?
To be honest, it sounds more like the body's trying to counter the effects of overwork of the knee, or of arthritis, or lupus. It's a medical problem. To be anything like a 'manifestation of the Spirit', its timing each time would have to match up with something happening to you spiritually. You'd likely most notice or recall or value the spiritual effect, not the hot knee. Pray for the knee's healing.
Sometimes when some praying person lays hands on an unhealthy part of the body, the part touched then heats up really hot -- manifesting the 'miracle' part of physical healing, which itself is the Spirit at work.
Strange things happening to a body are usually bio-medical, not spiritual, except that ultimately all illness is a part of this universe's being out of whack from its Creator, and all healing is ultimately its Creator at work to bring it back into synch.
Your touch has still its ancient power,
No word from You can fruitless fall;
Hear, in this solemn evening hour,
And in Your mercy heal us all.
----- "At Even, Ere The Sun Was Set", last verse, by Henry Twells
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|ver.: 03 October 2011.
Depression and Healing. Copyright © 2000-2011 by Robert Longman.