As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. (John 9:1-3 NRSV).
Deborah Creamer’s interview brought to light that those with disabilities may read certain Biblical passages differently than those without disabilities. Many of you know that both of my boys have severe Hemophilia Factor VIII Deficiency. Basically, there is a clotting shortage in their blood. They must take medication in order to clot. Unfortunately, the only way to be cured of hemophilia is to have a liver transplant. It is a life time disorder and does not change severity. The recessive gene which carries the code is passed along the X chromosome and the mother is the one with the altered DNA. When a child is born with hemophilia, there is a tremendous amount of guilt that many women suffer because of the genetic circumstance.
I discovered the above verses from John and read them with new eyes. As Debbie mentioned in her interview, we tend to generically read many of the scriptural texts. This particular scripture (John 9:1-3) provided tremendous insight into my own life as to the reason behind my children having hemophilia. In some ways this was a source of comfort, but in other ways was a source of anger. Why did my children have to be born so that “God’s works might be revealed in them?” Wasn’t there another way that God’s works might have been shown?
Debbie’s interview reminded me that, like my children, I read the passages on healing with a different lens. My oldest son is 13 years old. I wonder how my son read the passages regarding healing. Does he struggle with some of the questions that Debbie brought up regarding healing? In the interview she addresses several different ways that someone with disabilities may respond to the Biblical text. There are some who dismiss any problems with the text in a generic sense. There are others who call their faith into question. If one is faced with the kind of faith that measures the amount of faith to the amount of healing, there is the potential for enormous damage when healing does not occur.
The interview made me realize that I need to be sensitive to my sons and how they interpret the Biblical passages of healing. I must be able to hear their struggles with the passages in which healing brings wholeness. The Biblical text from John 9:1-3 is a very good beginning to understanding how our fellow believers with disabilities interpret the texts of healing.
"If one is faced with the kind of faith that measures the amount of faith to the amount of healing, there is the potential for enormous damage when healing does not occur." Joe, thank you for sharing your experience with your sons' disabilities so that we can hear the reality and feelings behind the ideas. I have seen the damage that occurs when physical healing and faith are somehow equated in a way that sends the message, "If you only had more faith…" This way of thinking about healing seems quite simplistic and enables the "advisor" to maintain a position of superiority as someone who in fact does have the requisite amount of faith. As a counselor, I see healing as focused more on movement toward emotional, psychological and spiritual wholeness – not a one-time event but a frequently mysterious and always God-given process. Joe, I struggle with the concept that God sends disabilities or any kind of suffering so that "God's work might be revealed…" I think God suffers with us and for me this is one of the central messages of Jesus – He knows and understands suffering and pain. Terrible diseases strike and horrifying events happen that for me have nothing to do with anyone sinning or God wanting to send a message – they simply happen. Again for me, the overarching promise of Scripture is that God is there in the midst of all the sorrow and pain working with us and guiding us toward healing and wholeness in the broadest sense.Thank you again for your heartfelt post. Sue
Joe-I like how you digest this all, its personal and theological. I think you really think this out. We do have such different views of healing. I wonder if there is a deeper truth to be found in these healing stories that could be accessible for people of all abilities. What do you think about that? How can we honor the story without turning away those who struggle with the healing stories in a pastoral and theological way?
Joe- Very heart felt post. It was a treat to read. I definitely agree with you when you said, "If one is faced with the kind of faith that measures the amount of faith to the amount of healing, there is the potential for enormous damage when healing does not occur." Thank you again for your post.Sterling
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