Why is Healing a Process?
When you read the gospels, it appears (on the surface) as though the people who encountered Jesus were healed of all their afflictions and infirmities in one powerful meeting. I’ve been wondering why instead of a one-time encounter, for many of us it seems like healing is a long, drawn out process that never ends.
Some time ago I asked the Holy Spirit to help me understand why it seems to be this way. I want to share the illustration He gave me about the process of healing so that you might have a better idea of what’s going on and why it seems like we’re in a never-ending battle over healing.
The illustration the Lord gave me came from the time when God led His people across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. You remember that the Lord told His people His desire was to give them ALL the land that was occupied by the Canaanites. Though He wanted His people to occupy all the land, He told them He would not drive out all of the inhabitants at once, but only a little at a time. The reason He did not drive out all the inhabitants at once is the key element to this story, so you must get this point: The Lord didn’t drive out their enemies all at once because He knew the Israelites would not be able to occupy the land after a grand, sweeping victory. He knew that the enemy would quickly muster a counter-attack and take back the land. The Lord didn’t just want His people to win a few battles. He wanted them to permanently occupy the land He would give them and enjoy all that it could provide.
The book of Joshua chronicles the various battles where the Israelites did war with the Canaanites. In some places they were victorious and in other places, they failed to drive out all the Canaanites and allowed them to remain there, in spite of the fact that God wanted them completely gone from the land. I have no doubt that some of the battles were hard-fought. I’m sure that the Israelites at times doubted that God actually wanted them to have all the land. After all, if He’s an all-powerful God, why couldn’t He just kill off their enemies in one fell swoop and let them have the land? Why did they have to fight these seemingly never-ending battles?
Today, we hear the same kind of question being asked about healing. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just wipe out all of my illness at once?
Just as the Lord said He wanted the Israelites to have all the land, by healing all who came to Him Jesus demonstrated that it’s God’s desire that we would be healed of all our sickness and disease. So why are we not all healed immediately?
Healing is a form of warfare against the kingdom of darkness. The key to understanding why healing is a process instead of a one-time encounter lies in understanding the purpose for war. Lance Wallnau once said:
“The goal of war is victory, but the goal of victory is occupation.”
The spiritual war we’re engaged in over healing is illustrated in the battles the Israelites had with the Canaanites. God didn’t just want the Israelites to win a few wars over their enemy. He wanted them to thoroughly rout the Canaanites and completely remove them from the land so that they could not come back later and cause problems. It isn’t enough to simply win a war against an enemy, only to be defeated in a counter-attack a few days later. God wanted them to permanently occupy that which He gave them. When an enemy returns to take back what you’ve won, occupation means holding on to what you’ve been given.
I’ve met a lot of people who have received healing only to have the symptoms return a few hours or a few days later. God gave these people the victory they asked for but they did not have the ability to occupy their victory. Their lack of understanding of how the enemy works allowed the kingdom of darkness to take back what God had given them.
Some people have enough awareness of their identity in Christ and they’re wise to the enemy’s schemes so that they can withstand these counter-attacks. But most of the time, the person will lose the battle and go right back into their sickness because they’ve never learned how to hold onto that which the Lord wants to give them. Like the Canaanites, we often settle for less than God’s best for us. Our failure to be healed is not because God doesn’t want us to be healed. It’s because we lack knowledge about the ways of the kingdom and the enemy’s schemes.
Gaining understanding about who we are in Christ, and how the enemy works is not an easy process, but it’s something we must do if we ever hope to occupy the victories the Lord gives us. And that is why most of the time healing is a long, difficult process where we take one step forward and two steps back. I’d like to use my wife’s battles over healing as an illustration of this principle.
Soon after we met, my wife needed healing of a frozen shoulder due to a torn rotator cuff and torn bicep. She was healed with the help of a friend and has had full range of motion ever since. If we were keeping score, at that time the score would have been:
My wife – 1 The enemy – 0
Later she developed a problem with her thyroid which has not responded (yet) to prayer.
Score: My wife – 1 The enemy – 1
Later still she developed insomnia and was eventually healed of it.
Score: My Wife – 2 The enemy – 1
Six months later, the insomnia returned and she has not slept without the aid of medications since then. She gave back that victory to the enemy.
Score: My wife –1 The enemy – 2
Recently she developed a herniated disc in her back, which was a battle, though she was eventually healed of it.
Score: My wife – 2 The enemy – 2
Not surprisingly, the enemy returned several times after my wife’s back was healed. A spirit tried to give her back the pain, but because she had a renewed mind, and was wise to the tricks of the enemy, she was able to withstand these attacks and the spirit of pain left.
Currently the score is: My wife – 2 The Enemy – 2
My wife and I are probably a bit more familiar with the dynamics of healing and deliverance than the average Christian, and yet it’s all we can do sometimes to keep even with the enemy. How much harder must it be for someone who hasn’t watched thousands of hours of teaching on these subjects?
When we’re not prepared to fight off the attacks of the enemy, we can’t occupy the territory God gives us. I believe this is one of the reasons why healing is often a long, difficult process. It’s because we must grow in wisdom about how to occupy our bodies and souls and fend off the attacks of the enemy. Many of us are poorly prepared, mentally to defend against these attacks. I suspect that most of our weakness lies in what we believe about ourselves and about God.
The more we renew our minds to the truth that God loves us and wants us to be healed, the more we empower His work of healing. The more we doubt His love, His goodness, and His desire for us to be healed, the more we empower the enemy to take what God wants us to have. We must learn to discern the presence of spirits that try to make us feel sick or injured and we must learn how to make them leave.
The process of healing and how slowly or how quickly it moves is determined mostly by our own thinking. God can do a lot more with a mind that has been renewed to the truth.