He always leads toward wholeness.
 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.(James 1:2-8 NIV)
God’s richest blessings await those who follow after His Spirit, instead of being directed only by their senses and circumstances.Kenneth E. Hagin
When I pray for healing in my own body, I start with the promise of God from the Bible. I then believe I receive when I pray. I begin to speak words of faith, speaking to obstacles and giving thanks that healing is mine. Then comes the challenge of acting on my faith. We have seen that there are three basic principles for deciding what actions I should take:
- Do what the Bible says to do.
- Do what love would do.
- Do what the Spirit tells you to do.
In that space of time between “I believe I receive” and the wonderful moment when faith becomes sight, God promises me that I can ask Him for wisdom, and He will give it to me. The question is, will I recognize it when it comes. We’re going to spend some time honing that ability. Let me begin with a personal story and some lessons to be learned.
When I was 21 years old, I suffered a back injury on the job. The pain was bad. I couldn’t walk upright for a few days and had to endure daily treatments of traction and physical therapy. The orthopedic surgeon informed me that I should expect to be crippled by the time I was 45 years old, and that a new injury could very easily occur at any time: “Be careful picking up a pencil.” Over the next 10 years, I endured occasional bouts with back pain, some bad enough to lay me up for a while. Then something happened.
In 1979, I gave my life to the Lord Jesus. In 1980, I went to bible school where I was immersed in teaching on faith and the power of God to heal. I believed and received healing for my back. Again, I had occasional tests in this area, but the Word of God served me well. I resisted the devil, spoke to the pain, and continued in a very active life. No more emergency rooms for 31 years!
In 2010, we were pastoring a church in Tucson. I was having some physical challenges, but my back was OK. I was 17 years past the age of 45, and I was not crippled. Thank You, Jesus. One day, as I sat in my office puzzling over some church uproar or another, I heard the Holy Spirit on the inside of me say, “You need to stop carrying the weight.” That still, small voice inside of me gave me a much-needed warning: I was carrying the care of the ministry, and I was not designed to do that. I was weighed down.
I paid attention for a few days, but soon got re-immersed in the cares of an adolescent church. In January of 2011, a disc in my lumbar spine ruptured. It had been hurting for a while, but on Sunday morning, as I prepped for the worship service, I fell to my knees in pain. They hauled me to the Emergency Room, where I was informed that I would need to stay still and go for an orthopedic surgery consult. The x-ray showed a sliver of the disc material jammed against a nerve, the disc was badly compressed, and the adjacent vertebrae had a crack in it. Bummer!
Lesson #1: The Spirit of God tried to warn me about this. He spoke to me, but I didn’t change my lifestyle in the way He led me. Instead, I redoubled my human effort, increasing my running regimen, increasing the number of crunches I did every day, and becoming even more buried in work. Spiritual things can and do impact physical well-being. I tried to strengthen my body, and applied lots sheer willpower, but the issue was a spiritual one. I was carrying weight that should have been the Lord’s, and I am not a beast of burden. I broke under the strain. People frequently ask, “Why did God let this happen?” In this case, He tried to warn me, but I was too busy trying to do His job to let Him help me.
When I made it to my primary physician, he reviewed the x-rays and showed me the fragment pressing the nerve and the fracture line in the vertebrae. He scheduled me for an MRI and a visit to the surgeon. The surgeon had good news and bad news. The crack in the vertebrae had completely disappeared! Glory to God! However, the source of the pain was still there. The disc was badly compressed, and the exudate sliver was still pressing the nerve. I could either have a steroid injection in my spine every few months, or I could try surgery with a 50/50 chance of success. We scheduled the injection and went home to pray. (I was uninsured, so we were looking at quite a bill for either option.)
I’m a firm believer in James 1:5, so we asked God for wisdom in the midst of this trying of our faith. As we prayed, I couldn’t find any peace in my heart about either choice. I was living on Advil and putting heat and cold on my back around the clock. I wanted relief, but I couldn’t override the red light in my spirit. I cancelled the injection. No peace, no procedure.
Lesson #2: Follow after peace in your heart. The people around you will have lots of good ideas and sympathetic advice. They want you to be out of pain. God bless them, but don’t let them override your heart. The best physicians will give you advice based on what they see. That’s good information, and you should take it into account. But even when your body is screaming at you, don’t move until you have peace. This is not easy, especially if you’ve not honed this skill before the crisis arises.
One day early in the Spring, I had a really bizarre thought. I had received a coupon for free admission to the local home and garden show. The spirit on the inside of me seemed to prod me, not a voice but an inner “nudge.” I wanted to go to the home show! I almost laughed out loud. Just getting in and out of the car was a major chore. The idea of walking around the civic auditorium looking at storm windows and hot tubs just didn’t seem inviting. In fact, I wouldn’t do that even if I felt good. But the urge on the inside just wouldn’t go away. I told my wife and she looked at me quizzically, but after trying several times to back out, we headed for downtown. When the Holy Spirit nudges you repeatedly, obey!
After a terribly slow stroll into the arena, almost immediately inside the door I noticed a sign for a chiropractic clinic. There was some verbiage about back injuries. The lovely lady at the registration table saw us looking and began telling us about this wonderful chiropractor. (I thought chiropractors were just a little worse than witch doctors, but I tried to be polite.) Before I could escape, she had taken me to meet the good doctor. I liked him immediately. As it turned out, we had lived in the same town growing up. He’s a good Christian man with a commitment to mission work. He was even conversant with Oklahoma football! We were bonded in minutes. He listened to my tale and told me to come by the office for a consult. I did.
For the sake of your time, let me just say, the results were little short of miraculous. By September, eight months post-injury, I was pain free, almost back to normal activity (I now ride a bike instead of running). A subsequent MRI showed a complete reversal of the disc injury. The sliver jammed against the nerve just disappeared. (The radiology guy stood looking at the old film and the new one, then said, “Reverend, we don’t see this very often.”) Thank You, Jesus! I am healed!!!
Lesson #3: Be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit on the inside, even if they don’t seem to make sense. Be led, not driven. Let faith and love take the lead and don’t follow fear and external pressure. The Spirit of God lives in you. It would behoove you to learn to pay attention to what goes on in there!
Lesson #4: Don’t be too proud to go to the doctor or make adjustments of lifestyle that seem foreign to you. For me to go to a chiropractor was kind of like Naaman dipping in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:8-14) I didn’t put much store in doctors, much less in chiropractors. God has a twisted sense of humor when it comes to humbling me!
Here’s the point: God wants you healed. He has paid the price to provide that healing but there are many variables in this fallen world. When you’ve believed and spoken and thanked Him for your healing, yet symptoms persist, don’t despair! Count it joy and ask Him for wisdom. He will give it. He knows things you don’t, so be prepared to take steps you wouldn’t ordinarily consider. The key element is knowing the leading of the Spirit of God and the witness of your own human spirit. (Romans 8:14-16)
Next Steps: This week, start forming a few new habits:
- Pray in tongues at least 10 minutes every day. (More is better)
- Pay attention to how you make choices and decisions. What motivates you? Fear? Pressure? Pride? Be honest.
- Before you make any decision, stop, get quiet and see how you feel about it on the inside.
- Stop doing things that make you feel bad in your heart or that bother your conscience.
- Read James 1:2-8 every day. Take one verse each day and write down something you can learn or do because of what the verse says. Let the scripture change you.
In our next lessons we will grow in our ability and willingness to follow God’s Spirit in every aspect of life. God wants you healed and so do I.
Pastor Virgil Stokes
Visit pastorvirgil.com #HealingHelp for all the installments in this series.