It’s an uncomfortable reality. We pray for healing and and people still die. Christians still battle diseases and affliction, despite our appeals to Christ. It’s a healing community with a patchy record. But Henri Nouwen throws a different light on it.
“A Christian community is a healing community not because wounds are cured and pains are alleviated, but because wounds and pains become openings or occasions for a new vision.” (The Wounded Healer)
We can become so focused on the present moment that we sometimes lose sight of the coming glory. I want healing right now, because right now feels so important and suffering is, well … so insufferable. Yet, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
The Gospel does not eradicate suffering, despite the bold claims to the contrary we may sometimes hear. Hardships continue. Heartache happens. Hurts abound. Following Jesus provides no hedge against brokenness. It does, however, change our perspective of it. The Gospel allows us to see, share, discuss, and process our pain in a different way.
Our wounds—raw, scabbed, or scarred—indeed provide openings for a new vision. It’s not the simplistic hope that “this too shall pass” but the deeper and richer awareness that Christ suffers with us, and holds us. And in our afflictions, whether they last a day or a decade, His grace makes all the difference.
On our best days, we are not a community of well-wishers or glad-handers, nor even of the cured or the incurably optimistic. Rather, in our most God-honoring and God-shaped moments we are the community of “a new vision.” We see what others do not—the hand of God, the Presence of God, the grace of God, that sustains us in our tears and comforts our fears. We hold forth a vision of both grace for this moment and glory for eternity that grants us much-needed strength and endurance.
May we have eyes to see more clearly the grace of God that lies beyond, behind, and beneath this moment.