Monday, March 04, 2013

Making God Holier Than God

I had an interesting, I think that's the right word, thing happen to me on Facebook.
I was blocked and banned from someone's page.
What made it so interesting is how it happened.

This person had written an intriguing book about his relationship with Jesus and where it had led him. In the course of the book, he said that he had a stroke and was completely healed through prayer.

Since I have known a few people who have been healed through prayer, I certainly don't discount it. My mother was in the hospital, with all of her systems shutting down, and the doctors told me that she was dying. She received the Last Rites and went on to live another 10 or so years. What was the miraculous part was that literally....and I mean literally....immediately after being anointed, her vital signs stabilized and everything restarted.  So I do believe in the healing power of prayer.

Back to the man and the stroke. Later on in the book, he said he had a second stroke and again was completely healed.  And again, I was ready to accept him at his word since I know that people often have a second stroke soon after a first on.

All of this took place about nine months to a year ago, I'm guessing, from the time frame in his book. Last week, he put up on his Facebook page that he had been completely healed from what he seemed to be saying was a third stroke. So, being a journalist by trade, I asked two questions: one, had he had any underlying medical conditions checked out and two, if this was the same incident as the double stroke or a new one.

His reply to me was that I was playing Devil's Advocate and wasn't willing to give God the glory, so he banned me. Without answering either question.

I tell this story because I've been reading and pondering a good deal about prayer and healing the past few weeks and in the accounts I've read, there is a tendency to make God holier and "gooder" than God is. I'm not saying that the people don't tell the truth about being healed.  It's more that they exaggerate their stories so that God appears to have done something really really extraordinary.

It's almost as if we want to be sure that people know that God is really really awesome, so we feel the need to "defend" him, make his actions better than they really are. I think it stems from the fact that we want to believe that God will part the Red Seas of our lives.
As I said, I do believe in the power of prayer to heal. It's just that most of the time, healing is a process that occurs in tandem with medical treatment. And when it happens that way, God doesn't seem quite as "holy," so people tend to embellish their stories, just a bit, to be sure that God gets sufficient glory. 

As the Church's canonization process shows, true miracles can withstand any amount of Devil's Advocacy. In the end, a rigorously examined miracle actually gives more glory to God than anything we can say or do.

As for the man with the strokes, thanks be to God for his healing. And to God be the glory.

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