Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper, bible
Take a moment to become still before God. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant insight and wisdom for this exercise.
Using stories to learn of healing
In this exercise you will first examine one of the healing stories from the bible and explore how Jesus restored the sick person and how others played a role in that restoration. After prayerful consideration of the story, you will then look to your own situation as either a caregiver or as someone who is in need of healing and draw parallels between your story and the one you read in the bible.
Take two pieces of paper; title one page “Gospel Story” and the other, “My Story.”
Next, choose one of the healing stories just discussed and read the entire story from the bible. The scripture references are:
- The Roman Centurion: Matthew 8:5–13
- The blind man: John 9:1–12
- The hemorrhaging woman: Luke 8:40–48
- The paralytic: Mark 2:1–12
Examining the story
After reading the story, consider these questions and write down your answers on the page labeled “Bible Story:”
- Other than Jesus, who was/were the main characters of the story? What made them central to the story?
- Who are the minor characters? List them and describe their roles. What was their relationship to the main character?
- If the main character(s) was not the person in need of healing, what role did that character(s) play in helping that person to receive healing?
- What did Jesus do to build a relationship with the sick person? How did that person respond?
- What means did Jesus use to heal that person? How do you think the healing transformed the life of that person? If you were that person, how do you think your life would have been transformed?
- Beyond the physical healing, what evidence of emotional, social, and/or spiritual healing do you see in the story?
- Who represents the community in the story? Remember that a community only needs to consist of one or two other persons. What role does the community play? Are they helpful? Do they ask questions? Are they a hindrance? Do they just witness the healing? How does Jesus engage the community?
Go back over the questions and your notes: do you see any parallels to your own life story? If you do, write them down. If you do not as of yet, do not be concerned as the answers may come at a later point.
A moment to ponder
Before proceeding to the next part of this exercise, take a few moments to be still with God and let the story and your reflections sink in. Imagine the story taking place in your mind as you assume various roles: the sick person receiving the healing; Jesus offering the healing; the other players either helping the sick person to receive the healing or witnessing the miracle. As you imagine these scenes, ask God to reveal to you what he wants you to know.
Examining your story
Now consider these questions tailored more to your story:
- Who is the person in your story that is in need of healing? Is it you? What kind of healing is needed?
- Who are the minor characters in your story? List them. What roles do they play? Are they helpful, a hindrance, or merely bystanders?
- If the main character in your story is you and you are not in need of healing, what role do you play in helping your loved one to receive healing? Looking back over the examples I gave, what creative ways do you employ to bring healing into the life of your loved one? For example, have you prayed for them? Have you kept them company or kept up the house for them? Do you manage their finances and arrange for caregivers? Do you bring communion to them?
- Describe your relationship with the person you are caring for, or, if you are the one receiving care, describe your relationship with your caregiver. Is the relationship loving and helpful, hurtful and combative, or somewhere in between? Does the relationship resemble how Jesus related to the sick and if not, what can you do to bring healing to the relationship?
- If you are in need of healing, what have your prayer requests been? Do you feel you have received any answers and if so, what are they? If you are caring for someone else, have you seen answers to your prayers for them and if so, what are those answers?
- Have you witnessed any physical healing for either yourself or your loved one? Describe what happened. For example, is the pain less severe? Has a cancer gone into remission? Is a new medication working more effectively? Has there been any emotional, social, and/or spiritual healing in your story? Has the person made peace with their situation? Is that person turning to God for help? Has that person stayed in touch with family and friends?
Pray and ponder …
As this exercise comes to an end, take a few moments to be quiet again with the Lord. Reflect again on the gospel story and also on your story: do you see any parallels? If you do, write them down. Ask the Lord to help you be more like Jesus to the person you are caring for or to your caregiver. Take your notes and place them where you will see them and offer them daily to the Lord, asking to be made more like him.
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 2 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press