Two days after I had my heart broken, many years ago, I typed these words into my computer journal: “The world is frost-bitten today. It feels kind of like my heart, I’d imagine. Numb, frozen … life hidden behind the death that has overtaken the branches of all the trees and the leaves of all the bushes. Sometimes it just takes so much work to keep breathing … for this heart to keep beating even though it’s been shattered to smithereens.”
Have you ever been there before? Where your soul feels like it’s suffocating under the weight of the news you’ve just received? The doctor tells you it’s cancer. The phone call says, “I’m so sorry … he’s no longer with us.” Someone you love says, “I don’t love you anymore”—or worse, “I never loved you.”
They are words that seem to have such a sense of finality, and yet our brains cannot comprehend how they could possibly be true. And it’s in the midst of this gaping pain that it’s hardest to believe this truth about God—that He is Yahweh Rophe—the Lord Who Heals.
Our instinctive, human response is to retort, “No, God, You didn’t heal! You allowed him to die. You allowed her to break my heart. You allowed this horrible illness to rip apart her body.” And we question whether or not we can trust this aspect of God’s character.
The beauty of God’s character, though, is that it stays constant and true, despite our questioning. And the beauty that is revealed in this particular name of God goes much deeper than we can imagine—revealing a purpose for even the most painful and difficult things we go through in life.
We see this name of God on display in John chapter 9 where Jesus heals the blind man, and answers His disciples’ questions about why the man was blind—was it based off of his own sins or the sins of his parents? Jesus answers them candidly, “‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:3).
John MacArthur’s commentary on this verse says, “Jesus did not deny the general connection between sin and suffering, but refuted the idea that personal acts of sin were the direct cause. God’s sovereignty and purposes play a part in such matters, as is clear from Job 1–2.”1
These two men—the blind man and Job—illustrate this principle clearly. Both suffered greatly. And both of them experienced suffering through the gracious wisdom of God’s sovereignty—that which is in charge of all our suffering and healing. God chooses to heal some and not to heal others—at least physically—both for the purpose of bringing Him glory.
But we also have to look beyond our desires for physical (or emotional) healing, and genuinely ask ourselves, “Are we able to accept God’s healing in all of its aspects—even if it’s not what we initially wanted?”
We tend to desire instant healing. We want the pain to go away right now, which is why we have so many pills and medicines to make our physical aching stop. But is it possible that God has something to teach us in the midst of our pain that is a part of the process of healing? Is it possible that He is healing us, even when it doesn’t look like it? Is it possible that it might take years, and we have to faithfully choose to walk with God and trust Him, even when our emotions are raw and unstable? Is it possible that God the Son understands suffering far beyond what we’ve ever experienced, and He died to absorb the full weight of it, so that we don’t have to?
Yes, I believe it is possible, and that it is so. Isaiah 53 eloquently describes the suffering of Jesus, and verse 5 says, “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.”
We are healed. It is a promise. And it is a present tense promise. It means that even right this moment—if we are walking with the Lord—He is working on healing our hearts. Because ultimately, in the greatest wound on the cross, He forever healed us from the sickness of sin and separation from God. And even if we don’t feel like we’re experiencing the effects of healing in this life, one day, we’ll cross into heaven and we will at last be forever and perfectly healed.
My journal entry on that long-ago November day went on to say, “[I must] wait for the night to end, wait for new hope to rise, wait for the joy of living to be restored … ” But woven in among the shards was this thought, “Only a Jesus who died to restore brokenness could put together these miniscule pieces into a beautiful masterpiece.”
The night did end. Hope did rise, and joy was restored. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen in a month. Healing rarely ever does. But as we wait, we can take comfort that we have hope in a God who is the perfect Healer, and He will never let us go, even in the midst of our pain and sorrow.
And with the psalmist, we can say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2–5).
Whether our weeping ends in this life or the next, we can know for sure that our Lord—our Healer—is catching all our tears in a bottle and cradling them in His nail-scarred hands. He will walk us through our darkest valley—and it may be that in that valley, we find the deepest healing we could know—our peace in Christ.
1The MacArthur Study Bible, John MacArthur, 1997 Word Publishing, pg. 1559