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A Holy Healing

There's a story about a preacher's little boy who was outside playing. Mom called him in to eat and reminded him to wash his hands because he might have germs on them. The little boy was doubly irritated — first for having to come in from his play, and second because he had heard Mom's germ-speech many times. As he reluctantly headed for the bathroom sink, he mumbled, "Germs and Jesus. Gem's and Jesus.  That's all I ever hear around here, and I've never seen either one!" The recent sagas of American doctor Kent Brantly and Samritan's Purse aid worker Nancy Writebol remind us germs and viruses are a very real threat to human health. These Americans contracted the deadly Ebola virus disease while treating victims of the disease in Liberia, a West African nation suffering an Ebola disease epidemic (1,300 have died so far). Their ordeal constantly in news headlines as they underwent isolation and experimental treatment in Liberia before being flown to an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in early August. For awhile doctors and family and friends feared they might die, but the story has taken a much happier turn. Today (Thursday, 8/21/14) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol to be cured, saying they no longer have the Ebola virus in their blood and pose no risk to household contacts or the public. Consequently, they have both been released from the hospital to be with their families after weeks of isolation and quarantine and uncertainty. Thank God for the recovery of these two brave, dedicated people. Congratulations to them and to the medical experts who watched over and worked with them with skill and compassion throughout the months-long ordeal.

The Brantly-Writebol case brought to my mind the cases of miraculous healing performed by Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Matthew 8:1-15 records three of them. In that brief space Jesus healed a leper (vs 14), a Roman solider's servant who suffered a severe, painful paralysis (vs 5-13), and Peter's mother-in-law of a fever (vs 14-15). All these conditions were potentially fatal and beyond the scope of human ability to cure. But man's impossibility is simply God's opportunity, and Jesus cured these physical maladies, not with weeks of medical treatment and tests — but miraculously and instantaneously! With nothing but a touch or a word, and, in the case of the paralyzed servant, without ever even seeing the patient! Bible students have long seen Jesus' miraculous healing of physical ailments as a picture of a much greater kind of healing received only through Christ's divine aid — the healing of the soul through forgiveness of sins! The apostle Peter linked our spiritual healing and health to Christ and the cross in 1 Peter 2:24 with these marvelous words — "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed." Words from the beautiful "There is a Balm in Gilead" point us to Jesus as the soul's Great Physician and remind us that the most important kind of healing we need is not in our bodies but in our souls — "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul" (see Jeremiah 8:20-22 and Exodus 15:26). There is a world-wide epidemic of sin-sick souls who need a holy healing. God's only medicine to heal them is that they hear and obey the "gos-pill" of Christ (Mark 16:15-16). Are you helping to spread the cure?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ