I am the Lord who heals you. - Exodus 15:26
By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 86:11-17; Isaiah 40:6-41:7; Philippians 1:23-2:4
Along with today's healing theme, I'm struck by a line from Psalm 86 (which will be included in the scripture readings at many churches this coming Sunday): "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name." The image of an undivided heart speaks to me of healing, transformation, change over time, becoming more and more closely aligned with God's love and God's purposes.
The psalm also describes God as "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness," a phrase that's repeated a number of times in the Old Testament, beginning with Exodus 34:6, when God gives Moses the second set of stone tablets containing the covenant and the Ten Commandments. The echos of God's forgiveness, mercy, and healing power echo down through Israel's history for hundreds of years.
Today's section from Isaiah 40 also contains some well-known images of God, the all-powerful creator who comes first and last, being involved intimately in human life. We read some of these lines in the Advent and Epiphany seasons.
Then there's Paul in Philippians, calling for believers to be of one mind, getting ready to sing the "Christ hymn" which will come in tomorrow's readings. For all the problems and flaws that plague human life, Paul writes that God's grace and mercy in Christ is the solution for healing. And he calls on these people, whom he loves, to "only live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."
For me personally today, "healing" means several things. I ran with new insoles, trying to overcome some foot pain. I'm a week or so into a yet-again-renewed effort to eat the right foods more consistently and avoid foods that give me problems with cholesterol, triglycerides, or kidney stone risk factors. I have some goals for time management and prioritization and getting enough sleep that I know will help me stay healthier. Physical, mental, social, relational, and other -als are all dimensions of healing that I hope for.
Today's scriptures remind me that healing is an ongoing process, and that we do seem to fall into the same patterns and fight the same battles repeatedly. But God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, saving us by grace in Christ, and giving the path of healing as a gift for us to walk in. From the last verses of Isaiah 40: "He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Thank you for the healing you bring, God! May it continue, and spread and overflow for the healing of the whole world. May we have an undivided heart to listen, and rejoice and give thanks, and follow in your path.