‘We don’t de­serve God’s heal­ing’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - ADVERTORIAL/RELIGION - You can fol­low/con­tact Pas­tor Paul Reynolds on Twit­ter @PaulTReynolds Pr Ti­mothy Reynolds My Per­spec­tive

2 Chron­i­cles 7:14 (NIV) “…if my peo­ple, who are called by my name, will hum­ble them­selves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will for­give their sin and will heal their land.”

When my friend sat down with the sales di­rec­tor they were given an ex­cit­ing prom­ise; meet your sales tar­gets for this year and we will make you a Sales Man­ager. It was an ex­cit­ing prom­ise to hear.

They had been strug­gling for sales in re­cent months and had been los­ing mo­ti­va­tion, and this gave them the push they needed to up their game. I was in sales too, I worked next to the per­son who had been given that great prom­ise of pro­mo­tion, I sold the same con­sult­ing ser­vices they did…but the prom­ise wasn’t for me.

In my case I didn’t have the same track record my col­league did and one year of bust­ing my tar­gets wouldn’t be enough.

As the sales di­rec­tor pointed out to me on a later date, “I think you would make a bet­ter sales man­ager than sales­man … but you don’t beat your tar­gets well enough for me to pro­mote you.”

There would have been no point in my go­ing to the sales di­rec­tor and say­ing to him, “Hey, you said, ‘If you meet your tar­gets this year I will pro­mote you’ … but when I look at the tran­scripts you didn’t men­tion my col­league by NAME, so the prom­ise has to ap­ply to me.”

I could have tried it, I sup­pose, but he could have just pointed out that he was ob­vi­ously talk­ing to Sarah and I had no right to take him out of con­text like that. The above verse has given rise to a dizzy­ing ar­ray of In­ter­net memes, made it onto count­less Pinterest boards and even crafted into hang­ings for your home. All with the in­tent of en­cour­ag­ing you to be­lieve that what­ever you think needs fix­ing about the coun­try you live in, then if enough Chris­tians would “pray and seek (God’s) face and turn from (wicked) ways,” then God will do as we asked of him.

But God wasn’t talk­ing to Zim­babwe in 2017. Nor was he talk­ing to the US, or Great Bri­tain, or any other coun­try. He was talk­ing to King Solomon al­most 3 000 years ago about Is­rael, and at the time they didn’t need heal­ing. Solomon had been pray­ing in the pre­vi­ous chap­ter (2 Chron­i­cles 6) that in the con­text of fu­ture events whereby God — un­der the old covenant of pun­ish­ing the whole coun­try when the whole coun­try ne­glected the poor or wor­shipped idols — in that con­text, Solomon asked God for the prayers of believ­ers to be an­swered with a Yes . For some rea­son lots of peo­ple want to try and get lever­age with God — as if such a thing were pos­si­ble. The hunt is on to find a prom­ise that God made to some­one, some­where, some­times, and then hi­jack it for own use.

As if God would be con­fused or caught out by us claim­ing a prom­ise we were never given, and give us what we wanted any­way. Or as if, as some peo­ple openly claim, any prom­ise that God has given to any­body ever, is a prom­ise that God has made to us.

So when we claim God’s heal­ing on our coun­try on the ba­sis of the above verse, or try to make other Chris­tians feel guilty be­cause the lack of heal­ing is prob­a­bly down to their be­ing too wicked … then we are like me go­ing into Tim’s of­fice ask­ing for the pro­mo­tion he promised to some­body else whilst blam­ing my col­leagues for my own poor sales fig­ures.

So what prom­ise can we claim for heal­ing?

Many peo­ple across Zim­babwe are in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion, just as there are count­less mil­lions across the world who know noth­ing ex­cept grind­ing poverty and de­pri­va­tion.

Which prom­ises of God can they claim? None. Not for na­tional “heal­ing” any­way. God hasn’t promised it, so you can’t claim it.

Our re­la­tion­ship with God doesn’t work that way. He’s the Creator of the uni­verse and the Lord of all cre­ation who will do what is best and al­low what he al­lows ac­cord­ing to His per­fect wis­dom and right­eous­ness, and not ac­cord­ing to our abil­ity to ful­fil or claim a con­tract with us that he never made. Our hope when we pray for our bro­ken and suf­fer­ing peo­ple there­fore, is not that God owes us one and we need to be good enough so we can claim it. Rather, our hope is that God is not only right­eous and holy but also pa­tient, mer­ci­ful, com­pas­sion­ate, kind and lov­ing.

So, we beg God to have mercy on our un­de­serv­ing coun­tries with its un­de­serv­ing peo­ple. We plead with him to heal us from sick­ness, famine, poverty, home­less­ness and abuse. And we beg him to heal peo­ple from their own sin. I didn’t de­serve to be­come a sales man­ager so I didn’t, and there was no point ask­ing for mercy. Zim­babwe doesn’t de­serve God’s heal­ing — nowhere does — so let’s pray that God will have mercy.

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