Wounded Healers

  Tuesday 1st September, 2015
  Author: Mike Breen
  Categories: missional
  Topic(s): Healing

For 30 years I have felt compelled to heal the sick.

I’ve no idea how many people I’ve prayed for or how many people I’ve trained to do the same, but the motivation for this compulsion is very much as it always was: if we are to be disciples of Jesus we have to learn to do all the things that Jesus did, and one of the most important things he did was heal the sick.

For many of those 30 years I have focused on the truths that I have needed to learn about healing, truths that have helped me (and others) to pray more effectively for the sick and I’ve tried to be honest about the difficulties I’ve confronted along the way.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned so far:

You can pray in hope.

Hope, which borders on, or actually becomes desperation, is something that we see regularly in those who came to Jesus for healing. The blind men – one of whom was Bartimaeus – cried out “Son of David have
mercy on us!” (1) Desperation and mercy go well together. Our desperation – which you might call ‘hope in a time of crisis’ – meets God’s mercy, and a miracle happens. Hope is always a useful backdrop to our prayers especially when the prayer is for ourselves or for those who are closest to us.

You can pray in faith.

Faith that is ‘as small as a mustard seed’ (2) is all we need – that’s what Jesus tells us. But faith, however large, comes by ‘hearing’ (3) the word of Christ. That ‘word’ – which for me is usually something along the lines of – ‘The Father wants his children well’, creates faith in my heart and in the hearts of others.
Faith is born out of God’s word to us, rather than simply our need, and so it is greater than hope, for our faith is ‘hope
made certain’ (4). Faith is particularly helpful when you are praying for lots of sick people and do not have either the time or the capacity to ‘feel’ everyone’s hurt. Some of the most remarkable healings I’ve seen occurred through people who were simply praying for others out of obedience and faith, with very little sense of emotional engagement. So we can pray in hope and we can pray in faith (by now I’m sure you know where I’m going), but we can also pray in another way, something that the apostle Paul calls a ‘better way’ (5).

A Better Way

When I look at the passages that speak of Jesus healing the sick it appears as though he was simply moved by love. For instance, when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed the sick. – Matthew 14:14

I was texting a friend of mine, Chad Norris – the Pastor of the local church that Sally and I attend – the other day and he expressed this truth really well. I thought I would share our text conversation with you:

Text Message with Mike Breen and Friend

What was the channel of God’s healing power in Jesus?


But love wounds our hearts. If we are to
heal – or for that matter do anything – out of love, it will wound us. Why is this? Because people are just like you and me, often they don’t know how to respond to, or even recognize, love.

When we open our hearts with love we voluntarily rend open the most vulnerable part of us. Our open-hearts will remain as wounds if they are not closed by love returned to us. Doing the work of love in this way puts us in a place where we begin to relate to the world as he does – from a wounded heart. And it’s from this wounded heart that God’s love will flow and heal. Of course, even though our love may not be returned to us by those we serve, we will find that God more than makes up for the love that we have not received. It is here we begin to live the life of Jesus; it’s here that we begin to feel the pain of compassion.

Jesus’ Example

Let’s look at his example again.
‘Two blind men were sitting by the roadside... They shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.’ – Matthew 20:30 – 34
‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ –Matthew 9:36
Love is the fountainhead from which healing – and every other good thing that God wants for us – flows.

The God who lives within us has opened a spring in our wounded hearts that can flow with healing to others. And so when we pray for anything, including the healing of others, though it wound us, love will always be our best guide and our greatest inspiration. And the wound that we bear will be beautiful in the eyes of God.

Paul put it like this; ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (6).
We can change people’s lives by offering our hope, we can move mountains by exercising our faith, but the greatest things we will ever achieve will flow from a wounded heart of love.

And so we choose to be wounded healers.

(1) Matthew 20:30 (2) Matthew 17:20 (3) Romans 10:17 (4) Hebrews 11:1 (5) 1 Corinthians 12:31b (6) 1 Corinthians 13:13