When I was in my early twenties, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness, loud ringing, hearing loss, and a feeling of congestion in the ears. It was debilitating, and it affected nearly every aspect of my life.
Because this disease is extremely rare in young people, it remained undiagnosed for almost a year. The side effects were written off as sinus infections, multiple antibiotic doses were administered, and one doctor suggested that I was just “under a lot of stress.”
What I remember most about that year of tests and misdiagnosis is my mother. She called weekly to ask if I was feeling better, and as time passed on and side effects became more severe, she went out of her way to call specialists and help make appointments. Talking on the phone with her one afternoon, the ringing became so loud that I could hardly hear her voice. I cried. With desperation, my mom said, “I wish I could take this away from you.”
There is little that makes us feel more helpless as parents than when a child suffers physically. I know most parents would take on a disease their child suffers from in a heartbeat, but we simply cannot stop a child’s physical suffering.
But the beautiful news of the gospel is that Jesus is the great Healer. Scripture is filled with true stories about a God who restores, gives strength to the weak, and heals those who are physically and spiritually tormented.
Parents, when a child suffers physically, you can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus cares for their bodies as much as he cares about their souls.
Jesus, the Healer Who Cares for Our Bodies
In Luke 8:26-39, we read about a man possessed by a legion of demons, a body literally invaded by hell itself. Wearing no clothes and living among the tombs, this man was bound by shackles that could not hold him because of the torment of these demons. Surely, this man suffered physically day in and day out, but he could not heal himself.
None of us possess the ability to heal either ourselves or our children. No matter how hard we try to keep our children’s bodies healthy, fevers come, and disease inflicts, often causing anxiety for parents because we are powerless in the face of sickness. And while many recover from short-term illness, there are also children whose physical fight is life-long: asthma, type-1 diabetes, cerebral palsy, autism, and the list goes on.
In our story in Luke, there is a holy moment where Jesus, the only One who can truly heal, commands the legion of demons to leave this man’s body. He sends the mob into a herd of pigs. Even the evil spirits must obey Jesus, the Healer, the King.
But that is not the most wonderful part of the story. You see, if the man had been physically healed, but did not come to an understanding of who Jesus is, his life would continue to be an open door to the torments of hell. But, Jesus, by his grace, frees this man beyond his physical burdens. He restores his soul! What love. What mercy.
Will Jesus always heal our children from their physical ailments? No. Scripture never makes such a promise. While there are stories throughout history of miraculous healings by God, sometimes suffering does not diminish or go away. What God does promise is that there will be a day when all our diseases are removed forever and all that is broken will be made new again (Rev. 21:5).
Because this is the future for every believer in Jesus, talking about the New Heavens and the New Earth is never time wasted. Point your child to this glorious hope whether they are experiencing physical suffering or not. Everything we smell, taste, and see on this earth can be experienced in light of the perfection that is to come. Your eternal perspective is strengthened as you imagine the glory that awaits us all.
Jesus, the Healer Who Cares for Our Souls
As a result of his healing, the formerly possessed man begs God, let me go with you! Now that his body has been healed, his soul longs for nothing more than to be with Jesus.
But interestingly, Jesus sends him home, exhorting him to spread the message of all that Jesus did to heal him so that he will never be spiritually sick again (vs. 38-39). The Healer uses physical suffering to reveal himself to this formerly sick man, and his life is eternally changed because of it. Not only his life, but the lives of all those who heard a testimony from a man saved by Jesus.
Purpose in Our Pain
Two weeks after the official Meniere’s diagnosis, I awoke in deafening silence. Fear flooded my body as the room spun and ringing filled my ears. I spent that evening with God, crying to him, being honest with him, and asking him to help me move forward when I did not want to take another step.
During the next three months, I experimented with different treatments that eventually proved helpful. But amid the chaos, my relationship with Jesus was strengthened. He became my anchor. My understanding of what it means to truly trust in him was awakened. What were once mere lyrics sung, the phrase “leaning on the Everlasting arms” became a mantra I said with heart-felt necessity.
I devoured God’s Word, searching to understand more about his faithfulness, and I talked to the Healer every day. In a season of needed refreshment for a soul that had become spiritually dry, Jesus filled me until I was overflowing.
This is how Jesus works as the Healer of souls, and he is able to do the same for your child, even in the midst of physical suffering. Tim Keller once added to the familiar words from J.R.R Tolkien: “Everything sad is going to come untrue,” and Keller remarks,” it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”
Who is Jesus? He is the healer of our broken bodies, and he is the restorer of lost souls. Praise be to God.
Did you know we now have a Parent Guide for walking with your children through our newest study, Knowing Jesus? If you purchase the Knowing Jesus bonus curriculum, you’ll be able to share these guides with all of your youth group’s parents. Families will be able to talk about the Scripture, the questions, and the main takeaways together at home. We also think this is a perfect study for your summer programming. Since each lesson pulls from different parts of the Bible, students who have missed a lesson from summer trips won’t fall behind, and can even go through their missed lessons at home as a family in their own time. It’s a flexible study, perfect for looping in families and introducing new believers and non-believers to Jesus. If you’ve already purchased this study, the parent guides are in your library. If you haven’t, go ahead and purchase today so you can study with the youth in your life, whether at church or at home.