04.05.22 | by Kelly Wolfe
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. - Mark 8:22-25
This short account of healing occurs only in Mark’s gospel, but it’s one of my favorites. We can learn so much from these four verses about healing.
Healing Happens in Community
The blind man is brought to Jesus by others in his community. They too knew (or knew of) Jesus and knew that he had been a source of healing for so many others. Isn’t this true for us still? Sometimes we are so in it with what ails us that we need to borrow the faith of those around us to get us to our Healer. Maybe we feel like we’ve tried everything. Maybe we don’t even realize we need healing in this particular area, but those around us can see it. Maybe we have forgotten that Jesus can and does heal, redeem, restore, and resurrect so it hasn’t occurred to us to ask. Or maybe we’ve begged and pleaded with God, but we haven’t seen any change. Even in our most desperate or needy circumstances, we can see how important it is to belong to a community of people who will rally around you, lend you their faith, their arms, their feet to bring you to the Source of Healing.
Especially in the American church, many of us have been taught to “play church”. When asked how we’re doing by our pastors or priests or fellow parishioners, we often reply, “Good, how about you?” .. “God is good!” … “I’m so blessed.” All the while we are living with unhealed pain, wounds, and habits. Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber has remarked often about the wide discrepancy of honesty found between church sanctuaries and church basements. AA meetings, Celebrate Recovery, etc being often located in church basements as spaces for seeking greater healing, The one thing required there is honesty about where we’re at. Performative answers and pretending things are fine will get you called out real fast in those rooms. But cut to Sunday morning, when the church’s members begin to file into pews and greet one another with the sign of peace, the raw honesty and relentless pursuit of healing often disappears. Jesus is called in scripture the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Healer, Deliverer, and Almighty God. What if we believed that — for ourselves and each other?
Healing Isn’t Always Immediate, Once and For All
Part of what I love about this interaction is Jesus checking in with the man to confirm what he sees. Jesus is FOR our healing, our freedom, our deliverance. He isn’t aloof or distant or casual about it. He lays his hands on this man, covers his eyes in saliva (a mystery I’ll never understand, but OK, Jesus), and then asks questions to make sure we are receiving what he wants for us.
The other part I love is the honesty of the blind man. To go from being completely blind to seeing - even seeing “men as trees walking” - is a miracle. He has sight! His circumstances are better! He received healing! But he knows it’s incomplete and refuses to settle for partial healing, when he knows there is more available.
This resonates deeply with me. As someone who has experienced complex, compound traumas in my life and struggled with substance abuse to medicate the pain of that trauma, I have no trouble accepting that healing comes in stages most often. When an addict admits powerlessness and asks for help, that’s miraculous. When they detox and go through withdrawals from a substance, that’s another level of freedom or healing (even though it’s akin to having saliva rubbed on your eyes and doesn’t feel like a blessing). When they get time under their belt and have a chance for introspection, inventory, and therapy to help them understand and work through the circumstances that brought them to the place of wanting to anesthetize, that’s another major step in healing! Even when they relapse and return to the process they know can bring them back into health, that’s miraculous. Going back to the story in Mark, if an addict were to just accept the very first or second instances of deliverance from addiction, without being honest about what they still need and pursuing greater healing, they may be better off but they are not free and are likely to still experience great suffering from what lies underneath. The same applies to survivors of abuse, the process of grief, working through PTSD or depression or anxiety, and chronic physical illnesses and injuries. While it’s important to praise God for and to celebrate any and all experiences of healing or deliverance, we can remain bound, blind, and burdened (just … less so) if we don’t answer Jesus honestly when he asks how we’re doing.
What if we committed to being like Jesus and pressing back on our fellow members who declare they are healed, but it’s a partial healing? What if we became like the community of people around this blind man and lent them our faith, our arms, our feet, our support, our love … carrying them to Jesus to insist on the full miracle? Who among us might experience more fullness of joy, freedom, empathy, patience in waiting, faithfulness, and compassion (for self and others) when we decide to believe that Jesus is for us, cares about what we care about, loves us immeasurably, and is able?
God, in his rich mercy and grace, has given us all kinds of tools and methods by which we can alleviate our suffering, address our wounds and traumas, regulate our brains, bodies, & nervous systems, and find belonging, support, and love along the way. While I absolutely believe that God can and does still heal people by miraculous, supernatural intervention, that’s not the ONLY kind of healing I mean. A community of faith, recovery support groups, therapists, psychiatrists, medication, surgical intervention, good nutrition, sleep, and more are all common graces of God for humankind (though definitely more available, affordable, and destigmatized among certain populations). Each of these can play a part in someone’s healing journey, and are gifts of God for the children of God.
A Resource for Our Community: KHESED WELLNESS
Here at Annunciation, we are so thrilled to partner with Khesed Wellness to offer no-to-low-cost Mental Health services to our community. A licensed mental health therapist will be on our campus two days a week offering in-person appointments. There are also licensed therapists currently offering virtual visits for those who prefer online appointments. They offer appointments to anyone, of any background, in any community and prioritize inclusivity for BIPOC, the LGBTQIA+ community, and others who statistically have a harder time finding therapy services that are safe places to land. To schedule an appointment, you may either call Khesed Wellness at (720) 575-9889, or fill out the form on their website (https://www.khesedwellness.com/contact) All calls and online inquiries will be returned within one business day by one of the therapists, who will complete the initial (free) phone consultation and schedule the first appointment.