That title may not make any sense to you off the top; let me explain. In Mark chapter 8, verses 22-26, Jesus heals a blind man… differently than He usually does. Normally, He went about His healing in a way that was pretty straight forward; oftentimes, without even touching the person in question. But watch how he deal with this particular blind man.
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
Why a two-step healing? First of all, it needs to be noted that the Lord made a point of not healing people the same way every time. In fact, in the gospels, it seems that He heals blindness so often that He tries to cure each one a different way. Sometimes He touched the eyes; sometimes, He had the blind man wash in a particular pool; occasionally, He simply blessed the person and their sight was returned.
In fact, the reason for the many methods of healing is simple: Christ made a point of making sure that it wasn’t the means that was important, but the Man – more precisely, the God – which causes the healing.
But in Mark 8, something different happens. As if He knew the first attempt wasn’t wholly successful, Jesus asked the blind man what he could see. (People who look like walking trees.) So He makes a second stab at it, and the healing is fully successful. Happy ending.
Wait! What just happened? Did Christ not know whether He succeeded at what He was trying to do? That doesn’t sound very “God-like”!
Or was He testing the man, checking his honesty or something? (Which would beg the question, why?) Or, perhaps, his blindness was so severe – or entangled with other issues within his brain – that the safest method of healing was to do so in such a way that there was a short period of adjustment for his brain.
I have another suggestion, and it comes from personal experience. When I was saved, which is a fascinating story in itself, I was rewarded the next morning with a present: a partial healing. The pain and fatigue didn’t disappear, but they regressed (by my estimation at the time) by about 12-18 months or so – that is, they improved back to the point they had been about that long beforehand.
I wasn’t cured, but I was given a reprieve by the Lord. It seemed as though it was a token of God’s faith in me or something. My disease continued to progress: I don’t know that the pace of deterioration changed one iota. But I interpreted it as an example of what God’s power could do.
That begged the question, though: why didn’t He cure me instead? For that matter, why did He take two passes to cure the man in the book of Mark?
What I can say with certainty is that (at least one of) the reason Christ used a two-part healing in the Gospel was to reassure those of us who are only partially helped that indeed, it’s still worthwhile to pray to God for the completion of our healing. By Biblical example, we know that He may still “finish the job”.
I have asked the Lord through prayer several times whether He would “drop the other shoe”, whether He would finish my healing at some point. My “reset” was over six years ago; since then, I’ve “progressed” far beyond where I was before that. My pain now requires 200 mg of morphine a day, 2400 mg of gabapentin, and about 60 mg of oxycodone to keep it down to what the pain scale calls a four or a five most of the time. (And still, there are breakthroughs that make me scream.) My fatigue has forced me out of the easiest job imaginable because I couldn’t even sit at a desk for a seven-hour day anymore, regardless of accommodations.
I have people who love me who have prayed for me consistently, prayed for my complete recovery. I have asked Him myself, and I get a very consistent answer:
“No. You need a leash, or you will stray back into thinking you can run your life the way you want to. This is how I keep you on the path I need you on.”
Is He right? Well, by definition, yes. He is. I would love to argue with Him about this, but in my guts I know that when I think I have excess strength, I’ll go my own way and do things I probably shouldn’t do – overwork myself, for example, or take on secular projects that take me away from His Work.
So, until He thinks I’m “safely on His side of the river” (I’ll reprint my essay on “Spiritual Korea” later today so you’ll get that reference), I’m stuck sitting in my physical squalor. There IS a second step to my cure. But it’s not time for me to receive it yet.
Apparently, there was no need to delay the second step of the blind man’s cure in Mark 8. Or, perhaps, there WAS a delay that Mark left out, writing at a temporal distance.
So, if you’re waiting for a cure for your illness? Perhaps there’s a reason God hasn’t finished the cure yet – or even started it yet. Is there a reason He might prefer you in this condition, as He does me?
You may or may not know why, but there’s a reason for every choice God makes. And His Thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Assuming we TRUST the Lord, we have FAITH that He has a reason for doing what He does.