Your healing will come.

But Jesus shares his authority

Mark 6:7, 12-13 Jesus called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits [and to heal all diseases, Luke 9:1]. … So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.

I’m skipping ahead in Mark today, because of something that happened last night. We had an evening without other commitments, and Dave suggested we watch the second episode of the new Season 3 of The Chosen (we haven’t managed to accompany the episodes as they’ve been released). The episode is called “Two by Two.” It dramatizes this passage in Mark, Luke 9, and Matthew 13.

After Jesus gives his instructions to the disciples and is walking away, the “other James” follows Jesus and asks for a conversation. In Mark 15:40, this James is referred to by a word that means least, less, little, small. English versions translate this variously as James the young, the younger, the youngest, the less, the lesser, the little. In The Chosen, he is called Little James, and James the brother of John is called Big James. Additionally, Little James is cast in The Chosen as a man with a lame leg.

As I listened to the conversation between Jesus and Little James, I had goosebumps. I watched with my mouth open. Because the conversation could have been lifted straight from the pages of Karis’s journals. Clearly the script was written by someone who has been there, who has asked God the question, “Why haven’t you healed me? How can I heal others like—like this?” Jesus’s response is exactly what Karis records God saying to her, multiple times from her adolescence on.

To understand more deeply the impact of this for me, it may be helpful to know that all her life, since being born with a severe intestinal anomaly, Karis, Dave and I, and our family have been challenged by Christians who believe God only doesn’t heal because of sin and/or lack of faith. Therefore, Dave and I, and later Karis as she grew up, were exhorted again and again to confess the sin for which she/we were being punished, to confess our lack of faith, and to live our lives out of the belief she had been healed (i.e., stop seeking medical help for her, especially when her life was at risk, as “proof” of our faith). Make her get out of bed. Make her see this illness is not real; what is real is the health God promises every believer.

All of this is one of the main reasons Karis cites in her journals for wanting her story written down. She wanted believers to understand the deeper grace God offers when he chooses not to heal someone physically. “If God heals me—gives me a brand-new intestine—that story will make a big splash,” she wrote. “For a little while, many people will be excited. But quickly it will become old news. Instead, for as many days or years God gives me, I want to show people a different kind of grace—the grace that allows me to praise God even through my pain. The doors that open for me exactly because I am disabled. The compassion God has given me for all who suffer, with any kind of pain, whether physical, emotional, social, or mental. The joy greater than my circumstances that wells up from the Spirit inside me. That’s what I want people to see when they look at my life: not a ‘big splash,’ but the daily faithfulness of God, available to everyone, everywhere, in any condition of life.”

Karis’s journals, from age 9 until the week before her last coma, age 30

So, imagine how intrigued I was to hear Jesus’s words to Little James on the screen last night. You’ll find the conversation at 53:12-59:44 on Episode 2 of The Chosen Season 3, called “Two by Two.” I’ve transcribed it, but will wait until the next post to quote part of the conversation for you. I hope meanwhile you’ll take the time to watch it.

In fact, God did perform miracles in Karis’s life. Huge miracles that restored her again and again when the doctors told us (again) that this time there was no hope, from infancy on. But never “the big miracle,” the big splash. Her story is both bigger and deeper than that, to the glory of God.

At the end of the conversation, Jesus starts to walk away. Then he turns back and says to Little James, “Your healing will come. It’s just a matter of time.”

That is true for every one of us.

Turn toward, not away

But Jesus predicts hardship

Matthew 24:7-14, 20, 25 Nation will go to war against nation … There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. … See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

One reason Karis cites in her journals for wanting her story told is the prevalence in some places of a “health and wealth gospel,” the idea that if you have “enough” faith, God will make you prosperous and free of suffering. A message Jesus neither modeled nor taught. Karis reacted passionately against the implied judgment of this belief on many of her friends who were neither healthy nor wealthy but lived their lives of hardship in deep faith and joy in God’s love for them, measured not in gifts of the world but in gifts of the heart.

Karis’s journals, written over twenty years in her tiny script

One time when Karis was hospitalized as a teenager, suffering from uncontrollable diarrhea and dehydration that led to several months on TPN (nutrition through her blood stream), “chained,” as she said, to an IV pump, a woman we didn’t know showed up in her hospital room. The woman told me she had crossed Brazil by bus to deliver a message from God to Karis. She then turned to Karis, who was too weak at the time to stand, and demanded she confess her sins of unbelief, get out of that bed, and live the triumphant life of faith. “You are a disgrace to the Gospel and to God,” she shouted at Karis. “Shame on you! Shame on your family, pretending to be ministers of the Lord. Look at you, wasting resources on hospitals and machines and medicines. Unbelievers! This money should go to the churches!”

She walked over to Karis and yanked her arm. “Down on your knees now, you hypocritical sinner! Confess your unbelief! Then stand up and walk and end this charade!”

By then, of course, I was loosening the woman’s grip on Karis and escorting her to the door. “I have been obedient! I have delivered God’s message! The rest is up to you!” She was still shouting as I closed the door and ran to Karis, who heaved with sobs.

Later, when she was stronger, Karis spoke to me about the woman’s visit, with an intensity I had not seen in her before. “Mama,” she said, “that woman blasphemed my Lord. I can’t bear it.” She began crying again. “It’s not what she said about me—I can handle that. I know I need to grow in faith, especially in faith to trust him when I’m weak and in pain. It’s what she said about who God is, as if he hasn’t walked with me and loved me and comforted me and provided for me with such gentle tenderness all my life. As if his words to me every day—words of love and encouragement—are not true. That hurt me to my core. Mama, please don’t let such a thing happen again. I can’t bear it. It’s like a sword piercing my heart.”

Then her smile broke out. “Maybe that woman doesn’t know about the thousands of people praying for me around the world. They can’t all be as deficient in faith as us, right?” She giggled. “Well, I’m in cahoots with God. From now on, I’m going to pray for God to heal whatever has wounded her. I’m going to pray she can know how extravagantly her Father loves her.”

Perhaps in Heaven Karis has been privileged to know the result of her prayers for this woman whose name we never learned. Lord, if she’s still alive, please care for her.

Reading Matthew 24—which sounds all too sadly familiar, doesn’t it?—this is what caught my attention. “Many will turn away from me … and the love of many will grow cold.”

Love God and love each other (John 13:34-35). Isn’t that Jesus’ central message? A direct contrast to “betray and hate each other.”

When we turn toward Jesus, our love for him and for people grows. When we turn away from Jesus, the natural consequence is hatred and slander.

Let’s turn toward Jesus. Whatever the circumstances of our lives.