God the Healer
In this week’s blog, I felt it would be beneficial to take a detour from the rituals of healing to discuss The Healer. In Exodus 15, we find that God had led the Israelites across the Red Sea. But then, he led them on a three-day journey through the desert without water. Imagine how famished, fatigued, and thirsty the people of Israel were. Imagine how their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouths.
But then, they came across a pool of water. The water was bitter, however ‒ to the point where they could not drink it. They called the place Marah, which means bitter. Interestingly enough, in the Thai language, marah is the name for bitter melon. After the people sampled the water, their souls also became bitter, and they started grumbling against God. They probably said, “Moses, did you lead us out of Egypt just to let us die of thirst in the desert? It would’ve been better for us to stay as slaves in Egypt!”
Moses then prayed to God, and God showed him a piece of wood to throw into the water. This simple act turned the water sweet and miraculously fit to drink. Then, God made a pretty astonishing statement:
“If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” (Exodus 15:26)
First, the Lord promised that none of the diseases of the Egyptians would fall upon the nation of Israel. Likely, he was referring to the ten plagues of Egypt. But then, he stated one of the Old Testament names of God ‒ “Yahweh Rapha” ‒ or the Lord, your healer. And this leads us to an important part of God’s character. God is the healer and restorer. God loves us so much and cares for us deeply ‒ setting all things right again for his people. No matter how much we rebel or become embittered against God, he seeks to restore us.
Jesus himself is the ultimate expression of Yahweh Rapha. Everywhere Jesus went, he healed people of their infirmities. He gave sight to the blind, opened the ears of deaf, made the crippled walk again, and even brought dead people back to life! He pronounced forgiveness of sins upon people, which astonished the religious leaders at the time. Even his own resurrection demonstrates the supreme healing power of God.
During this time of year, we might find ourselves in need of healing. We might face disappointment, discouragement, bitterness, resentment, or despair. No matter what we do, our lives seem to be heading in the wrong direction. During this Lenten time, we must place our lives solely in the hands of Yahweh Rapha. Our Lord has the power to heal, and indeed healing is his very nature.
Dr. Suthee Thumasathit is a Thailand native who grew up in Iowa and now practices internal medicine for Texas Health Resources. He is a leader in NorthPark's Thai Fellowship and a NorthPark Presbyterian elder.