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Shabbat Shalom. Welcome to today’s exploration of the God who heals—Jehovah Rapha.
So, I’ll start by laying out the backstory then we’ll explore healing through poetry.
The very first time we come across this attribute of God is exactly 3 days after ancient Israel left the bondage of Egypt and were en route to the freedom land God promised them. Along the way they became thirsty and the first body of water they came upon turned out to be undrinkable. They murmured against their leader, Moses, he in turn cried out to God who led him to a tree that had transforming power. A branch from that tree dropped in the water miraculously turned it from bitter and undrinkable to sweet.
Just over a week prior the people had witnessed 10 different plagues fall all over Egypt as their leader, the Pharaoh, refused to submit to the authority of God as Almighty. The Pharaoh actually deemed himself to be god. God used the miracle of the water as a teachable moment and in so doing personally introduced Himself as healer. Referencing the plight of the Egyptians, this was His assurance to ancient Israel:
If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statues, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who HEALS you.Exodus 15:26 NKJV
That assurance extends to this time and to us as well. And God knows, we sure are in need of healing.
The dictionary definition of healing is “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again”. However, God as Healer/Jehovah Rapha takes healing a lot further. The Hebraic translation of Rapha means not only to “heal” but to “restore”, “cure” or “make whole”.
Now to poetry. One of the reasons why I like poetry as a form of creative expression is the therapeutic potential poems hold to heal.
In traumatic situations for instance, or even for the hardest things to talk about, relief is found when we can find the words to articulate what is being felt. And for this articulation, poetry has often been the ‘go to’ type of expressive writing, including for me. Why? Because in the expression of my own voice through composing a poetic piece, I feel its therapeutic power including for healing if that’s what is needed at the time.
In preparing for this post, I made a discovery. In Chinese, the word poem is composed of two characters — one meaning “word” and the other “temple”. And it’s no wonder that poetry lends itself so well to healing as it is the combination of the sacred and the word.
Now, I know that the Chinese character means just that, word—an element of speech or writing, but I’d like to extend that to the Biblical reference of word:
The Word [God] became flesh and made His dwelling among us.St John 1:14
And, this proposition of God as word is not at all farfetched because we also know that God’s healing or redemptive work comes from the Greek word “poiēma” (Ephesians 2:10) from which poem is derived. [You may read more on this here👈.]
The healing attribute of God is not only for restoration and cure, but it’s also for wholeness including from the effects of sin. However, God bringing us back to wholeness does not in any way exclude any part of our history or experiences; rather, it builds on it.
The Bible likens the process of God restoring humanity to a potter restoring clayware that’s been broken.
We know that broken clayware is often discarded or if efforts are made to put it back together, the cracks will be evident and the original beauty is therefore lost. It’s now scarred. No longer fit for display. But, in the Potter’s hand a broken pot, a.k.a. a broken human, restored does not mean unmarred—our history and experiences remain but they don’t dictate our lives.
Rather, it’s like God applying the Japanese repair technique, kintsugi. He treats both our breakage and repair as part of our history and experiences, rather than something to disguise, making us His masterpiece still fit for display.
That is what God’s healing does, it makes us more beautiful for having been broken.
And now, a “temple word”/ poem:
Shabbat Shalom. I leave you with the assurance of the God who heals not only sickness and infirmity, but spiritual fatigue, mental affliction, emotional suffering, anxiety and worry. And, He’s a God who embraces your brokenness and flaws as beauty. Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.
See you next week for an exploration of Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.
In our exploration of Jehovah, the God who reveals Himself unceasingly, last week we looked at the attribute of Peace/Jehovah Shalom👈 click to read
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