God has a great sense of humor. I am allergic to everything He created except those things intended for high calorie food intake. A number of years ago I bought a large bottle of anointing oil for our church, the scented kind. I really like the affect of the lingering smell of frankincense, sandalwood, and other aromas intended to remind the anointed person of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. The only problem is that I’m allergic to something in the oil. Whenever I anoint somebody I get watery eyes and the sniffles.
During those times I often think of a visit to a nursing home in 1972. Ken Andrews was my pastor at the Trussville Church of God on the north side of Birmingham, Alabama. We did visitation together every week. We focused on knocking on doors and personal evangelism. Occasionally we did other visits. On this occasion we stopped to see a young man who had been paralyzed from the neck down in an accident. (He had slipped on a wet porch on a rainy day and broke his neck.) Ken asked him if we could pray for him.
He responded "You can pray for me if you will take your glasses off, throw them on the floor and step on them." He explained that he didn't need anyone praying for his healing who didn't have enough faith for their own. You can see the young man's point.
I pray for people to be healed using anointing oil to which I am allergic. It is a little humorous. Their healing makes me sick -- that didn't sound right, did it. But God works that way. He often uses the broken to minister healing to others. I have seen it many times. I have experienced it in many different forms.
God's humor use to surface in hospital visits. Ministers frequent hospitals. God called me to be a minister. For many years I would get nauseous each time I entered a hospital. I concluded I was allergic to the cleaning chemical smell that was so prevalent. But I discovered it was something else. Around 1986 or 87 I visited a church member who was critically ill with a neurological problem. She was parallelized and on a respirator. I was standing between her and the window when I became severely nauseous and faint. The room swirled around me and I braced myself on the windowsill. With sheer willpower I mustered my energies, prayed a pastoral prayer and rushed out of the building. Within a few minutes I felt fine.
I had never had such a visceral response in a hospital and so I pondered and prayed over it. Reflecting back over the visit I suddenly had a flashback to another hospital and another time. In 1967 my mother was in the Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida for tests. Her room overlooked the St. Johns River and while I was visiting her I sat on the window seat. At one point I looked over my shoulder at the river many stories below and I got dizzy. As I remembered that event I quickly connected the dots of all the times my mother was in the hospital, critically ill and all the other times she suffered at home. My problem with hospital visits wasn’t allergies; it was psychosomatic. I was reliving the trauma of growing up with a chronically ill mother.
That insight brought healing and freed me from nervous reactions on hospital visits, at least most of the time. Perhaps God’s sense of humor is best understood as an expression of his grace. He puts us in situations that just don't make sense at least until he helps us connect the dots. Then we better understand that all things do work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That might just be the moment He laughs the hardest, the laughter of joy.
April 22, 2010