Family Liturgies

Accepting God’s Healing


Nolan with Rebecca’s daughter.

Scripture reading: John 5:1-9


Biblical healing stories are tricky business in our family right now. Our 6 year old friend Nolan recently died of brain cancer and our family felt crushed. We had prayed, cried, even begged to God for his life. But his healing came in the form of death, which to my young daughters didn’t quite look like the healing they were hoping for. “Why Lazarus,” they asked, “but not Nolan?” “Why that girl in the Bible, but not our friend?”

As we’ve talked about this over the last month, we have learned that:

  •  we are all broken, in need of healing
  • in our brokenness, God can reach out to us in new ways

We entered the dark by walking alongside of Nolan’s family during this painful time. Since his death, healing for them has come in small ways: a meal brought to their door, a thoughtful gift, a community fundraiser for brain cancer, friends and family gathering to plant trees and send off small paper lanterns to celebrate Nolan’s first birthday in heaven.

Allowing this experience to crack us open made us vulnerable, but also open to newness.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (Leonard Cohen)

My sister-in-law, a stained glass artist, showed me this. She takes beautiful sheets of glass and breaks them – so hard to do – to make new combinations of colour that let in layers of light.

But as I place myself in this story from John, I wonder how I would have responded to Jesus’ question. Do I want to be made well? Am I ready to accept God’s healing?

Something to ponder:

  • Imagine being ill for 38 years and having the courage to ask for help.
  • What makes you feel broken?
  • What helps you to heal?
  • How can we offer healing to others?


We are all in need of healing in various ways. One might be suffering a physical ailment or illness. Another might need healing for a negative view of his character or his body. And another might have heard something hurtful on the playground at school, and she just needs to hear a reassuring word.

Using a permanent marker, write “healing” on a plastic bandage. Make enough for everyone in your group. At a mealtime, go around the table and place a bandage on the person beside you, offering words of healing and hope to bless that person. If you know of a worry or concern in that person’s life, the words could relate directly to that concern. You could also offer general words of healing by offering the following phrase: Your faith has made you well.

Take turns placing a hand on each other’s forehead and say the following blessing based on Psalm 67:1.

May God bless you and make his face to shine upon you. Amen.

–Rebecca Seiling has written more about grieving Nolan’s death on her blog.



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