On Monday, as she and I consoled and challenged each other in the wake of last week’s horrors, a friend drew my attention to a July 9 CNN headline: “Who Can Heal America?” In that article, author Stephen Collinson considers, one by one, the House Speaker, presidential candidates, President Obama, other elected and self-appointed leaders, but finds them all wanting as healers: “Yet despite all the calls for unity, the prayers offered and the platitudes voiced, there are few signs yet that any candidate, lawmaker, law enforcement leader, or civil rights campaigner has mustered the trust and respect of voters needed to knit a mournful nation together.” In the end he concludes that “leadership may come from lower down the political scale” and quotes the Deputy Chief of Dallas Police, “Let’s be human beings. Let’s be honorable men and women and sit down at a table and say, ‘How can we not let this happen again?'”
As a called and ordained leader in the Church, I know that I am not the healer, but I submit that Collinson, like many others, is misdirecting his gaze. Healing is not a horizontal operation. Healing comes only from above. In 2 Chronicles (of the Jewish Scriptures and Old Testament), God offers this balm: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Now I am not naive in my reading. I know to whom and on what occasion this promise was made. God is speaking to King Solomon after the building of God’s great temple–Solomon who asked for and received from God the matchless gift of wisdom. I do not assume that all promises cited in the Scriptures apply to all people in all situations. But I do hear wisdom and the promise of divine healing in these words. So I renew my commitment to the four conditions God sets for the healing of this land: Humbling myself, praying, seeking God’s face, and resisting temptations to evil. This is not a formula nor an incantation. This is merely taking God at his word. No assembly or effort of human beings will bring about healing. Only God can answer the question.