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Inner healing: Peter’s ‘charcoal fire’


Credit: Vincent Maurin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Vincent Maurin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you ever had a sports injury that put a stop to your active life? Sometimes once the medical treatments have been done and we have a clean bill of health to continue our sport, the fear of not really being healed or of re-injury can cause us to freeze in our tracks. It started with a real physical injury, but the real problem has become an inner one, a fear of moving forward, an “infirmity.”

We can look healthy on the outside, but inside be broken with fear, doubts, anger, insecurities, etc.

The gospels use similar phrases to describe how Jesus ministered in different communities, phrases like, “healed the sick,” “forgave sins,” “cast out demons,” “preached the good news,” and “healed people of their infirmities.” Most Christians can easily define the first four phrases, but many are not sure exactly what an infirmity is.

Matthew 8:17 says, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Other references to infirmities can be found in Romans 8:26-27, Luke 5:15, and Hebrews 4:15.

Some translations use the word “infirmities” while others use the word “weaknesses.” The Greek word for infirmities is the word “asheniah.” It means feebleness of body or mind, by implication, malady, frailty, disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.

In his seminal work on this topic, Healing for Damaged Emotions, (Victor Books, 1991, p. 11) David Seamands says:

“Somewhere between our sins, on the one hand, and our sicknesses, on the other, lies an area the scripture calls ‘infirmities.’”

At times what may stop a great man or woman from accomplishing their dreams may be a small voice from their childhood telling them they are a loser, a zero, or just stupid – infirmities.

Often when Jesus would heal someone, He required a physical or verbal response. Jesus would give them a kind of test to prove their healing – “pick up your bed and walk.” Now if you had been bed-ridden your whole life and unable to walk, Jesus telling you not only to walk, but to carry that which previously had carried you would have been a test to solidify your healing. I believe Jesus also does this with our infirmities. I believe He takes us back to our place of failure or wounding and allows us to “cut a new groove in our record.”

My favorite example from Scripture is that of Peter in John 18:17-27 and John 21: 9-17. In John 18 is the account of Peter denying Jesus three times. This was probably the lowest point in Peter’s life.

I believe Peter, like any of us, could have been emotionally damaged for the rest of his life. Hearing a rooster crow, or seeing three of anything, could have triggered fear and depression, rendering him unable to be used in God’s kingdom. When Jesus freed Peter of this failure, He used some of the same elements to cut a new groove in a broken life.

Only twice in all of Scripture do you find the term “charcoal fire” in the original language. Once was when Peter denied Jesus three times – he was warming himself around a charcoal fire. The second time was in John 21 when Jesus made a charcoal fire on the beach, and made breakfast for the disciples.

So they ate breakfast around a charcoal fire, and then Jesus asks Peter not once, but three times, “Do you love me?”

Can you grasp the power of this scene as Peter was grieved when he answered Him the third time, and Jesus gazed into his eyes with only power and love. Three roosters dancing on coals would not have bothered Peter after that. He was set free from his infirmity, his moral failure.

This article is not a thesis on inner healing; I started with the above explanation only as a backdrop to what happened to me at a senior camp this past summer. I grew up with some infirmities, baggage from my childhood, including damage through family, school experiences, even child psychiatrists.

My healing came in the 90’s during the “Toronto blessing.” God did something unexpected and amazing – it was like He pulled up 40 years of darkness out of my soul.

Continued: Inner healing: My story of three pelicans

More in this series:

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