Book Review: Healing is a Choice

HealingchoiceThere was a man who lay by the side of the pool of Betheda. When Jesus saw him he asked the man, “Do you want to be well.” His story is recorded in John 5.

The implication of the story is healing is a choice. Steve Arterburn, best known as a coauthor of theEveryman series (Everyman’s Battle and spin-offs), takes the position that healing is available to everyone who chooses it. Of course he casts this broader than physical healing. He speaks primarily of emotional healing.

In 11 chapters, Arterburn explores 10 choices we need to make if we are to experience the healing that comes from Christ. These Choices are as follows (these are also chapter titles):

1. The Choice to Connect your life
2. The Choice to Feel your life
3. The Choice to Investigate Your Life in Search of Truth
4. The Choice to Heal Your Future
5. The Choice to Help Your Life
6. The Choice to Embrace Your Life
7. The Choice to Forgive
8. The Choice to Risk Your Life
9. The Choice to Serve
10. The Choice to Preserve

In these pages Arterburn unpacks these individual choices, asks workbook questions which help you to process personal issues related to each choice and articulates 10 lies corresponding to each choice that we tend to believe. These are:

1. All I need to heal is just God and me.
2. Real Christians should have peace in all circumstances
3. It does no good to look back or look inside
4. Time Heals all wounds
5. I can figure this out myself
6. If I just act like there is no problem it will go away
7. Forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it
8. I must protect myself from anymore pain
9. Until I am completely healed and strong, there is no place for me to serve God.
10. There is no hope for me.

As you can guess from the chapter headings and ‘big lies’ Arterburn has his finger on the pulse of many of the things that keep us from experiencing Christ’s healing in fullness. Each chapter is packed full of anecdotes and he is eager to help you make the choice which will allow God’s grace to pour into your life more fully. As someone called to pastoral ministry I can appreciate some of his insights and diagnostic tools.

Perhaps the only reason that I am rating this as a middle of the road sort of book is that my own need for personal healing, though obviously there because I am as wounded as anyone, is not felt by me particularly acutely at the moment. This made the workbook questions hit or miss for me, though I can see how it would be helpful to someone

But I am also suspicious of the self help genre in general, even and especially the Christian self help genre. The man who lay by the pool of Bethesda answered Jesus, ” Sir I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. When I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me. (John 5:8)” As in the case of this lame man, there are sociological factors that mitigate against healing. I am not saying that Arterburn is unaware of these, I just think that healing is experienced as a gift which often is bigger than our choosing. When we lay on the ground unable to help ourselves and realize we are at the end of ourselves, this is when Christ breaks in and offers grace and healing in fresh ways.

That being said, I saw little in this book that I would take issue with on theological grounds. I would recommend it for those who find themselves in a crisis and yearn for a fresh touch from God to come and heal them. This book shouldn’t replace a trusted mentor and spiritual friend but could be helpfully utilized by one as they journey towards healing with you.

I recieved a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson via in exchange for this fair and honest review.

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I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

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