“Yes, the faith which comes through [Christ] has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” A few years ago, a paramedic sustained severe spinal injuries while caring for a patient being transported by ambulance. When the ambulance was forced off the road by a dump truck, he was thrown violently around inside the vehicle. During the yearlong battle that followed, his faith, hope, and love as an Orthodox Christian illumined all around him: fellow parishioners, professional colleagues, hospital workers, and many others.
Despite many prayers, this servant of God did not survive his injuries. However, the Lord He loved and trusted gave him a more “perfect soundness.” Like the account of the lame man in today’s epistle, his experience challenges us to consider the very highest form of healing.
Drawing from both stories, we may note three signs of perfect soundness. First, we must hold firmly to apostolic truth. Second, we are to draw strength from God in weakness. Lastly, we must believe steadfastly in the name of Jesus Christ.
When the lame beggar is healed, two reactions occur instantaneously. As “the lame man . . . held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed” (vs. 11). The beggar is cured of serious physical disability, but more importantly, his heart is healed.
We read in verses 1-8 how the lame man springs to his feet and enters the Temple with the apostles, “walking, leaping, and praising God” (vs. 8). Now, this sequel passage adds that he “held on” to Peter and John. Touched by the power of the name of the Lord Jesus, he clings fiercely to the apostles from whom he has gained knowledge of the highest, most perfect healing.
The same was true of the injured paramedic: even as his bodily strength drained away, he held firmly to the apostolic truth. As a result, a life-giving message radiated from him to everyone he met, for we are always drawn to those whose lives are filled with truth.
At various points during the paramedic’s battle for life, his physical condition declined to the point that no one expected him to make it. Yet time after time he rallied, and sometimes even progressed. At one point he even left acute care, moved into rehabilitation, and from there was admitted to a small hospital in his home town.
During his ordeal, he displayed remarkable inner strength and a mighty resolve to recover, inspired by a determination to provide for his wife and three children. In his spiritual fortitude, he was much like the lame man in today’s account from Acts. Everyone knew that Christ Jesus was the source of his strength.
God gave both the paramedic and the lame man at the Temple gate unwavering faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Peter emphasizes that the lame man’s healing comes from the Lord: “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong” (vs. 16).
The name of the Lord represents His sovereign power and authority. Our Lord has the capacity to pour His strength into our weakness, to make us strong in heart, soul, and even body: “Make firm myknees, and my bones likewise” (post-communion prayer of Saint Simeon the Translator).
However, as Saint Peter points out, we must bow down to the dominion of God with corresponding trust (vs. 16). God is seeking to heal us – let us never let Him go! When we pray for healing in the name of Christ, we are assured of receiving His perfect soundness.
O Christ my God, strengthen my weak soul and body and heal me by Thy grace.