Elder Oaks General Conference talk on healing has ended up as one of the talks widely used for an alternate week priesthood and relief society lesson. I almost got derailed into posting about the Book of Job and neo-Calvinism (the rich get that way because of the grace of God rewarding them for their merit, the unlucky, poor and distressed get that way because of their sins — that is the message of everyone in the Book of Job who God repudiates at the end …) but Elder Oaks talk was what I originally planned to write about.
In some classes, it appears that they teachers gloss over the talk and then launch into asking people to tell about times they were healed. Healed = faithful saints with the grace of God. Not healed = vile faithless sinners. Kind of like revisiting the neo-Calvinism of Job all over again.
On the other hand, in the class I was in we talked about the talk, how Elder Oaks pointed out that the most important thing in a blessing was the will of God, the least important part whatever words we managed to say, and then got into a discussion of folk practices in the Church and the incident where Joseph Smith began the curing of the saints afflicted by cholera. It was a dramatic event, made the more so by his return home to Emma, where she asked him merely “why could you heal all of those people, yet our children died?” Joseph responded that he could only do the will of the Lord.
Sometimes it is not a lack of faith, sometimes it is not a failure to find the right person with the right gifts to give the blessing, sometimes it is not a failure to find the right words, and it is not a matter of inherent grace. In all matters it is most importantly the will of God, with God’s love and purpose to seek our good, that is the significant factor.
Which I liked better than the way Job ends with a litany of examples of how God is powerful, Job is not, so repent and suck it up. That did not comfort me much at all.
What do you think of the book of Job (especially now that it has been analyzed almost to death by the bloggernacle) and how did Elder Oak’s talk on healing strike you? If it was taught in your stake, what about the lesson based on it went well for you, what did not and what do you think could be done to improve it?