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Is Unforgiveness Holding Back Your Healing?

By Ryan Smith  

For fourteen years Amanda Howe had endured constant pain in her back. A tragic result of an epidural procedure made simple acts such as bending over or putting on clothes agonizing for her.

One Sunday morning Amanda, who does not live in our area, visited our church, Mountain Valley Chapel in Gold Bar, Washington. At the end of my message I felt the Lord leading me to pray for healing, specifically for back issues. A few hands went up for prayer, so we had people gather around those folks and pray. I asked if anyone had been healed. Praise the Lord, one young man raised his hand!  

Amanda Howe

As I continued to scan the congregation, the Lord “highlighted” Amanda in my mind. I asked her if she was still in pain. She indicated she was, so we prayed again. Nothing happened; however, God was not finished.  

I asked Amanda a few more questions and she detailed her experience with the epidural. The Lord prompted me to ask her if she had forgiven the doctors who performed the procedure. This is not a question I would normally ask in front of an entire congregation, but I could tell the Lord was leading me. Amanda acknowledged she had not, so I asked her if she wanted to forgive the doctors for any actions she felt had cause her harm. Right there, with everyone watching, we prayed a prayer of forgiveness. As soon as we were done praying, Amanda knew something was different. She knew she had her healing. I thought this was the end of the story. It wasn’t. Nearly a year later, Amanda, who is an assistant teacher at Everett Community College, stopped by our church to tell my wife and me the rest of the story.  

Amanda had left church that day knowing she was mostly healed although she still experienced some pain. As she continued to pray for healing, the Lord brought to Amanda’s mind other people in her life she needed to forgive as well. As Amanda forgave, the Lord healed her back pain completely. God did an amazing physical healing in Amanda’s body as well as a deep healing in her heart! 

I continually marvel at the awesomeness of God. He can take a simple word of knowledge, as He did with Amanda about forgiving doctors, and turn it into a life-changing event! Amanda’s story and her obedience remind me of the importance of Paul’s instructions concerning communion in 1 Corinthians:

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

1 Corinthians 11:28-30 (NKJV)

Just as the Lord wanted to reveal to Amanda some issues she needed to deal with, He wants to reveal issues to us as well. He asks us to examine ourselves when we take communion. But just as we would not want to perform a full physical examination of our own bodies without a doctor’s direction, communion is an opportunity to invite the Great Physician to conduct an examination of our spiritual lives. This type of examination is meant to lead us to the cross where repentance, forgiveness, healing, freedom, and wholeness are found. Many in the group Paul was addressing were not receiving all that Christ made available at the cross. Their lack of self-examination was the reason, as Paul says in verse 30, that many were “weak and sick.” 

Jesus’ death and resurrection not only bought us eternal life, they also bought us access to His healing AND to His heart. We can “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) because of what Christ did on the cross. I can forgive because of what communion represents. This is all part of the value of His sacrifice available to us who believe.  

In 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul says that communion is a declaration. It is a proclamation. It is a sermon about the power of the cross. When we take communion in a worthy manner, we are declaring that we are open to receive all the cross has made available and are receiving the full worth His sacrifice paid for. 

Amanda experienced this firsthand when she received forgiveness and the power to forgive available in Jesus. She was then able to receive His healing. This revelation has transformed Amanda’s life, and she is excited to share with others the power of forgiveness.  

As a minister, I’ve come to see unforgiveness as possibly the single greatest hindrance that keeps people from receiving the fullness Jesus offers. Forgiveness is hard, but we are not expected to accomplish it alone. Jesus forgave us our sin. When we forgive, we reflect the nature of God and create an access point for ourselves and others to receive the full worth of His sacrifice. Communion is not only a reminder of this; it’s our declaration!

To learn how forgiving can improve your health, check out Julie Cole’s latest article.

About the Author


Ryan Smith, a third generation Open Bible minister, is the lead pastor of Mountain Valley Chapel in Gold Bar, Washington. He has been happily married to his wife, Danielle, for nearly 19 years. The Smiths have four children, ages 3-14. 

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