A week ago I wrote about a book that had been given to me by a trusted pastoral — How Can I Ask God for Healing? When I left you, I was headed to that pastor’s house to return the book. I read all the way there and still had about 100 pages to go when we walked into his house. I handed the book to him and said, “I want to return this to you; you can see by the book mark how far I made it.” He said I could keep it longer to finish it. I replied, “Doesn’t somebody else need it?” He said, “I only loan this copy out to special people; I would really like you to finish it.”
Well, what do you say so an octogenarian pastor whose speciality is prayer? Do you tell him, “No thanks, I’m good.” And, to be honest, by that time, I had kind of become attached to the book, I did want to read the ‘rest of the story’. So, I thanked him and brought the book back home.
While we were in his presence, he pulled me aside and shared several stories of how prayer had changed the lives of people he had been working with. He wasn’t trying to build his argument; he was simply sharing his awe at the power of God. I was reminded of his rich history in ministry and of the authority he has in terms of spiritual things.
This week I finished the book. This morning I turned back to the introduction and started reading again.
(Note to my children and any former students, this is a prime example of my favorite saying, “Anybody can change.”)
Here is the journey so far:
I have an autoimmune disease — or at least something that looks like one. For the last three years I have struggled with extreme fatigue, psoriasis, joint pain, inflammation, and eye irritation. These symptoms limit my life and have caused us to make major life adjustments — change in careers, relocation to a much smaller home, significant financial decisions, and numerous lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, social life, etc.
Some positive things have come from this situation. We move much more slowly; I have experienced significant emotional and spiritual healing; I have been freed to write again, which brings so much value to my life. We have praised God in this disease for the ways He has used it to alter some patterns that have needed to be altered for years.
But the truth remains, I do have a disease. Why wouldn’t I ask God for healing? Let me clarify by saying that I have prayed for healing. It is a regular prayer of mine that God would heal my body, mind, and spirit. In fact, shortly after my symptoms started, we gathered many trusted members of our faith community to pray over me. As I look back and remember all those hands on me and tears rolling down my cheeks, I picture myself hoping God would heal me, but actually feeling that these prayers were step one in accepting the fact that things were going to be different from now on.
Let me further clarify by saying that my husband is a faithful man of prayer; I doubt that a day has gone by in the last three years that he has not asked for my complete healing. He, and our pastor friend, and probably my mother.
Me, I regularly pray that God would heal my body, mind, and spirit, while at the same time accepting the fact that I am walking in a new reality. And I want to affirm that accepting reality is, by its own right, rather healthy. Acknowledging that my symptoms are real and not fabrications of my mind has been a struggle in itself. I really do have limitations even though it may not appear from the outside that I do. Saying out loud, in the presence of others, that I “can’t” do things has been a monumental step in this new chapter. Is it possible for me to know that I have a disease while at the same time praying for and believing God to heal me? I think that is the conflict of the moment.
So, as per usual, I read my Bible study this morning. Joshua and the Israelites marching around Jericho seven days in a row, because God said so, and making the walls “come a-tumbling down”. As I was reading it, a page from How Can I Ask God for Physical Healing popped onto my brain screen– it’s actually a chart, two pages long, of all the healing stories in the Bible. Shriveled hands, blindness, leprosy, paralysis, fever, death — all healed because Jesus said so.
Again, I know God can heal me, at His word. Do I trust Him enough to ask boldly and believe that He will? Or will I continue to pray, “Well, if you want to, it’d be great if you took away this disease.”
I’ll keep you posted.
And the prayer, offered in faith, will make the sick person well;
The Lord will raise them up.