When the thorn remains.
A few weeks ago, a pastor of another church visited mine and led a special service. It was for the purpose of healing- spiritually, physically, emotionally or whatever. I wound up last in line for prayer. To my surprise, Guest Rector not only laid hands on me but while praying, began speaking in tongues. Of course I know the Charismatic Movement had spread to even the frigid Episcopalians decades ago. It still threw me for a bit of a loop to see a man dressed in fancy schmancy robes and even that little cap bust out like my Pentecostal grandma.
Before he began his prayer, he asked for my request. I told him, and he prayed earnestly. After the “amen”, he asked me if I felt any differences. He looked at me straight in the eyes, warmly and full of hope.
“Uhh, well, no. Thank you so very much for your prayers,” I stammered quietly, and then asked him to pray for my sister, who’s been dealing with a lot lately. He immediately did, and I returned to my seat in the pew next to my pastor’s wife.
I felt sorry for Guest Rector, and I’ve felt sorry for a number of other awesome, Godly, loving people who have prayed for me over the years. They believe in complete healing. They’ve held my hands, cried, and rubbed little oil crosses on my forehead. They’ve spoken Psalm 91 over my life repeatedly. They’ve given me books, highlighted verses and burned CDs of encouraging worship music.
Yet, here I am, unhealed.
My chronic illness seems to make some uncomfortable. It reminds me of my bad knee I injured back in college, long before any of this CIDP mess. I was in a prayer group, and they set about my healing with gusto one Sunday evening. They wound up creeping me out. After putting me in a chair in the center of a circle (which set me right in the spotlight, something I don’t like), they took turns praying. It might’ve gone on fifteen minutes but it felt like forever.
What creeped me out wasn’t the excited prayer. Again, I’m use to that. Nah, it was the immediate questioning afterwards.
“You do feel better, right?”
“You claim your healing NOW. If you don’t, the devil will steal it! Do you understand?” (Funny, I never read of any of the miracles performed in the Bible coming with possible expiration dates.)
“You can feel heat in your knee right?” (I felt heat all over! It was blazing in there!)
“Thank the Lord for your healing!” (Not a question, but a demand that would’ve been a lie because I hadn’t been healed.)
When I wasn’t healed, some speculated on my faith and commitment levels. Others thought another prayer circle should be gathered. Some were just plain old confused.
Such an uncomfortable truth. Sometimes, many times, God doesn’t heal. Paul prayed repeatedly for his thorn to be removed.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I know of some Christians who so believe in “the power of the tongue”, they refuse to admit even when they are sick. Naming it is claiming it. I’m not sure what their response to that bit of passage above is. I do know I refuse to fake a healing in some sort of misguided belief that will make it happen.
I have been told somewhat on the sly that I have wrapped my identity around this illness. That hurts.But it IS part of my life, just as I’m a woman, Black, a mom and wife, a Christian.
There is no testimony without a test.
Some have quizes. Others, we have the SAT, ACT, LSAT and MCAT, all rolled into one.
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