I know so many of you can relate. You’ve been suffering, ill, or going through what seems to be an unending trial.
James 5:13-18 reads,
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
I have a confession. Are you ready? It’s not pretty. It may shock some of you and you might never think of me the same way again. That’s okay. God already forgave me, and He never changed his mind about loving me.
Here it is:
As I said, I’ve been sick for a very long time. Every time over the past couple of years, I have gotten a glimmer of hope, and thought something was going to be the thing to fix me, it turned out not to be it. This past year I think it has gotten worse than I can ever remember it being. I have gotten so sick so often that I have been incapacitated and canceled more street ministry opportunities (Bringing Life to the Streets) than led them. I’ve spent most of the last two months in bed and 22 of those days in the hospital, desperately clinging to the hope I would finally be healed. I lost more than 20 pounds in the last three months, spending the last month trying to regain a couple of them. This month has been incredibly difficult. I even wrote out my funeral instructions, I fully expected to die. Then my beautiful loving friend, a little boy in the first grade prayed for me. He said, “Don’t let anything happen to her, make her better ”and I knew I couldn’t roll over and die. I had to keep going. But that isn’t what I did.
I gave up hope somewhere in July. I was devastated when I was not healed. But after a short pity party, I rose up again and kept the faith. But then in my last two days in the hospital some terrible things happened and I lost it! I lost my faith, my persistence, my contentment, my peace, everything. I was incredibly angry with God. I cried out to Him, “Why?! Why haven’t you healed me? You said you would, but you haven’t and I cannot take it anymore!”
I want you to understand, I have conversations with God, real Him talking and responding conversations. I hope you don’t think I’m nuts and I hope it’s because you experience dialogues like that with Him too. Anyway after one of my meltdowns when I was crying and whining, I looked out the window of my hospital room and there was this rainbow, not a big one, one of those widespread little ones you might miss if you aren’t looking. I am a huge fan of rainbows. You do not want to be on the road with me driving in the rain, because I am so busy looking for rainbows I may miss the stop sign. God was saying, “I promised to heal you and I will keep my word.”
Do you know how I answered my Father who loves me so personally? I said, “I don’t believe you anymore! It’s been too long. We are in the second decade of this now, I don’t believe you!” I looked out the window and the rainbow was gone. But, almost immediately I got a text from a very good friend, one of the many people who have reached out to comfort me, support me, be with me, and pray for me. This text was an amazing picture of a double rainbow sent to her by a friend April Holladnder. It was more than brilliant and more than beautiful, it was astonishing and gorgeous. I’d never seen anything so perfect before.
Isn’t God great? How would you react to have Him interact with you in such a personal, profound and exquisite way? I’ll tell you how I answered. I used an expletive and told Him, I was tired of waiting and no longer believed Him. My God reached out to me to hug me and hold me. But I so desperately needed Him, yet in my obstinate anger I shirked His embrace.
I got no better later that day or the next day. But people prayed for me. I kept talking to God. I kept telling Him how angry I was and I kept listening to Him. I sought counsel from a couple of people who do not attend my church but whom I trust very much and have no doubt about the veracity and ferocity of their faith. I listened to a ton of worship music. But I couldn’t pray other than my whiny Verruca Salt conversations with my Daddy in Heaven. But darn it! He wouldn’t whack me like I deserved and He kept loving me. Not only that but He had people text me and ask for prayer! I was too angry, I couldn’t pray! But here was my best friend for more than thirty years asking for prayer. I couldn’t say no, so I did. You see God also knows I love to serve Him! I love to pray for people. I love to encourage people. I love to love people. I hate to see people hurting. And people kept asking for prayer and I kept saying yes. I did it again and again. What? I was praying! And I was praying sincerely and in faith.
So I cried out to God again, and I asked Him to forgive me, no longer Verruca Salt but now humble and so sorry. I repented from my grumbling doubting rebellion and I am here today asking you to hear me and forgive me too. I am so sorry for the way I behaved. I was obnoxious and downright bratty. Please forgive me, pray for me, and let me pray for you as well.
I have given up on medicine. I wonder if that’s where God has been trying to take me. I am putting all my stuff in God’s hands and trusting Him to heal me, either now or in eternity, I’ll leave it to Him. Am I still sick? Yes. I am weak. But God’s grace will be enough. His strength, His glory will shine even more clearly as He uses me sick or He will be glorified when He heals me and uses me even more! (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
So I want to encourage you to keep seeking God’s power. Invite His Spirit and power to overwhelm you, His presence to be thick and apparent. Let’ pray for miracles. Let’s tell mountains to move! Let’s invite God to love on us the way He wants to love on us! Let’s expect miracles, shifted obstacles, and the love of God so thick in here that not a single one of us is unchanged!