I sat in the doctor's office in the spring of 1991, thin, pale, and weak, listening to the doctor speak the words I feared: "We've run out of options. Surgery is our last alternative."
Five years earlier, at the tender age of 13, I had been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Crohn's attacks the digestive tract, interfering with the body's ability to absorb nutrition and causing severe cramping, diarrhea, and fatigue. There is no cure for the disease, although medication often controls symptoms. In my case, the pills had little effect, and the illness melted away more than a fifth of my body weight.
Surgery, the doctor went on to explain, would require an ileostomy (a surgically created opening in the abdomen). And as a result, I'd have to wear an external pouch to collect waste materials.
I was devastated, and my hopes for marriage and intimacy were in jeopardy. Who would want a wife with a deformity like that?
When I arrived home from the doctor's office, I cried into my pillow, "God, how could you let this happen to me? You have the power to heal me. Why don't you?"
I developed a case of tunnel vision, searching through the Scriptures for the assurance of a magic cure. I clung to the story of the woman who was healed when she touched the edge of Jesus' robe (Luke 8:43-48). Again and again, I shoved it in God's face: "You healed her. Now heal me." But in my prayers, I left no room for God to be God. Not once did I say, "Not my will, but Yours be done."
Of course, my magic cure never came, and I underwent surgery just a few weeks before I was to graduate high school. The operation was a complete success, and within days I was back on my feet. Physically, I felt better than I had in years. Emotionally and spiritually, however, I was in a deep valley. I hated the ileostomy, and I felt betrayed. Where was God? Why hadn't he answered my prayers?
I continued in a depression for several days. Then one morning, I came across a passage in Psalms that hit me like a physical blow:
"The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me, I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!" The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion … Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living" (Ps. 116:3-9, NIV).
I was stunned. Though written thousands of years before, the passage could have been put there just for me. As I read and reread David's words, the scales suddenly fell away from my eyes. I had become so focused on what I wanted that I had lost sight of God's compassion, righteousness, and sovereignty.
I had been too blind to see that He had indeed answered my prayers. Wasn't I alive and healthy once again? He had healed me, even if it was not exactly in the fashion I would have preferred, and I could sense him whispering, "Trust Me. I know best."
After a powerful struggle, I gave my future back to God, and He has remained faithful. In the years since, He has given me the opportunity to share my testimony with others facing the same surgery I endured. He also blessed me with a wonderful husband and a beautiful son and daughter.
- Do you believe God still provides miraculous healings today? Why, or why not?
- Have you ever "missed" God's answer to a prayer because you were looking for something different?
But most importantly, though it is still difficult, God has taught me to pray according to His will, and then to look for His deeper answers.
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