Monday, October 19, 2009

some thoughts on healing

I've heard some differing perspectives on divine healing over the years--from "God's will is for all sickness to be healed," to "God doesn't heal people today." Somewhere in-between those extremes, I have developed my own theology of healing.

It's pretty simple: I pray for healing and leave the results to God.

I have witnessed at least two miraculous healings within my immediate family--the kind where the doctors and experts just kind of scratch their heads and go, "Huh, have no idea how this could have happened!"

Danielle is Exhibit A in the Miracle Healing department. When we took her in for her six-month-old baby check (which was not an easy task, since Greg and I were still in wheelchairs and healing from our car accident just a month earlier), the nurse discovered that the circumference of her head had expanded beyond normal bounds. After rechecking the measurements, her pediatrician ordered a CAT scan and told us that the growth could be caused by two conditions: a brain tumor or hydrocephalus (water on the brain).

To parents who had just buried their firstborn, this was not good news. Worse yet, we'd taken Danielle in on a Friday and had to wait until Monday to get the results of the scan. It was the weekend from hell, for sure, and I vaguely recall mentally planning a second funeral as we waited for the doctor to call. The phone finally rang Monday afternoon and we received the news:

Danielle's head had enlarged because of a build-up of fluid around the ventricles in her brain. She suffered from "water on the brain."

We took her to see a neurosurgeon later that week and learned more than we ever wanted to know about hydrocephalus. He wanted us to bring her in for monthly CAT scans, to monitor the levels of fluid build-up. If too much pressure was being put on Danielle's brain, a shunt could be inserted for drainage.

We made the journey to the neurosurgeon for several months, each time being met with the grim news that the fluid continued to collect around the ventricles. The doctor felt that she'd need a shunt put in by the time she turned one--and while that would help relieve the pressure, it also opened her up to infection and other complications.

Can I just confess I was pretty ticked at God by this point? I was still in a wheelchair, struggling to recover physically and emotionally from the car accident that smashed up my body and took the life of my only son . . . only to be broadsided by by Danielle's serious illness. Let's just say I wasn't a shining example of faith in Christ when the elders from our church showed up one night to pray for our sick daughter.

"Do you have any oil?" one of them asked as the six men gathered awkwardly in our family room for prayer. None of us had ever done anything like this before, but our pastor had just read James 5:14 and felt he and the elders were to anoint Danielle with oil and pray for her healing.

I rummaged through my cupboards and found some Wesson oil. It was made from corn, not olives, but we figured it would do. I held Danielle in my arms while the guys gathered around and offered up simple prayers for her healing. Nothing dramatic happened, but I think we all felt more peaceful afer the prayers. It was kind of like we'd done our part, now God could do His.

And He did! On our next visit to the neurosurgeon, he discovered that Danielle's head circumference remained unchanged. That prompted another CAT scan, which revealed a lessening of fluid surrounding her brain. Puzzled, he had us bring her in every two weeks so measurements could be taken and more tests could be run.

When Danielle was just shy of her first birthday, the doctor gave us the best present ever by pronouncing her cured of hydrocephalus! There would be no need for a shunt now--or any more trips to the neurosurgeon's office! He, of course, had no explanation for her restored health, but we did. God had healed our daughter!

(Although if you look closely, her head is still a bit larger than the average woman's . . .)

Danielle's amazing healing definitely fueled my faith to pray for the health of others through the years. And I've witnessed miraculous deliverances from disease--but I've also seen friends and family struggle with infirmities for years . . . or even die from their conditions.

But for christ-followers, isn't death the ultimate healing? And can He not be glorified and served through our sickness as much as through our health? (For all our prayers, God chose not to heal our son Jonah from the condition of autism and let his life be cut short by a terrible car accident. But I cannot begin to count the lives that were touched by Jonah's brief life, through both his disability and his death).

Like I wrote earlier, I am compelled to pray and leave the results to Him . . . He is the One who determined our life span before we ever drew our first breath:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16


Teresa Lee said...

Shawn,I so appreciated your thoughts and honesty. I have also come to the same conclusion concerning healing. God is able, we can ask and we should ask...coming bolding into His throne of Grace....and we leave it with HIM with no demands..... I am thinking of our dear friend in Alaska as I was reading.... lifting her before the Lord and trusting Him with her....

AK Pastor Blog said...

a grace filled post. Paul prayed for his thorn to be removed until God said no. When God removes grace of one kind (healing) he gives grace of another kind (sufficiency).

marja said...

Hi Shawn,

I appreciated reading this and how prayer healed your daughter. Although I have a deep faith, sometimes I find it hard to believe that prayer could heal me. My bipolar disorder is, after all, a lifelong condition. But if only prayer could help me cope well enough to keep debilitating depression away or at a minimum, that would be wonderful.

You've told me you've been praying for me. And I don't feel in quite as much danger of crashing as I did a few days ago. The prayers at work? Very likely. I know there are others praying for me as well.

Now I have to pray to God to help my disbelief. To ask God help me believe that I can, with His help, be well.

And it's so important that I stay well! I want to do the work He's given me to do.

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