Have you ever felt sure that God was going to heal you and then you waited . . . and waited . . . ?
Welcome to our guest author for today’s feature article, Jennifer Slattery.
If you have the faith to move mountains, He said . . .
Ask and it will be given, He said . . .
If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard these verses enough times to recite them in your sleep.
But what happens when God appears to turn a deaf ear to our heart’s greatest cry?
I’ve been sick for a while now, receiving my first diagnosis in the fall of 2012. Since then, it seems my body’s been in a frequent state of revolt. There have been times I’ve chosen to revolt right along with it! I’ll stamp my foot, frown toward heaven, have long arguments with my Savior– If You’d only . . .
Followed by long periods of quiet, more peace-filled surrender.
That’s where I was about a month ago. Two and a half years into this journey called “Chronic Illness.” I’d finally come to terms with my state. I was learning to adapt. To find joy in the new. To celebrate the good times and drawn ever-closer to Christ in the rough.
Until one day, a thought niggled
I should ask my Bible study group lay hands on me and pray for healing.
I quickly pushed the thought aside. Asking for prayer would mean being honest with the depth of my struggles. Moreover, they’d prayed for me many times, many still were. Besides, everyone had concerns and problems, after all. Why make mine the focus?
So I went on about my day, and the next, and the next. Until, about a week later, the thought returned. This time I mentioned it to my sweet husband, who responded, “I pray for you every day.”
So again . . . I let it go.
Until the following Sunday . . .
Just settling back into surrender, our pastor delivered a sermon on the James 5:13-17:
“Are any of you sick? You should call on the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well” (verses 5:14-15a NLT).
My pulse quickened as hope blossomed. This had to be from God, which meant, He planned to heal me!
Again, I told my husband, this time explaining all the events leading up to my conclusion.
He agreed. “I’ll send out an email to let everyone know.”
Smiling, I settled back in my seat and allowed myself to think of all the things I might do, once God made me 100% well. In short, my life would instantly return to the way it had been before.
The night of our next Bible study, I had a ministry meeting, so I arrived late. And nervous–not to mention extremely embarrassed.
The moment I walked in, everyone grew quiet
All heads turned my way. My husband sprang to his feet and grabbed a chair, placing it in the center of the room. A sweet friend jumped up and dashed into her kitchen to get a dish of oil. And as my husband gently guided me to my chair, placing his strong, protective hands on my shoulders, everyone else gathered around me.
They prayed over me, my sweet friend anointing first my forehead then the backs of my hands with oil, her eyes filled with compassion while I sat, surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Tears poured down my cheeks as I heard them speak words of admiration and deep love. Some of them cried, too, as they beseeched our Heavenly Father on my behalf.
It was one of the most beautiful outpourings of Christian love I’ve experienced. I left that night completely humbled.
And more convinced than ever that my days of chronic illness were passed.
The following day, however, I was struck by a pain more intense than usual and unrelenting fatigue. A deep discouragement rode on its tails, the kind that comes from allowing your hopes to rise only to find them shattered once again.
Why, Lord? I cried. Why did You bring me on this journey? Why did You allow hope to blossom only to snatch it from me once again?
The answer came as quick, as clear, and as softly as that first thought, three weeks prior–
“I wanted you to experience their love for you . . .”
I realized in that moment that was more beautiful than any healing I might have received.
Jennifer Slattery received her first diagnosis–colits–in 2012, and in March of 2014 learned she also had fibromyalgia. Since then, she has determined to live victorious despite her chronic illness, serving Christ in whatever capacity she is able. This includes writing novels that encourage believers to discover and embrace their God-given callings and writing articles for Crosswalk.com that point readers toward Christ and godly living. You can find out more about her by visiting her devotional blog, http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com, and if you need support, encouragement, or prayer, she welcomes you to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org