I know the story I am supposed to tell.
I am supposed to tell the one about my miraculous healing when I was just six days old.
I could tell you I was rushed into the best children’s hospital in the country, as the doctors explained to my parents that I had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and there was nothing they could do. I could tell you about my parents crying with helplessness over their 6lb first-born baby, as the machines beeped and the doctors muttered words like ‘vegetable’ and ‘unable to ever read or write’ and ‘prayer’.
I could tell you of the nurse who offered to pray with my then-agnostic parents; the surprise of the doctors the next day when the scan showed my brain was completely better; the doctors telling my parents, ‘this is what is known in the trade as a miracle.’ I could tell you of my parents wandering into a church several months after that, and finding God because they knew He had saved their daughter, and He might be interested in saving them too.
This is the story that would be told to a packed stadium at a Christian conference. We love to hear the story of the paralysed man who now walks and leaps and praises God. I could tell it well. I could tell it so it would bring glory to God. It is a true story, and it is a good one.
But I have another story to tell: the lesser-told story, the ongoing story, the one that we wouldn’t tell in a big Christian conference because we wouldn’t know whether we were supposed to applaud at the end.
I have a story about being miraculously healed, but I also have one about not being healed.
I was diagnosed with M.E. nine years ago, but I had it for ten years in a mild form before that. That’s ten years of being wiped out every time I had a virus, and not knowing why; ten years of doctors telling me my tiredness was probably from depression, even though I didn’t feel depressed. That’s another four years of suddenly being unable to walk more than five minutes, needing to be pushed in a wheelchair, needing to cut down my work to four hours a day, then just four hours a week; the doctors looking perplexed and concerned. That’s a further five years of deterioration: being unable to walk more than a few paces, getting a stairlift for the house, hiring a nanny to help me lift my baby, spending most of each day resting in bed, leaving the house once a fortnight in my wheelchair for a happy hour in the sunshine; the doctors silent and unsure. That’s nineteen years of slow deterioration and disability, and a whole lot of helpless tears and holding hands and prayer.
Once more, the doctors are saying that they don’t know what to do and it would take a miracle to get me better – but that miracle just doesn’t come. The years go by, the uncertainty and the coping strategies continue, but the miracle doesn’t come. God can heal me, this I know – He did it before. I don’t doubt His power, and on a good day, I don’t doubt His goodness either. Sometimes He heals; sometimes He doesn’t.
We don’t tell these stories in the stadiums of Christian conferences – the stories of the non-miraculous, the ongoing, the unresolved. It’s not like I can even say I’ve seen great spiritual benefits to offset the suffering: God hasn’t been closer to me in my time of suffering; I haven’t been any holier. It’s just been hard.
But I am telling my story anyway, because sometimes we need to sit in the middle of the story without knowing the end. Sometimes it is braver to share the messy middle, without the redemption, the lesson, the part where it all starts to make sense. Sometimes we just need to sit in that tension and feel the lack of resolution: that hunger for the world to be put right; for death and disease to be no more; for God to be near; for every tear to be wiped from our eyes.
This is my story: I have cried. I have thrown spiritual tantrums. I have ignored God. I have submitted to God. I have yelled at God. I have begged Him to bless me.
I am not the paralysed man, now walking and leaping; I am the opposite. I am Jacob, the one who wrestles and struggles. I am walking through it all, but with a limp. My faith is bruised, but still I cling to Him.
Like Jacob, sometimes you wrestle with God all night, and all He gives you is a limp and a new name. I am learning to call it ‘blessing’.
(This post was initially published on Prodigal Magazine, and has been updated for publication here).
“I have another story to tell: the lesser-told story…” – @Tanya_marlow
“Sometimes we need to sit in the middle of the story without knowing the end.” @Tanya_Marlow
“I have a story about being miraculously healed, but I also have one about not being healed.” @Tanya_Marlow
“My faith is bruised, but still I cling to Him.” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal:
“Sometimes it is braver to share the messy middle” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal
“I am Jacob, the one who wrestles and struggles.” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal
“The years go by…but the miracle doesn’t come.” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal
Over to you:
- What is your relationship with the mystery of healing?
- What lesser-told story are you carrying?
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