When God Doesn’t Heal

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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.
 
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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.
 
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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). 
 
Tweetables:

[tweetit]”I have another story to tell: the lesser-told story…” – @Tanya_marlow [/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”Sometimes we need to sit in the middle of the story without knowing the end.” @Tanya_Marlow[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”I have a story about being miraculously healed, but I also have one about not being healed.” @Tanya_Marlow[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”My faith is bruised, but still I cling to Him.” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal:[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”Sometimes it is braver to share the messy middle” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”I am Jacob, the one who wrestles and struggles.” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”The years go by…but the miracle doesn’t come.” – @Tanya_Marlow – When God Doesn’t Heal[/tweetit]
 

Over to you:

  • What is your relationship with the mystery of healing?
  • What lesser-told story are you carrying?

 
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40 Responses to When God Doesn’t Heal

  1. Lynn Ulrich 15th November, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Thanks for telling the TRUTH about NOT being instantly healed! The struggle that NEVER ends. This is something I WOULD stand up for in a stadium, I dont stand for those “perfect” testimonies that all end well. I stand up for the broken ones who keep going, because it takes FAR more faith to keep going even though you are not healed and you remain broken, than it takes to be just instantly healed.

    • Tanya 24th February, 2016 at 11:35 am #

      So sorry for my delay in replying. Thanks for cheering me on in my story!

  2. Angela Taff 24th October, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Beautiful insight Hon. Thank you for sharing. I believe God truly steps in once we let our “mess” become our “message.”
    My journey with ME was long…8 years. At my lowest, I was bed bound and had someone coming in my home to bathe, cook and clean. It was a very humbling experience. I watched it progress from ME to fibromyalgia and eventually Lupus. Through a series of events orchestrated beautifully by God, I was led to healing. God used other people to guide me, give me knowledge and after 8 weeks my blood work stabilized. It took another 3 months to regain my total autonomy. I now travel the country educating others…my way of giving back.
    There is a book that you may find interesting: Depression Free Naturally by Dr. Joan Matthews Larson. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s full of all the specifics to get you started.
    I have since traveled to various labs and researched the best products. I do not work for any of them as I want to be available to guide others freely and completely unbiased…unless of course God redirects me. I’m following his lead.
    If I can be of any help, don’t hesitate to ask me questions. You can reach me through Facebook or Facebook Messenger.
    Best Wishes to you all and God bless.

    • Tanya 9th November, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply – these past two weeks have been crazy. Hi Angela – thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your story. I loved your comment about our ‘mess’ becoming our ‘message’! Thank you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Top 10 Posts at Thorns and Gold 2015 | Tanya Marlow - Thorns and Gold - 28th December, 2015

    […] “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.” – When God Doesn’t Heal […]

  2. A Few of My Favorite Things {October 2015} | The Trotter Family - 25th October, 2015

    […] When God Doesn’t Heal by Tanya Marlow. I think we all need this message sometimes; we all have things in our lives that God just doesn’t seem to heal. We all walk with a limp of some sort. Tanya is deep and you need to be reading her; here’s another good one from her this month. […]

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