Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When the thorn remains.

A few weeks ago, a pastor of another church visited mine and led a special service. It was for the purpose of healing- spiritually, physically, emotionally or whatever. I wound up last in line for prayer. To my surprise, Guest Rector not only laid hands on me but while praying, began speaking in tongues. Of course I know the Charismatic Movement had spread to even the frigid Episcopalians decades ago. It still threw me for a bit of a loop to see a man dressed in fancy schmancy robes and even that little cap bust out like my Pentecostal grandma.

Before he began his prayer, he asked for my request. I told him, and he prayed earnestly. After the "amen", he asked me if I felt any differences. He looked at me straight in the eyes, warmly and full of hope.

"Uhh, well, no. Thank you so very much for your prayers," I stammered quietly, and then asked him to pray for my sister, who's been dealing with a lot lately. He immediately did, and I returned to my seat in the pew next to my pastor's wife.

I felt sorry for Guest Rector, and I've felt sorry for a number of other awesome, Godly, loving people who have prayed for me over the years. They believe in complete healing. They've held my hands, cried, and rubbed little oil crosses on my forehead. They've spoken Psalm 91 over my life repeatedly. They've given me books, highlighted verses and burned CDs of encouraging worship music.

Yet, here I am, unhealed.

My chronic illness seems to make some uncomfortable. It reminds me of my bad knee I injured back in college, long before any of this CIDP mess. I was in a prayer group, and they set about my healing with gusto one Sunday evening. They wound up creeping me out. After putting me in a chair in the center of a circle (which set me right in the spotlight, something I don't like), they took turns praying. It might've gone on fifteen minutes but it felt like forever.

What creeped me out wasn't the excited prayer. Again, I'm use to that. Nah, it was the immediate questioning afterwards.

"You do feel better, right?"

"You claim your healing NOW. If you don't, the devil will steal it! Do you understand?" (Funny, I never read of any of the miracles performed in the Bible coming with possible expiration dates.)

"You can feel heat in your knee right?" (I felt heat all over! It was blazing in there!)

"Thank the Lord for your healing!" (Not a question, but a demand that would've been a lie because I hadn't been healed.)

When I wasn't healed, some speculated on my faith and commitment levels. Others thought another prayer circle should be gathered. Some were just plain old confused.

Such an uncomfortable truth. Sometimes, many times, God doesn't heal. Paul prayed repeatedly for his thorn to be removed.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I know of some Christians who so believe in "the power of the tongue", they refuse to admit even when they are sick. Naming it is claiming it. I'm not sure what their response to that bit of passage above is. I do know I refuse to fake a healing in some sort of misguided belief that will make it happen.

I have been told somewhat on the sly that I have wrapped my identity around this illness. That hurts.But it IS part of my life, just as I'm a woman, Black, a mom and wife, a Christian.

There is no testimony without a test.

Some have quizes. Others, we have the SAT, ACT, LSAT and MCAT, all rolled into one.


Red Cardigan said...

I'm not sure if this is a Catholic difference, but I've always thought of my migraines (not nearly what you have to deal with!) as something God, in His goodness, gives me so I can offer up my suffering on behalf of others. If I didn't have them, I'd be so lazy about sacrifices!

If He wished to heal me of them, He would, but it's such a little cross for me to carry--a mere inconvenience more often than not.

The lives of the saints are full of stories of their various aches and pains, ranging from the trivial to the fatal. It's their cheerful submission to God's will, not their inability to "be healed," that signals their holiness.

Now sometimes, just as with St. Peter's mother-in-law, God would heal a saint of something or other long enough for that saint to go and do something God wanted him or her to do--but the illness or problem usually came back afterward, unless it would have stopped the saint from living out his or her vocation or something. There's a message there, I think!

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hi Erin,

I tried to reply three times, and each time, my iphone ate the comment. So, now I'm on a PC.

I have been more blessed by Catholic books on trials throughout the past three years than by Protestant ones. I believe it is the Catholic difference. What many of us Prots dismiss as a Catholic focus on suffering is actually a real comfort. Whereas many Protestant books and sermons focus on healing (and are infected with the empty prosperity gospel), I've found real strength in offering up my illness as a sacrifice as many of the Saints did.

I sometimes wonder- who would I be without this? And when I think back to who I was just four years ago and honestly, I like me a lot better now! Also, migraines are no joke. I get some nasty headaches triggered by sinus issues (which was exacerbated by the neuro issues), and AUGH! Seriously, I can do more while having a bad leg day! With a bad enough headache, I'm pretty much stuck lying in bed or on a couch. So I can relate.

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