In 2009, I began experiencing mysterious, migraine-like symptoms that came out of nowhere. When the symptoms worsened over the course of several weeks, I went to a doctor.
The doctor ordered a number of tests, including a 48-hour EEG, which required me to walk around for two days with a bunch of wires stuck to my head. After they applied the wires, I looked in the mirror, and it only seemed to confirm that I probably had some weird disorder that couldn't be fixed.
I had seen a handful of bizarre miracles in my lifetime, but for some reason, that day I gave up hope that God would heal me.
That afternoon, I went to a pharmacy to buy a cheap hat to cover the wires. That's when I got accosted in the greeting card aisle by a beautiful, deeply-wrinkled, elderly woman with silver hair bunched on her head.
In a heavy, French accent she asked, "What happened to you?"
I paused for a second, taken aback by the abrupt question and her fierce, blue eyes.
"Um - well, I actually don't know," I said. "The doctors are trying to figure it out."
"Do you believe that God is going to heal you?" she asked.
"Yes," I said sheepishly, figuring that was the right answer.
That's when she broke out into French.
"Ne t'ai-je pas dit que, si tu crois, tu verras la gloire de Dieu?" she said, and then translated: "Did I not say to you if you believe you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).
"I do believe," I said, making a poor attempt to sound confident. "Thank you."
"No - thank the Lord," she said. "He is the one who will do it. You know, we owned ten houses and three apartments in France when the Germans came to get us. They told us there was no way we would escape to Genoa to get on the boat to America, but I believed God, and here I am today. Remember: 'Si tu crois, tu verras la gloire de Dieu' - 'If you believe you will see the glory of God.' You must believe."
As I looked into her eyes, I couldn't help but believe her. She spoke to me with such conviction, as if she had been to the future and seen it herself. I smiled at her and said, "I believe," but this time I meant it.
"God will do it," she said, and then she said goodbye "with a kiss - two kisses" on my cheeks.
I walked out of the pharmacy wearing my black stocking cap and feeling like I had just had an encounter with God Himself, and I was fairly convinced I wouldn't experience any more symptoms after that - but unfortunately, the symptoms came back within an hour. And after the doctor reviewed the test results, she concluded that something was wrong, and I would have to live with it for the rest of my life.
I've never forgotten the French lady, and I've wanted to believe her, but almost every time I've asked God to heal me, I've wrestled with a low-grade level of insecurity. It wasn't until last week that I figured out why: I'm simply afraid He's not going to do it. And why wouldn't I be? I've probably asked Him hundreds of times and He hasn't done it yet. Maybe I'm not getting the message.
I mean, what if God is like, "Stop asking to be healed of this, and start praying for starving kids in India, for crying out loud. I have sovereignly allowed this to happen to you, and anyway, I have better things to do - obviously."
Or maybe He's like, "Joshua, I would be perfectly happy to heal you - if you would pray in faith - and I ain't talking about this half-baked faith you've been serving up. I'm talking about walk-on-water stuff. Go back to your prayer closet and get it right if you want a miracle."
These trains of thought have been effective at one thing: convincing me to stop praying about it at all, which I often do for long periods of time.
But then the other day, I remembered something very basic about God: He's a good Dad. And here's the thing about good dads: they aren't indifferent to the legitimate needs of their children; they don't reprimand their kids for asking for help; and they don't play weird, psychological games with their kids' requests.
|My daughter and me|
It occurred to me that God's own Son told us to "keep on asking," so there must be something inherently good about me repeatedly coming to Him for help. It also means there are going to be times when we don't immediately get the answer we want - otherwise we wouldn't need to "keep on." With that in mind, I'm just going to pray for healing until God does it.
Yes, French lady, I believe - and it's opening my eyes to see the glory of God.