Recently at our church’s worship service, a couple told the story of their little boy. When he was 8 ½ months old, he began to throw up anything and everything he was fed – and he threw up for 37 days straight. They eventually learned that he was allergic to a large number of common foods – dairy products and fish, to cite only two – and numerous environmental factors.
They family went on a lengthy journey of doctors, tests and prayers. The couple reached a point where they knew their son was in God’s hands, and no matter what happened, they would find solace, contentment and meaning in that. Not long ago, the couple brought their now three-and-a-half-year-old son to be anointed and prayed over by the pastors and elders. Some may question or scoff at this, but not long afterward the child began to gain weight and thrive.
Last December, I did exactly the same thing.
In June of 2011, I experienced a ruptured disc in my back. At first excruciating, the pain seemed to subside, and things seemed better through July. And then in August, the pain was back, and worse than before. I couldn’t drive for three weeks because of the maximum does of the painkiller I was taking around the clock. Numerous times I was lying flat on the floor, the only comfortable position I could maintain for any length of time.
For the next six months, it was doctors, an MRI, two rounds of cortisone injections directly into my back, physical therapy (two different therapists), using a handicapped parking tag and feeling grateful for it, constant use of a cane to walk, and pain that could only be held at bay with prescription painkillers. The second physical therapist I went to told me later that at first they thought I was beyond normal help and surgery inevitable. I was doing all kinds of exercises, the therapist was manipulating my leg in ways I didn’t think possible, and I was doing traction twice a week. That was my life for about five months.
In December, our pastor preached a sermon on the elders doing anointing and praying. After hearing that, and with the urging of my wife, I asked the pastor for the ceremony. After church one Sunday, several pastors and elders gathered together, anointing my forehead with oil and praying over me.
I didn’t expect a miracle healing, right there on the spot. I understood what this was really about – not so much healing as submitting to God. And no miracle healing happened that day, or the next, or the two or three weeks after that.
A short time later, we consulted with a surgeon, who looked at the MRI and said no surgery was necessary – the ruptured part of the disc was dissolving and healing on it its own, reducing pressure on the nerve and – eventually, he said – reducing the pain.
At the end of the first week of February, I was able to lay the cane aside. I used my handicapped parking sticker until the end of March. About then, I took my first bike ride in nine months. Physical therapy ended in early April, and now I’m working with a personal trainer to strengthen my core and get back into shape. I still get twinges of the pain at times. Occasionally, I can still feel a slight numbness in my left calf and foot. But the pain is almost entirely gone.
I don’t know the desperation and fear of parents with a very sick child. But I do know the desperation and fear of thinking that a medical condition requiring one of the strongest painkillers available might be with me the rest of my life.
I submitted that desperation and fear – and that healing was the real miracle healing.
Please pray for that family at my church. The little boy is doing better, gaining weight and beginning to thrive.
And please pray for Seth and Amber Haines. Their youngest son, Titus, has been in the hospital for some time, with significant feeding and nutrition problems. Seth and Amber have been walking a path filled with anguish, hope, faith, desperation, encouragement, and helplessness, and it’s been hard. So pray for them and for Titus. Information can be found at Seth’s blog and Amber’s blog. Titus is at home now, but the situation is still serious.