Monday, January 23, 2023

When Prayers for Healing Hurt

Five years ago I was talking with Will about how painful it is when people say they are praying for my healing. It's something that isn't often spoken of by those with chronic illnesses, but when people pray for our healing, sometimes it just hurts. After I cried and poured out my heart to Will, he told me, "You need to blog about this. Don't post it right now. But someday, you need to post it."

Someday has come. Here is my post from five years ago.

October 16, 2017

I have lived with a chronic illness for 22 years. For the past 13 years this illness has been disabling to the point that I am primarily confined to my home due to extreme fatigue. And even when I am in my home, I have to be in bed resting for 18 hours a day or more.

I have prayed for healing, but so far God’s answer to that request has been, “no.” Over the years of illness I have learned to pray for new things – strength to persevere, a heart of compassion for others, a spirit that is submissive to the Father’s plan, joy in painful circumstances, patience in suffering, a thirst for God’s Word, opportunities to share the gospel with others, that the Lord would use me because of my circumstances.

I fully believe that God could heal me. He is more than able to restore strength and energy to my body. But I have learned to be content with illness, and I rarely pray for healing anymore. 

My hope isn’t in healing. My hope is in Jesus.

My hope isn’t in better days. My hope is in Jesus.

My hope isn’t in having energy. My hope is in Jesus.

If God chooses to heal me someday, I will gratefully and gladly accept that. But it is a choice that I leave up to Him. I don’t spend much energy praying for healing anymore. Once or twice a year, in a moment of desperation, I cry out to the Lord, and I ask for healing. Through tears of sorrow and weariness, I ask for the illness to be taken away and for strength to be restored. I admit my weakness and weariness of the suffering, and I submit to God’s will, whatever that may be.

When Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, he pleaded with God three times for it to be taken away. And God said, “no.” God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” There isn’t any indication that Paul continued to pray for relief. Instead, he accepted the Father’s will.

When someone tells me that they are praying for my healing, and they don’t say they are praying for anything else… it hurts. When healing is the primary focus of someone’s prayers for me, it feels like a rejection of me as a person. Like something is so wrong that it must be fixed before I can have a happy and productive life.

I wish that instead of staying on the outside and praying for my healing that people would step into my life, as it is, and be my friend in the here and now. I wish that people would join me in my limitations, accept me for who I am, and see the value in my life as it is right now.

For more than 20 years people have been praying for my healing, and for 20 years God has said no. I am content with that. I am willing to leave the choice up to Him. I am willing to wait until Heaven for my healing. If God wants to heal me before then, great! I’ll take it! But in the meantime, I want to embrace the life He has given me. I want to live the life I have!

Will you join me? Will you step into my broken life? Will you be my friend in sickness? Will you pray for my spiritual strength and endurance? Will you pray for my peace? Will you pray that God will comfort me in my loneliness? Will you step into my loneliness and be my friend? Will you pray that I will have opportunities to share the gospel? Will you pray that I will suffer well? Will you pray that I will gladly submit to God’s plan for my life? Will you pray for wisdom for me as a wife and mother and friend? Will you pray for me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer?

And after you have prayed for all of those things, if you are so inclined, you are welcome to pray for my healing too. But please don’t only pray for my healing. There is spiritual help that I need before I need any physical healing.

If you have a friend who is suffering from a chronic illness or disability, ask her what she would like you to pray for. You may be surprised to learn that physical healing isn’t her greatest desire or need.

Do you live with a chronic illness or disability? Do you have a spouse or child with a disability? How do you wish people would pray for you?

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