I mentioned before that there came a point in our journey last year when we felt God leading us away from private therapy. Please don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of private therapy, and if your child is making big gains, I would be the first in line to tell you to stick with it, but that wasn’t our story.
Luke’s progress had always been painstakingly slow. For years I had held on to the idea that he would suddenly experience a huge spike like so many others I had heard about, and then it would get easier, but that didn’t happen. So, eventually, we started to consider the long-term payoff.
Our Journey Away From Private Therapy
Was this therapy the difference between dependence and independence for Luke? Or was it just the difference between communicating at a two-year old-level or a three-year-old level? Had it been the former we almost definitely would have stuck with it, but for Luke, it seemed to be the latter.
And then my husband lost his job … and our health insurance … four months after we bought our house.
If Nick’s job loss wasn’t a neon sign that it was time to discontinue therapy, I don’t know what is. So, Nick and I took inventory of our options. Luke was in school six hours a day and during that time received continuous interaction, speech and occupational therapies. By walking away from therapy, we would have more time and money to invest in time together as a family, and that would be “therapeutic” as well.
And then we examined our faith (we probably should have done this first). Is the God we serve not able to heal Luke with or without therapy? There is no denying that God often uses therapy to help heal our kids, but He doesn’t need therapy to make Luke well. If God wills to heal Luke, then Luke will be healed. End of story.
And then I came across this passage in Scripture…
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” – James 5:14-15
A Step of Faith
I realized for all the hours of therapy, all the thousands of dollars, and all of the tears and prayers, I had never taken this simple step of asking the elders to pray over Luke, so I contacted them and the day was appointed that Luke would be prayed over, just prior to the service.
Initially, I was concerned that I would not believe enough in the power of this prayer to heal Luke, but as the days went on I found myself filled with more hope for Luke’s healing than I had in years. I looked to that day with great anticipation. I fasted to prepare my heart, and as that morning approached, I was soaring so high I was afraid for what I would feel if Luke wasn’t healed.
That day, as I leaned over the tub, massaging shampoo through Luke’s thick blonde locks, I thought to myself, “This may be the last time I have to do this for him. This afternoon, he may be able to do this for himself.” This was the attitude of my heart as I went through all of our usual activities. This might be the last time I dress him. The last time I bathe him. The last time I help him with his shoes. Because after this morning, he could be like any other kid.
Hope filled me. I was peaceful and joyful, and it was perhaps even a little bittersweet – like when you kiss your children goodbye on their first day of preschool – because this chapter of my life – as painful as it was at times – was surprisingly precious.
We were ushered into a private room at the back of the church. I had dressed Luke in new clothes and styled his hair, wanting his outward appearance to clearly reflect that this was a deeply loved boy. One by one the elders filtered into the room and Nick and I greeted each with joy and thankfulness. They gathered around and laid hands on Luke and us, praying bold prayers for healing and progress, but nothing happened that day.
Preparing My Heart
Nick took Luke to kids’ church while I made my way into the sanctuary and began to reflect on these events. The worship team began to play, and as music and praise filled the room I found myself singing these words that morning:
“It is well with my soul.”
In that moment Jesus became as real to me as if he had taken up the seat beside mine. It was as if all of the prayers for Luke’s healing I had ever prayed had culminated into this moment and God was finally answering. And this was his answer:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
My eyes brimmed with joyful tears as I declared that Luke’s disability was well with my soul. I sensed freedom in hearing that declared from my own lips, and it redoubled the strength of my song. The song continued:
“My hope is sure, in Christ my Savior.”
My hope is sure. My hope of heaven and eternal life? Definitely. But also my hope of seeing Luke’s mind whole. His healing is coming with certainty. I just need to wait for Heaven to see it realized.
Not only was it well with my soul, but my soul was well. Suddenly, the fact that the answer was not what I had hoped for paled in comparison to the joy of finally hearing from my Lord. “If this is what hearing from you feels like, Lord,” I silently prayed, “why did you wait so long to answer me?” No sooner had I formed the question in my mind, the response came. “The waiting was so you could accept the answer with joy.”
Some Thoughts on Faith
In the days following, I had a lot of people come up to me trying to offer encouragement, supposing that I would be disappointed by God’s choice for my family. So, I would recount for them that epic moment when Jesus had become so tangible, and I would tell them how I was looking forward to THAT day – the day when Jesus has promised He WILL wipe away all my tears – when He WILL heal Luke and we will live forever in Glory. But in spite of my enthusiasm in declaring God’s faithfulness, I would inevitably see a look of concern slowly spread over their face like a dark cloud. Then they would give a response like, “But you can’t stop having faith that God will heal Luke in this life.”
As a result, I found myself pondering a lot on the nature of faith – the role of faith in our prayers – and what exactly we are supposed to have faith in anyway. Because let’s face it, sometimes God seems silent.
Sometimes needs aren’t met.
Sometimes people aren’t healed.
Sometimes unspeakably terrible things happen.
Are we supposed to conclude that these things only happen to the un-faithful?
As I worked through all these thoughts, it dawned on me that when we have “faith” that God will do something just because we’ve decided it’s what’s best for us, what we are really having faith in is that God will do what we want Him to do. That makes us the master and God the servant.
Now, hear me out. I absolutely think we should pray about everything (Phillippians 4:6-7), and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with asking God for what we want, but I don’t think we are supposed to have faith that God will do something, simply because we want Him to.
A New Perspective
When I read the Bible, I see God rewarding two different types of faith. The first is faith in who He is. The other is faith in His Word – that He will keep the promises He has made in Scripture, chief among them that he will restore His creation and set all things right for His people at the last day.
Can I be very honest and say that we as the Church have become so focused on finding comfort in this life, but shouldn’t we be pointing people (and ourselves) toward the next?
We need to stop treating heavenly healing as a consolation prize for those not healed in this life. Heavenly healing is the grand prize jackpot! It’s the complete and forever healing of the body and the soul.
That’s what I want for Luke – not only a healing of his mind.
If people experience healing in this life, that’s wonderful! Rejoice with those who rejoice. But for those who don’t, remind them that healing is coming. Encourage them to have faith in God’s goodwill toward them and in His power to sustain them as they wait for the day Christ has promised is coming for all who love Him.