Prayer seems so simple. We are told to just ask and God will hear us; but do you feel like you’ve been ignored?
Some time ago I went through a difficult time with my health. There seemed to be no answer medically and my symptoms only worsened over time. My weight was dropping and I was scary thin. I remember preparing myself for death and thinking through all that I needed to do in order to get my family settled. I started cleaning out cluttered areas and even gave away some of my clothes, trying to make it easier for my family if I passed away. The most difficult part was thinking about my precious daughters and my amazing husband. I was so grief-stricken for them, not just for myself; but then one day…I fell apart.
I tried to understand why God would let this happen to me and why would he give me such a great family and then strip me away from it all, leaving my children without a mother and my husband without a wife. It was then that I found myself helpless and alone and afraid…for the first time in my life.
Weeks of testing and thousands of dollars out of our own pocket were squeezed, leaving our family budget a mess as the doctors tried everything. For a while, I think that they might have even thought that I was having some type of psychological illness. Depression enveloped me but I choose to swallow it deep inside and never let anyone see how bad it really was. As my clothes hung from my body, I was annoyed when people said things like: “You look great!” I was under 100 pounds when one woman said this to me and I seriously thought about punching her in the mouth.
As I laid in bed each night, exhausted from not being able to eat anything, I would wait until my husband and children were asleep and I would either sneak down to the basement alone or lay in the darkness as quietly as possible and pray. I cannot express to you how lonely I felt. There was a deep and terrible pain that engulfed me and I couldn’t share it with my best friend (my husband) because he was grieving too and trying to hide his fear as well. We never said it but we both knew I was dying.
Heaven seemed silent, although I felt some comfort when I prayed. Why couldn’t I get better? Why had my body seemingly rejected food? The tests were all either inconclusive or negative, so in a way, I was glad they didn’t find cancer or something incurable; but not knowing and your body shutting down are just as bad at that point because there is no answer.
Without going into all the history, I was basically unable to eat anything without getting very sick or having terrible pain or both. Even water was difficult at times when my body would be at its worst levels of pain. The only thing I could do was sip on sweet tea to try to get some sugar in my body to stay alive. Occasionally, I would try to eat again and the pain would be back. Most of the time, I choose hunger over pain.
After multiple GI tests and a CT scan, they determined that maybe I should see my OBGYN since my mother had died of ovarian cancer. I’ll never forget when they found the mass that had been missed on the CT scan. There was a sudden change in the demeanor of the nurse and she quickly went to get a doctor. Within minutes, they were scheduling surgery and three days later I had a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy, where they found additional tumors on the other ovary as well that had also been missed on all other tests. Fortunately, all were benign.
My ordeal didn’t end there, but the pain levels were better and I could eat some again. Someday I may go into more detail; but let’s say that after that day, I still had another year of torment until my husband saw a pattern with my pain and my eating that led me to get off corn and wheat as much as possible and I can now say that I am about 99% symptom free today.
During those dark nights praying alone, I found something that I had never experienced before. At first, I was dedicated to prayer daily and then I became frustrated when nothing seemed to be helping. I would venture to say that I was actually mad at God for putting me in this situation and I didn’t know how to fix it. I don’t know when I downloaded this app, but it was definitely years before my ordeal. The Bible app gives me a verse of the day and one day it popped up on my phone. I missed it, so I tried to find it again and somehow ended on this verse instead:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Staring at my phone, I could almost hear God saying for me to relax and that He had this. Trust Him. It will all be okay.
Part of me scoffed at the thought of relaxing but from that time forward I changed my prayers from “Please heal me” to “Please just help us find a way to get through this” and almost instantly I began to feel Him more every time I prayed. Something changed in my heart every day as I increased my prayers and stopped asking for Him to heal me. Incredibly, it was the very next day that my husband realized the pattern with my symptoms—something no one else had seen before even after creating a food diary for weeks.
Even though my body was never healed, I was able to find a path to eat again and now I’m healthy and happy and feel great. Without a doubt, I will always believe that He put the idea in my husband’s head about the relation of my diet and my illness.
This is the second time that God has taught me this lesson in such a drastic way and I’m sure He is amazed that it took so much to get my attention again. God knows me better than anyone and knew I would be okay; but even if I hadn’t, His ways are still better than mine. Whatever His path is for my life, I choose His.
The story is not over, though. Through all of my tests and problems, I learned an incredible amount of information that has helped me explain and understand much of what is happening with the children that I work with in my job as a pediatric PT. Any child with GI issues has my immediate sympathy and I’ve been able to help their families understand more about the issues as well as recognize them in advance. Even though my ordeal was less than pleasant; it has become such a blessing in my work to be able to help others with their journey.
I sincerely hope that you all are healthy, well, and happy; but remember that this is not what we are promised. Pain and trials are coming to us all and we can find our best hope on our knees.