I know that God wants to touch *ALL* of my life, not only the parts that I've managed to divide out for Him. *I* am His, not just a part of me. I've been thinking about Hannah lately. I have been continually impressed by the wording of the verse that says, "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord." That tells me that Hannah wasn't just letting her spiritual side give her peace. She was hurting badly about her circumstances and begging and bargaining with God--and in time He honored her for it. Hers isn't the only story like this. Sarah laughed because God promised Abraham a son. She was 90 years old! What 90-year-old woman would be able to bear a child? And here is God promising to give a child, and a child specifically through her! But He did, even when she laughed!
One of the most fruitful times of spiritual growth in my life came when I told God that I didn't believe Him. That is not a place where I should remain, but it does demonstrate that God is a relational being and meets me where I am so that I may grow closer to Him.
In the spring of 1991, I was a freshman at Anderson University. Below is a bit from an entry from July 9, 2004. Some of it is snipped from other, older entries. I'll post it here rather than rewrite the story.
I and my classmates were quite naive but used the buzz words of the Christian faith with ease. I found that often portions of the Bible were quoted out of context. One night in February, 1991, as a group of girls from my dorm were holding a discussion in my room, a girl stated that healing was an experience which naturally followed salvation. I could feel my face redden with anger. The implication of her statement was that if I was really saved, I would have been healed of my blindness! Who was she to judge me, and where had God promised this? If she was right, then what was wrong with me? I was a good girl. I prayed often--even several times a day. I didn't always read my Bible, but I didn't know anyone who did. I didn't say hurtful things. I never questioned whether Jesus died to save me. But I was blind!
Desperate for understanding, I challenged her statement. "Maybe God doesn't always heal," I said. "I was born early, and I'm alive. That's the miracle He gave when my parents prayed."
"Are you sure your parents didn't just say, 'As long as You let her live?'" she asked.
Anger erupted inside me. My parents' instruction was the foundation of my faith. How could she tear that foundation down by questioning their faith? She didn't even know them! I was deeply troubled. What if all that my parents had taught me was wrong? What if I was not really a Christian? What if my parents had never really prayed with faith for my healing? I consulted my pastor, my uncle, my professors... I even started reading the Bible excessively, searching desperately for the truth about healing. In April, I summoned my courage to ask God to heal me. I became convinced that I had heard a promise in my mind, and I began to believe that He would heal me in time. I tried to believe that healing could come at any time, but I struggled with feelings of disappointment and doubt. In July, 1991, I discovered the passage in the ninth chapter of John where Jesus tells the disciples that the reason that a man was born blind was so that the work of God could be displayed in him. I knew that Jesus had then heale the man, but I tried to content myself with the idea that the work of God did not have to be healing. It could be anything that brought other people into His Kingdom. However, when I lost my vision that year, I began to find reading the Bible very difficult, especially when it led to reading about someone who had been healed. My idea for self-soothing had failed.
Why would God want me to be blind? Why wouldn't He want the best for me? Why would He want me to have a disability which would prevent me from accomplishing tasks that other people take for granted--a disability which forced me into a role of dependence on other people who, more often than not, would rather not be bothered or who treat me as an inferior being worthy only of pity and patronizing compliments about how brave I am? And if this wasn't what He wanted for me, then why did He allow it? He is my Father. Wouldn't every father in his right mind want the very best for his child?
As I asked myself these questions during the weeks following the reappearance of the gray curtain, I continued attending classes at Anderson University, where I was preparing for music ministry. Strangely, one of my classes was called "Christian Understanding of Human Experience." Taught by Don Collins, the campus pastor, sessions often felt more like a large discussion group than a class. This was the primary reason why I enjoyed the class. On October 23, the discussion met me where I was.
"Why should we believe in God?" Don asked. The room was silent--most of us were still thinking about the subject matter academically. Don was not. He began to tell us about a former student who had dome into his office one day with a complaint. She could not concentrate in her Bible class. He asked if anything important had happened to her recently.
"How did you know?" she asked. She began to tell him her story. While walking to the grocery store, her father was hit by a drunk driver. At the hospital, she prayed, believing what several verses promise: that whatever she asked in Jesus' name she would receive.
Her father died.
"I really don't believe there is a God," she told Don.
Tears filled my eyes, and I fought to keep them inside. I began to shake uncontrollably, and I heard no more of the discussion. I knew only that I understood why she had been struggling. Why did God take away my remaining vision when I had prayed specifically for healing? It wasn't enough that I didn't get healed. He had to take away the little I had. What kind of God was this that I devoted my life to? Was He even there?
On January 23, 1992, I decided to tell God once and for all how I felt. I had been attempting to read through the New Testament, but it seemed that every time I began reading, I was reading about people who had been healed. By this day, I had finally had enough. Was healing available today or not? If not, then I didn't want to read about it. If so, then I didn't want to believe in a God who obviously didn't think I was good enough to deserve it. I threw down my braille Bible and started typing in my journal file on my computer. I unleashed all the desires I had hidden for the previous six months while trying to convince myself that God would use me as I was and that the desire for healing was a stumbling block placed in the way of my spiritual growth by Satan. I released all the pain which had been building since the doctor's admission that he didn't believe that lowering the pressure in my eye would lead to the return of my vision.
The desire won't leave me, Lord. I don't know why. I don't know whether it is a stumbling block or not. I don't want to focus on it--I have been over this and over it and over it before; what else can I say? But I have to ask You for it. ... I remember writing in April that I heard You say You would heal me. Please don't let me hear in vain. Tell me I didn't hear wrong. This IS the desire of my heart, and it will not leave me. ... I want to believe You can do this. I really do. I want You to do it, if You will. I don't know how much faith I have in Your ability to do it.
Immediately after writing those words, I lifted up my head--and gasped. How could my mind play such evil tricks on me? Or had my roommate really left the reading light on over her desk? I crossed the room and held my hand under the lamp. It was warm.
Unsure whether to be excited or confused, I called Angi at the campus box office, where she was working for the afternoon. "I don't know what to think of this," I told her.
After I finished the story, Angi suggested that I accompany her to a Bible study led by the pastor of her small Charismatic church. Although I was not entirely comfortable with aCharismatic churches, I agreed to go, thinking that perhaps I could gain some understanding of what was happening to me.
We arrived at the pastor's home after dark. I approached the house hesitantly. As I neared the door, I saw a light in the window. Just like the lights in the hallway at the hospital, that lamp showed me that I was not dreaming. God had answered my doubt by building my faith. Over the next few days, my vision continued to improve. By January 26, it was once again useful for locating doorways and large objects which could serve as landmarks. Over the next few months, I experienced periods of extreme light sensitivity which were followed by clearing of my vision. After each of these periods I would notice that there were a few minor improvements in what I could see. One evening in April, I identified the color pink, something which I had not done since childhood. In May, 1992, I saw the doctor again. Despite the improvements in my vision, my pressure remained dangerously high. I was referred to a glaucoma specialist in Houston who confirmed this fact. "You need to have surgery as soon as possible," he stated flatly. Shocked, I questioned him. "But my vision is fine," I protested. "With your pressure at this level," he acknowledged gravely, "you could lose that vision at any time." The surgery was done one week later, on June 8. It was supposed to be a measure which preserved my remaining vision. The doctor did not anticipate improvement. My vision improved.
... On that day in January, 1992, when I was praying, I started writing again after I saw Angi's light on. I wrote about recognizing that I had a lack of faith, and I wrote about my feelings and questions concerning how I would explain things to people if/when God healed me. Then I wrote, "I feel something in my left eye for the first time..." To be honest, I actually attributed this to feel-good mentality, something like the placebo effect. I wanted God to heal both eyes, so I "felt something." And I dismissed the experience.
Well, after my surgery in June, my right eye was patched for a few days. No big deal except that I kept seeing light and even some very large objects. I tried hard to write that off, but I knew I couldn't see well enough to be seeing out from under the bandage. That left only two answers. Either I was crazy, or I had vision in my left eye. The eye hadn't been examined when I was a little girl unless it was painful, but it was well documented that I had never seen out of it. However, beginning in 1994, I had fairly consistent results with light and object perception in the doctor's office. In 2000, when they took my stitches out after the first cornea transplant, my right eye was patched again with tape all around. The nurse brought a wheelchair in, but I thought she hadn't gotten it yet. But I pointed to it and asked, "Is that my chair?" And I got up and got in it.
My old childhood eye reports say that my left retina is completely detached. Six months ago, I had a scan of both eyes which showed partial attachment in both eyes. This week at the doctor's office, I saw hand motions better with the left eye than with the right. He's wanting to see my scan and Dr. Trese's report before making a tecision.
I understand now that what happened to me is real and that I have a verifiable change shown in medical evaluations.
There are areas of my life where I need to take my bitterness of soul to God. I am very aware of this. My health is not one of them at the moment. Why? Because I have already done it and God has already demonstrated to me His faithfulness to me. In fact, I spent most of last year doing just that: praying bitterly about migraines and weird symptoms. Most of this isn't in the journals--it was done on days when I was too sick to write. But God has been very firm with me about the issue of faith. I cannot continue to expect Him to spoon-feed me. I must grow mature in my faith, and that means taking risks and trusting even when I would rather doubt and throw a tantrum. That means persevering. I may not like it; but I was never promised an easy life.
How does all of this relate to the seizures--or whatever I should call them? I want an answer because I want the security of knowing that I won't have to argue with a doctor in the future in the event that I need a medication change for these symptoms. Obviously I'm not going to get the answer right now. I don't know why. I know that certain things are happening because of my search for answers. I am being forced to determine that I can't let the rest of the world's opinions determine who I am. If I know in my heart that I am emotionally/mentally healthy, I can't let the rest of the world say that I am unhealthy simply because they don't know why I'm having these symptoms. If I know that there is an answer to be found somewhere--and in my heart I do--then I need to wait for it to be revealed. And it will be in whatever time it's supposed to be.
Maybe some people may think it's crazy that I talk about waiting, that I'm not struggling with God now. I know it's ok to struggle... I talked above about Hannah taking her bitterness of sould to Him. There are other areas of life where I need to do this, other areas where I need to learn to wait and I'm not so willing.How can I do this now in this area of life? Faith is a gift, and it is a gift He gave to me in 1992. At least, that was the beginning. There have been many times when I struggled after that initial experience, wondering why the healing of my eyes was not complete and seeking answers to questions about the relationship of disability and spirituality. I don't have all the answers now, but I do hear the still, small voice that tells me the truth: that He made me and loves me and can use me with or without my disabilities, with or without money, with or without any family of my own. I am most comfortable accepting the disabilities aspect of this truth. It is the one I have wrestled the most with. It's time to lay it down, chart what I can chart, wait for the answers, and move on to other areas of life where God is waiting for me to grow. I'm not angry with Him for not providing the answer or not healing me. I hope that He will, and I do pray for it. But I need Him and I need His peace. Anger does not comfort me; and comfort is what I want right now.