As I’ve reflected this week on what miracle I would share with you today, I decided to travel back to my childhood and share another moment when God miraculously changed the course of my life.
My mind drifts back to the child that I was.
Sometimes, in that tiny space between consciousness and sleep, I can even see her, feel her. I can feel her sadness. I can feel her pain, see her longing for health and normalcy. I can feel that all encompassing desire and desperate prayer that my life would not always be as it was.
I am aware of a loneliness so big and so deep, so pervasive and inescapable that it set me apart from life and friends and the whole world like no normal preteen crisis ever could have.
“Dermatomyositis,” I hear the doctor repeat the word that would change my life forever. He repeated it for my parents. He wrote it down for them to see. I can see the word written even now in his sloppy letters, erratic sloping curves like the waves of the tsunami that had just hit my life.
Dermatomyositis, the word echoed in my mind. Fear shot through my eleven year old body like lightning blasts through water.
Dermatomyositis. Steroids. Chemotherapy.
The words fell on unknowing ears. I had no idea what any of the words meant. I could only feel their weight as they seemed to hover in the air, in the space between my hospital bed, my parents and the doctor, somehow harbingers of all that lay ahead for me then. I didn’t know how the disease would take over my life, or how many hours I would spend lying in bed, or being carried from bed to couch, and back again.
The disease began to take on a rhythm of its own that would remain in that same pattern for the next eight years of my life. The spring would somehow bring relief from the burning aching pain of my muscles. I’d begin to be able to sit up for periods of time and take rides in my wheelchair, but with the arrival of fall, the disease would flare again in all of its voracious devestation. I’d spend the winters in bed, barely able to hold my head up, reading every book that found itself in my room, writing in my journal and talking to Jesus.
I remember telling Him over and over again that I knew He could heal me; I knew it as clearly as I knew that I needed a miracle.
At one point the disease had been terribly active for months. I’d been on chemotherapy for over three years in an attempt to reduce the lymphocytes that were attacking my muscles including my heart, with no improvement or reduction in their numbers. The doctors felt they could not leave me on the Cytoxan any longer.
I prayed and prayed and begged God to heal me. One night in particular, I remember lying awake in my bed, completely immobilized by the weakness and pain. Sleep didn’t come. I felt a despair that I couldn’t bear. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to make the medicine work.
The next morning the phone rang. It was Children’s Hospital. The nurse on the other end of the phone said, “We can’t explain it, her lymphocytes have dropped enormously. We’ve never before seen such a dramatic drop in numbers so quickly. I can only say it’s a miracle. I think your daughter should begin to feel better soon.”
I knew, in the deepest part of my heart, that God had heard my prayer and miraculously changed the course of the disease.
It wasn’t the end of the disease for me, but it was a brief respite from the pain, and God had most certainly made Himself real to me. It would take many more years and many more miracles before I could begin to live a normal life, but what God did in one of the darkest moments of my early years with the disease, changed my life forever and was a big part in the process of growing my faith to the place that it is today.
Years later, when I was seventeen, I wrote an essay that speaks to the loneliness and struggle of those years. I share it with you here.
God heard the prayers of the little girl that I was. He intervened to save my life.
And He hears our prayers today.
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