I am on my second round of antibiotics for a sore throat that has been with me on and off for three weeks now. The whole family has been sick with it, but even so the tenacity and virulence of this bug is pretty amazing.
The first round did its job well, or so I thought, but while visiting my mom last week the soreness came back with a vengeance. My parents' good friend, who is staying with them, suggested we pray over my throat and I happily agreed. I believe in healing. I know if God wanted to, He could have rid me of that sore throat in that very instant.
But for some reason He never wants to. I remember when I was suffering a severe case of hyperemesis with my second pregnancy and another family friend with the gift of healing laid hands on me and prayed that God would cure me of the debilitating nausea. As he prayed with confidence that I would be healed, I asked him, "Why are you so sure that God wants to take this away?"
He looked surprised, and answered, "Because God doesn't like people to suffer."
Except me, I guess. Needless to say, my hyperemesis continued unabated another 10 weeks until I was fully into my 5th month of pregnancy. Which leaves me wondering, "Why doesn't God ever want to heal me of physical suffering?"
I think it's partly because I don't need the miracle. It wouldn't help my faith to be healed, and it wouldn't help my husband find faith, either. I read somewhere that God worked miracles to help people believe. Well, I already believe. In fact, it might negatively impact my faith, given how tied I am to the more physical aspects of faith like almsgiving and public worship. Perhaps God wants me to continue on in my faith without any miracles. Is that a lesson I need to learn?
Or could it be that I need the suffering? It's hard to imagine how I (or my family) could NEED 20 weeks of torture. My hyperemesis was hard on everyone -- on my mother who nursed me full time and took care of my son as well, on my husband who lived alone in our home and saw me only for 10 minutes a day, on my son who had very little interaction with me while I was ill, and on me, too. Throwing up multiple times a day, enduring IVs for deyhdration every three days, intense and constant nausea and the sheer boredom of being able to do nothing but lay in bed and watch bad daytime TV certainly qualifies as torture in my book.
I needed all that? Really? I needed a trip to the emergency room last Friday at 3 am after I almost passed out while trying to take some medicine for my throat? What greater good is being served here?
But I know that one is. Perhaps God wants to show me the importance of family. I complain about them too much, really. My attitude could use a good adjustment. Sometimes I don't want to be around them, and I'm sure they sometimes feel the same way about me. But none of that matters. I am still called by God to love them, L.O.V.E love them and honor them and keep them close to me, no matter what. Perhaps God was using the hyperemesis to teach me unconditional love. My family showed me unconditional love by taking care of me even when at my worst, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Can I do less than return that to them? God loves me with all my faults. Should I do less for my family?
And, too, perhaps it's not all about me. I offered up my sore throat for those without medical care. When I had to go to the ER in the middle of the night, my mom was there to drive me. We had three hospitals to choose from, all less than 20 minutes away. I had my antibiotics within 6 hours, with almost everything paid for by insurance. With all that available, did I really need healing? I also offered up my hyperemesis, but I didn't do a very good job of bearing it cheerfully for those mothers in poor countries who have no maternity care at all. I tried. Somewhat...
God could heal everyone. He has that power. If I am willing to bear a little bit of suffering for someone who truly needs God's healing, isn't the humility, perspective and empathy I gain for others worth more than the joy of being healed? God knows which I need more.