The pastor of our church recently commented on how he was preaching in a couple weeks on healing. He simply requested that if we had any stories of healing that we pass them on. I replied, “but what about stories where healing didn’t occur?” Through his deer-in-headlights expression, he hesitantly asked what I meant.
I just mean that if all you tell people are stories of complete healing that perhaps you are sending the wrong message. Yes, God wants us to pray for healing, but that doesn’t mean he always heals in the way that we think he ought to and by only giving examples where complete healing occurred it might make one feel inadequate if there is an alternate outcome – like their prayers weren’t good enough…that they weren’t good enough. Sometimes, God chooses to work though sickness, through imperfection and through suffering.
8 years ago, I prayed for healing. Or I prayed for something to not be there that I knew was. We all do that, don’t we? We feel a lump and pray it’s nothing. We have a blood test and pray it’s nothing.
The contractions came slow in the early morning. I ran my errands, took care of my two-year-old son and made dinner for my family, my mom and my in-laws. By the end of the meal, the discomfort had become pain and I knew it was real. “We’ll go after Ben has finished teaching his guitar lessons.”
We arrived at the hospital and I was ten centimeters, but she was stuck. After an hour and half of possibly the worst pain I will ever know in my life, she came. They laid her in my arms and I was enraptured by her tiny frame. I gazed into her almond shaped, charcoal coloured eyes that were struggling to stay open and I knew.
I told the nurse my suspicions. She said, “Well, usually babies with Down syndrome have a single crease across their palm.” She opened Ella’s tiny little fist and there it was…
“It’s probably nothing.”
My heart knew but I prayed and prayed that it was nothing. I prayed that God would take it away – that he would take the extra chromosome away and that my little girl would be perfect. I prayed and I prayed and I promised Ella, that no matter what happened, I would take care of her. I was so thankful for those extra days in hospital with just my little girl. In the quiet of the room, we cuddled, I cried and I prayed.
Like so many other stories, the story of Ella’s first days yearns for redemption, for a happy ending. We want to hear stories about how our prayers are answered in the way that we think they should be answered but that didn’t happen in this story and yet, this story is not an unhappy one. It’s true, there was grief, but only in mourning the way that I thought life should be – my life and hers. There is also something theologically wrong with this story and that is in the assumption that Ella needs healing. This was my mistake. God made her just the way she is for a reason. I truly believe that God has used, is using and will use Ella for His glory, just as he does with so many other scenarios that don’t go the way we think they ought to. Ella, even in her eight short years, has touched far more lives than many do in a lifetime.
But how do I sum up 8 years in one blog post. As she sat at the table eating her customary after-Girl-Guides bowl of Cheerios tonight, on the eve of her birthday, I was struck by what a wonder Ella is. So much can be summed up in this, but I’ll let photos do the rest of the talking in this space.
Happy 8th Birthday my Big Girl!