My heart was pounding. Beads of sweat were pouring down my forehead and the back of my neck. I was totally focused on my objective – to walk a mile on the treadmill. My goal each week was to spend at least three days in the gym to improve my health.
A middle-aged woman beside me suddenly interrupted my train of thought, “Boy, this sure does wear you out, doesn’t it?” She was staring at me waiting patiently for a reaction or comment. “Yes, it really does. But you know what they say, no pain, no gain.” A few moments passed. “What happened to you? I mean, I noticed you walk with a cane.” I was asked this question a lot. But telling my story always gave me an opportunity to share what the Lord had done in my life.
“In 1982, my family and I were going to Florida for Thanksgiving when we were hit head-on by a drunk driver. My back was broken, and I was paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors told me I would never walk again, but the Lord intervened and chose to heal me. Today, I am only paralyzed from the knees down, wear leg braces and walk with a cane.” The woman had to think a moment before she responded. “If you pray more, you know, the Lord will completely heal you.” She clearly had a misunderstanding of God’s Word and his promises. But she was sincere, and I had to be careful not to offend or hurt her feelings.
“Ma’am, I have prayed, and God has healed me. Even though I would love to be perfectly ‘able-bodied’ again, apparently that is not God’s will for my life. I rejoice that I am even able to walk. Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, and he has all authority and power to work miracles, but he does not always answer our prayers in the way we may think best! Paul was an apostle and constantly prayed for healing of his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Corinthians 12:7). Just because God did not heal him, does that mean Paul did not pray hard enough? Certainly not. God allowed the thorn in Paul’s life so that he could be glorified somehow through it.”
I had lovingly presented the truth to this woman while at the same time challenging her thinking. That was all I could do. This encounter challenged my own thinking. I went through a range of emotions as I pondered her comment. My body may seem broken to some people, but I am whole. Wholeness is not dependent on circumstances or physical or emotional condition. Wholeness comes from within – from a relationship with Jesus Christ! Every human other than Jesus is broken and cannot be whole unless they have Christ. The comment this woman made to me was evidence of her belief system surrounding God and his goodness. She could not comprehend how God could have left me partially paralyzed if I had really prayed hard enough for healing.
Of course, I prayed for healing but my previous understanding of healing was to be completely normal again physically. That was apparently not God’s plan for my life. I have learned that I must keep this concept in perspective. I must recognize my need for him before he can use my disabled body in it fullness to bring glory to himself. The bottom line is that we are all broken. We are not whole. No matter how good we look on the outside, it is just a shell. So, just like everyone else on the face of this planet, I am broken – but I don’t need fixin.’ Jesus has already done that in my life!
This article was published in THE PLAIN TRUTH magazine in January/February 1999, p. 28. I was a freelance author and wrote this article for the PT Report on Dealing with Disabilities.