This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Tag: grace

Jehovah-rapha, my God who heals

Psalm 16:6 “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

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God reveals himself by many names in scripture. Each strange, foreign-sounding Hebrew name reveals to us something of his nature, so that we can know him better. I have known him by many names that show him to be sovereign, master, teacher, and all-mighty. Now I know Him as Jehovah-rapha, the God who heals. Jehovah-rapha has healed my son.

 

He was 17 years old that day when he came home from school exhausted and went straight to bed. When he awoke, he was no longer the same. My vibrant, full of life son with the twinkle in his eye and the laughter in his spirit would not return to me for almost 2 years.

 
IMG_2416After weeks of languishing with fatigue and other symptoms, he was diagnosed with POTS – postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, a disease of the autonomic nervous system that prevented his blood from traveling against gravity back up to his heart and his brain. It affected everything from his ability to focus, to his ability to fall asleep or wake up and feel alert, to his internal thermostat, to his digestion, and required a cocktail of 7 different medications, as well as a strictly controlled diet of salt and liquid intake. Exercise was a key part of the wellness protocol, even though those living with POTS struggle even to get out of bed, let alone exercise.

 

Did I happen to mention that he also lives with type 1 diabetes?

 

About a month after his POTS diagnosis, I came across this passage from Ezekiel in the course of my Bible reading:

Ezekiel 37:1-6 “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. And I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.”

 

I knew the passage, and the promise of restoration that it has meant to the people of Israel at the time of its first writing and at various times throughout their history. I remembered that it was the scripture that the Jewish remnant had read at the Masada in 73AD when they took their own lives so the Romans would not be able to slaughter or enslave them.

 

But on this day, the words rang loud in my ears with a different sort of promise. A promise of healing in this life, not just in resurrection life.

 

I remembered that a friend of mine who is in the medical field had told me that the autonomic nervous system affected “just about everything that wasn’t the bones,” so when I read this passage about bones coming back to life because everything surrounding the bones had been restored, it caught my attention!

 

“Is this a word from you, God? Is this You speaking directly to me about my son through the pages of your scripture? Are You telling me he will be healed?” These were the questions that raced through my mind that cold December morning.

 

Over the following days and weeks as I prayed about what this might mean, God seemed to confirm to my spirit that yes, He would heal my son. I didn’t know when. Would it be in a year? In 5 years? During my lifetime? I didn’t know. Would my son be able to finish the school year? Would he be able to go to college? I had no answers to those questions either. But God seemed to be assuring me to trust Him in this.

 

unnamed-2And so I trusted. And I cared for my son as I waited and watched. And I cried when he couldn’t get out of bed. And I fought for understanding and for academic accomodations at his school. And my godly friends supported me when I could stand no longer.

 

And slowly, he began to heal. Yet, every baby step forward seemed to be followed by a giant step backward. Like the concussion he sustained just when he was getting back on a good academic footing. Or breaking his wrist, just as he was able to find the energy for greater athletic pursuits. Or eventually needing surgery on his wrist, resulting in many weeks of missed exercise and the fear of a return of symptoms.

 

In the fullness of time, God did heal my son. I don’t know why He chose in this situation to break through the veil separating heaven from earth and do the miraculous in the life of someone in such need of a touch from Him. Why did He heal this time and yet so many times it seems our prayers for healing fall on deaf ears?

 

We are taught to pray in faith for God to do big things, and yet we temper our prayers with small expectations, knowing that we deserve nothing from Him. This blessing of healing was not deserved, it was a gift of grace, a manifestation of the undeserved favor of God resting on us. But, whether God chose to heal my son or not bears no reflection on His love for me. Or for my son. That was settled once and for all on Calvary.

 

This healing was all grace. Pure grace.

 

And my heart sings with praise for Jehovah-rapha who has dealt bountifully with me.

 

 

Gift from Heaven

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Lamentations 3:22-23

 

I awoke this morning to a world blanketed in snow.

 

Not the thick, heavy duvet cover of last month’s blizzard. Not the kind you are forewarned of and prepared for. Not the kind of snow that falls relentlessly for days on end.

 

This morning’s snow was a surprise. And it was all the more lovely because no one had anticipated it. It was a gift from heaven. Like manna was to the children of Israel.

 

My blanket of white wouldn’t last long. It couldn’t last. The crystal clear blue sky was promise enough of that.

 

But it was mine for the moment. To relish or to let pass by. The choice was mine to make.

 

Would I see the beauty in this moment or would I see instead the inconvenience of a 2-hour school delay? Would this simply become an intrusion on my tightly scheduled day where I was focused on preparing my family to travel out of state to be with friends for the weekend? How would I respond to this morning’s surprise?

 

His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.

 

On our drive to school this morning, my 16-year old daughter gave voice to her response to this unanticipated gift of beauty. It was more than a whisper, but too reverent and drawn out for a simple statement of fact. Perhaps it was a prayer of praise to the Artist who gave us this gift. “Oh goodness,” she said, “it’s so beautiful.”

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Mornings like this are a gift. A gift of beauty. A gift of grace. I can pass it by without really noticing or stopping to think about it, and it will evaporate. I can kid myself that I will think about it later. That I will enjoy the splendor later. But if I don’t stop in the moment and make a little altar, and give thanks and give praise, then this gift of grace will melt away, even as this new-fallen snow will melt away, and the memory of it will be no more, and the opportunity to stop and worship will have passed me by. And the opportunity for my fingers and my spirit to touch heaven, while my feet are touching earth will have passed me by. If I want to live connected to the Kingdom of God here on earth, I need to open my eyes and see each of these moments as the gift of grace that they are.

 

And so I too stop, and give praise to the ultimate Creator of all beauty. This is not just a gift of beauty and wonder for my eyes to behold this morning. It is a gift of mercy. You alone, oh God, know how my heart needed this touch of your creative power today. It will sustain me like manna all the day long.

 

In the distance, the trees are already shaking off their heavy white coats, trading them for gossamer gowns of silver that sparkle in the sunlight. I know it is only a matter of time before the silvery streams also melt away and the bare trees stand once again proud and strong in their gray-black winter coverings.

 

But this day I have paused to feast at God’s table in the early morning hours. And He has sustained me in His great love.

 

His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness Lord, unto me.

 

 

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