Another truth that will take a lifetime to learn…..I believe those were some of my last words on my last blog post – two years ago. Strangely, that does feel like somewhat of a lifetime ago. Isn’t that always the case when you are learning a hard lesson? I was writing about my Aunt Sarah who died of breast cancer in 1991:
“And the truth is, Sarah did not spend her time believing FOR something. She believed God would heal her, but her faith was not in the healing. Her faith was in the Person who could change her circumstances in a breath. And knowing full well that He just might not do what she was asking. To me, that is the most staggering, mind-blowing, amazing kind of faith. She believed God was going to heal her, but decided that even if he didn’t, she still believed HIM.”
Honestly, my heart learned this truth in a moment. But it’s taken much longer to begin applying this truth to my life and to our journey with Bryce’s heart disease. What I shared in March 2013, was just the beginning of a new walk with the Lord for me. When this profound truth finally dawned on me, my entire perspective began to change. For the first time in years, my relationship with God became less about my needs and prayers and more about Who He is. There were times it felt like an arm wrestle with God. Other times I have been ashamed to feel like a teenager storming into my bedroom and slamming the door. But mostly, it’s been a moment in life where I’ve been still and letting myself truly understand for the first time just how good He really is. Even when the healing isn’t quick. When the wound continues to go deeper. And understanding never comes. HE IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL.
I have never once questioned, “why us?” when it came to Bryce inheriting heart disease. I shudder when I hear people ask that question. Because why NOT you? Why NOT me? None of us are immune to hard times and sickness.
During Erik’s illness in 2002-2003, literally hundreds of people prayed on our behalf that our children would be delivered from the curse of heart disease. This was my daily prayer as well. And at one point, I honestly thought I heard God clearly say that my children would be spared. I finally stopped asking for it and just started joyfully and whole-heartedly thanking the Lord for my kids’ healing.
Then my towers fell. We found out Bryce wasn’t delivered. He wasn’t healed. I had heard wrong. Or I only heard what I wanted to hear. Not only was he diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at the age of 8, but now we were looking at a heart transplant in his late teens or early twenties.
Suddenly I felt very silly. I felt tricked and I thought that every precious moment I had spent with the Lord had been false. A joke. He must have been embarrassed for me as I poured out my heart believing such a wrong thing. Did the angels roar with laughter?
I cringe to admit the depths of despair I discovered in myself. But my thinking was so off base! And man was the devil more than happy to start singing that song all day everyday – what a fool you are, Jennie! You imagined it all! There is no real intimacy with God, sucker.
First let me say with fervor and complete repentance…..It is a VERY dangerous thing to make any assumption about something God is saying that doesn’t come straight out of the Bible. Yes, I believe He speaks to me in intimate ways that are not printed on the page. But when you start believing something like “my son is healed because God said”, you have to readjust your thinking. This is exactly where I got stuck – for a very, very long time. The truth that Aunt Sarah taught me (that took 20 years to sink in) was that I was trusting in the healing and not the Healer. I had to come to the place where even if He doesn’t heal Bryce, I’m still going to trust in God and know that he is always good and always faithful. No matter what.
In September 2014, we got excellent news at Bryce’s doctor’s appointment. The echocardiogram showed that his heart was less enlarged than it had been and that he appeared to be growing into his heart. We had never heard news like that before. The doctor was cautious, but extremely happy with the results. The first thing I always do when Bryce and I leave Children’s in Dallas is call my mother. Her reaction was what you would expect. She said, “Well, praise the Lord!”
In that moment I felt such conviction because of my reactions on the countless prior occasions when the news had not been good….and I thought, “Yes, but praise Him anyway!” That was when the real experience happened for me and when I finally started applying Sarah’s truth to my life.
Yes, praise the Lord that Bryce is growing into his heart. But even if he wasn’t, praise the Lord! Again, conviction flowed out of me and the repentance I felt in my heart was overwhelming. I asked God again and again to forgive my lack of faith in the last several years of dealing with this and I thanked Him for His patience in teaching me and giving me the time and strength to finally get it.
In March of this year, we got more good news. Once again the echocardiogram showed that his heart was less enlarged but also, it was functioning better. In other words, the 3 medications Bryce has been taking were doing exactly what they were supposed to – allowing his heart to function better.
And the absolutely best part – for the first time ever a cardiologist said MAYBE Bryce wouldn’t need a transplant down the road. I just cried and laughed. And cried.
When I called my parents on the way home to tell them the news, they were in tears. Just weeks before, they had attended a prayer meeting and prayed specifically for Bryce and against the curse of hereditary heart disease. This was their answered prayer. This was the healing.
My heart rejoices every day that we got that good news. It was such a relief to hear the medicine was working and I felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders. Is Bryce healed? I don’t know. And I might not know until the other side of Heaven. And you know what – that’s okay!
I’m going to praise the Lord today and tomorrow. I’m going to praise the Lord when we get good news and when we get bad news. Because He is the same no matter what. He didn’t bring the sickness. He didn’t create it or ordain it. We live in a sad and fallen world and people are always going to get sick. But He has a purpose and a plan for us and nothing can change or alter that.
My journey is not over. Understanding and learning about what God says about healing may always be one of the most fascinating things to me. Maybe because I’ve seen it go both ways many, many times. There is no explanation. There is no pattern. There is no magic formula or scripture. And I have decided to cut my humanity some slack and realize it will NEVER make complete sense to me.
But HE NEVER CHANGES. He is always good. Oh friend, if you are going through anything like this I encourage you to press in to Him. Even when you don’t want to – actually, ESPECIALLY if you don’t want to. He will reveal Himself to you in precious ways, and with the peace that surpasses your understanding. Don’t be hard-headed and rebellious like I was. Let the truth set you free earlier rather than later.
I don’t know why I waited so long to share this. I think it might be because Bryce just graduated from high school and is registering for classes and looking for apartments in another city. He’s healthy. He’s happy. He’s embarking on a new chapter in his life. And maybe I thought this was a good time for me to do the same.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.