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Hope for Healing

August 27, 2009

Yesterday, I began getting a headache in the evening. Assuming I must be dehydrated, I kept sucking down the water.

Earlier in the day, I had spent some time in the sun. It was 99 degrees outside, so I was pretty sweaty and gross. Since I was so gross, I decided the best follow-up activity would be sweating some more at the gym. Anyone who gets a lot of headaches has probably been told plenty of times that they just need to drink more water. Truth be told, this is the reason that I drink more water than anyone I know. I spend a large percentage of my day swallowing water or using the restroom. (We can safely assume that dehydration is rarely the actual cause of my headaches.) But, I’ve heard it enough that I still assumed my headache that began forming in the evening was due to a drinking failure.

As the night went on and my headache progressed, I realized how much water I had taken in, the frequency with which I needed to empty my bladder, and the reality of how great I felt when I got back from the gym and was in the kitchen, baking. If anything, I might have overdone the water intake for the day.

11:00/midnight rolled around and I started my prayer time, logging into to the blessed prayer room webstream… a lifeline for extended times away. Rose (a beloved part of the extended IHOP-KC family) had surgery coming up within a few hours and there was a lot of emphasis on prayer for healing. And there was A LOT of life on the prayers. I was definitely feeling it, from my little prayer room extension… my bedroom.

Around 1:20, Emily Russell prayed. And that was it. I don’t know what happened, but it was like she cracked something open. I sat weeping on my bed for the next 30 minutes.

Now, crying tends to make my bad headaches worse. (Probably no more than refusing to cry, though.) So it wasn’t looking too good for me and my headache. But I was really dialoguing with the Lord about His desire to heal, His promises to our community, and the promises of scripture. He IS a God who heals.

This might sound weird, but in all of my investigation and searching for my migraine triggers, there is one thing I have noticed that has been terribly consistent (well, kind of two, but I won’t go into the second). You won’t find this trigger listed anywhere that talks about migraine headaches. My “trigger”? Prayer.

The more I have broken my agreement with consistent headaches in my life, the more I have woken up from my place of resigning to it, the more I have asked God to heal me, and the more others have partnered with me in praying for healing… the worse and more frequent they have gotten. Every time I stand for healing prayer in the prayer room or sit in the back row for healing prayer, I am almost guaranteed noticeable backlash in the very near future.

So, as I sat there joining my heart with the prayers of my community and asking the Lord to do what He longs to do, I couldn’t help but laugh at the rapid worsening of my headache.

I don’t understand why it is like that. I definitely don’t fully understand warfare. I’m not OK with the fact that prayer, in essense, seems to make my headaches worse. But I am taking it as evidence that the Lord has finally awakened me to the real battle for my physical healing. He is able to heal me. And I believe that He will. And the “backlash” has given me hope that sickness is desperately fighting against me… grasping on as it ultimately looses its grip on me. I also take it as a sign of hope in my once apathetic and numbed heart. As Moltmann has said: as freedom gets closer, the chains begin to hurt.

By 3 AM, my headache had landed and settled in to its usual loction, right behind my eye. Definitely a migraine.

It was pretty miserable, but not bad enough yet that I couldn’t sleep. It was well after four before I managed to be unconscious, but I did, happily, get a little sleep. A little. Until I finally reached the point where that was impossible.

I spent most of that morning (when I should have been sleeping) pleading with the Lord, trying desperately not to move, and in far too much pain to have any hope of being unconscious. You wouldn’t believe how long I resisted my miserable trip to the bathroom before the desire to NOT wet myself won out. I probably should have let myself throw up at that time. It took a lot of restraint not to. And I might have felt a little better if I had. But I despise vomitting. (As helpful as it sometimes is.)

I returned to my bed, updated my status to ask for prayer, and continued to lay there, pleading with the Lord to do something about the pain.

After some time, sleep came. That in itself felt like a miracle.

I woke up a couple of times to find that I wasn’t in excruciating pain anymore. I would thank the Lord, roll over, and go back to sleep. Such joy!

I finally got out of bed at 2:30. And my head didn’t hurt at all. No, really… not at all. I know migraine headaches can be as short as a few hours, but I can’t say I’ve ever been that fortunate.

I’m usually pretty dizzy and nauseated, with a low-level headache for the day or two after a migraine. But…

I continued through the rest of the day feeling wonderful. As if I hadn’t just suffered through one of my most horrendous migraine headaches. In fact, it didn’t even feel like the day after a migraine. I think twice in the entire day, I felt a little sick/dizzy. But it passed almost immediately and may have been a food thing.

I have never had that happen before. I have never had a headache of that intensity so quickly and completely disappear.

So… my conclusion: prayer works. Thank You, Lord!

As far as I know, that’s the last one. And until I know otherwise, I will continue to live in the hope and possibility that it is.

That’s the tension of waiting for healing. True hope causes you to live every day in the possibility that maybe that’s your day. (Thank you, Leah Morgan, for reminding me of that and helping give me the courage to continue hoping as the circumstances overwhelmed me.) Hope is dangerous. It opens you up to pain (and joy). Because hope deferred truly does make the heart sick. Disappointed hopes are painful because hope is the stubborn resistance to the temptation to be unfeeling and indifferent. Hope like that is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are too weary, without His strength, to continue in the vibrant life that hope awakens.

So, I am still choosing the life of hope. I am leaning on the Holy Spirit, daily being renewed by His life within me. And the God of Hope is filling me with all joy and peace in believing, causing me to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

And I am grateful for His healing power, manifesting itself in the world, in my life.

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