I don’t have a headache this morning. If you saw me yesterday, you’d realize what a huge miracle that is. I’ve had a more-or-less constant headache for… weeks? months? I don’t even know any more. Yesterday, it was so overwhelming that I found myself in tears more than once. I have four different kinds of medication I can take as a “rescue” for a migraine. Across the past few weeks, I’ve used every one at one time or another, and none has worked for more than a few hours. Yesterday, I took my very expensive and very new medication. It’s supposed to work within two hours and eliminate the headache for days. It did nothing.
With my chronic pain disorder, I’ve had flare-ups like this before. Even without a flare, every day is a challenge. There are people with my disorder who are unable to work, socialize, or even carry out basic self-care routines. Yet here I am, holding down one paid and one unpaid job, hanging out with friends a couple of times a week, and helping around the house. I praise God that He has given me the wherewithal to persevere through the pain.
I know that it is by God’s favor that I can do all that I do. He has provided me with employment that allows me flexible hours, so that I can rest as needed. He has given me a team at work and a team at 5twelve who pray for me and encourage me along the way. He has given me an amazing, competent, compassionate husband and a daughter who delights in helping her mom when things get bad. He has given me opportunities to share my story and encourage people who are living through pain, redeeming the pain for His glory.
Despite my intellectual understanding that God’s favor has provided all these things, I find myself almost panicked on days like yesterday. I went to my friends Sheila and Kasey and asked for prayer for healing. I confessed that I find it very hard to pray for myself. They laid their hands on me and prayed fervently for healing and restoration. For the next 15 minutes, I was almost pain-free. Then the pain settled in on me again. I was chatting with my friend Melissa, and she asked if she could pray for me. Again, she laid her hands on my and prayed, binding the pain in the name of Jesus. I felt a tremendous weight just lift from my shoulders. For almost an hour, I felt this amazing rest and peace and relief. And then the pain descended once more.
In the afternoon, after a nap, I got a text from Sheila. Here’s some of our conversation:
Sheila: How are you feeling?
Me: The pain is milder now, after a nap, but still pretty punishing…. Sheila, what am I doing wrong? When prayer doesn’t help, where else do I turn?
Sheila: My dear sister in Christ!… I will continue to pray! But I don’t think it is what you are doing wrong but what does God want to do through you at your weakest point. Are you willing to go to your knees?
Sheila: Save this text… you will need to send it back to me at some point! I am going to my knees with you!
Me: Okay! Thank you, sweet friend.
That minute, I sank to my knees (hearing them complain as they hit the floor). I begged God to relieve the pain. I prayed gratitude and praise, and I asked God to heal me. Before bed, I was on my knees again. This morning, I woke, and then found myself there on my knees again, thanking God that I wasn’t in excruciating pain.
And right now, I don’t have a headache. I know I’ll find myself on my knees again today. Do I feel 100%? No, I can still feel that “migraine hangover” feeling that threatens that the pain could come back. But do I feel God’s presence and His promise of healing and restoration? Absolutely.
During one of the times I was on my knees, God lit up one of the phrases from yesterday’s sermon by Brian Alarid. He said, “Intimacy creates favor.” I’ve always had trouble praying for myself, especially for healing. I think part of it is that I’m afraid that I’ll pray, and God won’t heal me. What would that mean about God? What would that do to my faith? By resisting praying for myself, I’ve been holding God at arm’s length. I’ve been avoiding intimacy with Him. As I prayed last night, I felt Him saying, “Dear one, I’m holding you close. Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you.”
When you long for healing, or peace, or restoration of a relationship, or God’s favor in your circumstances, remember that intimacy creates favor. Draw near to Him, and listen for His voice. Remember that that intimacy is a greater treasure than any other blessing that comes from prayer. Seek His face first, and then seek His favor. That order could make all the difference.
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