For the last two months, I’ve been sitting down to put my socks on because of back pain. I’m 31.
I don’t know why it started hurting, but I could barely bend over or lift anything over 20 pounds, including my kids. I stopped running for fear of exacerbating the issue.
After two rounds of muscle relaxers, Prednisone, and a physical therapy session, it still hurt.
At the end of one particularly excruciating day of pain, I laid down for the night and did something I’ve never done before: I asked God to heal me*.
I told him that healing my back was nothing for the God who upholds the universe. That I was in pain and didn’t want to be any longer. That I wanted to wrestle my kids. And that if he chose not to heal me, I would be OK with that, too.
Then I said one more thing (and I think this was the most important part of the prayer): I told God that if he healed my back, I would glorify him by telling people he did it.
So, here we go: God healed my back.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. So let me answer the “Yeah, but’s…”
“God didn’t have to heal you to be glorified.” That’s true. Healing is not the only way that God gets glory. He is also be glorified through suffering. Those who point to Christ in the midst of chronic pain bring glory to God in powerful ways. I think that’s the method of glorification God most often works through. I don’t expect God to heal me from every headache or virus. But in this case, he chose to heal me.
“You were on medication. Wasn’t it just the drugs doing their job?” Maybe. God certainly could have worked through the medicine I was taking. His methods are up to him. All I know is that I had been on the drugs for close to two weeks with no change until I prayed. Maybe the medicine started working simultaneously with my prayer, but even that takes a leap of faith to believe.
“What if the pain comes back?” I’ve thought about this. The day I woke up and realized the pain was gone, I thanked God for relieving me of it, even if it was for one day. It doesn’t really matter if the pain comes back today or tomorrow. That doesn’t change the fact that God heard my prayer and responded with mercy and kindness.
One of my favorite devices is my Garmin running watch. It’s equipped with GPS, which means it tracks my exact mileage and pace, among other things. As you probably know, GPS stands for “Global Positioning Satellite”. When we use GPS on a phone, watch, or another device, it sends a signal to a satellite orbiting the earth, notifying it to turn in the direction of the device. It does this to register your location.
One morning, I pushed the start button on my watch to track my run. As I started galloping up to speed, I was reminded of Psalm 144, which I had read just minutes earlier:
O Lord, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
Just like the tiny device on my wrist triggered a satellite thousands of miles away to take notice of me, the God of the universe turns his attention to his children when they pray. That reality is confounding, mysterious, incredible, and tender.
I’m so insignificant in the scheme of the universe. As the same psalm says, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Yet the God of all creation still stops, looks, and listens to me when I call on him.
I tell my kids that the difference between our God and the false gods of the world is that when we pray to our God, he hears us. And not only does he hear us, he answers.
*My prayer was not the only one God heard. My family and coworkers had also been praying for God to heal my back. Their prayers were also answered. And I’m certain that their prayers in some way amplified my request to the Father.