It was a freak accident. The energetic, talented nineteen-year-old decided to try a back flip and landed wrong. The impact snapped his C2 vertebra, instantly paralyzing him from the neck down.
In the aftermath of Kevin’s injury, his family and many faithful friends prayed hard and often for his healing — and they started to see some miracles.
Having sustained the same injury as actor Christopher Reeves did years ago, Kevin should be on a ventilator 24 hours a day. He should not be able to move on his own.
Yet Kevin is off the ventilator during his waking hours. He can manipulate the controls on his special wheelchair and work at his computer. He can even walk a bit. And he continues to make incremental improvements.
Miraculous! And yet …
It’s been nearly twenty years since the accident. Kevin and his family have embraced the mystery of God’s ways, of this partial healing, of how glory comes to Jesus sometimes through healing, and sometimes through adversity.
(Read their story here: Song in the Night. )
We always want the healing part, don’t we? We want to see our friends and family — and ourselves — free from suffering.
We want Jesus to wave his magic wand and make the hard stuff go away.
When it comes to suffering, God does one of two things: He either restores us, or he redeems our suffering. Often enough, as in Kevin’s case, he weaves together restoration and redemption like two threads in a breath-taking tapestry.
We need to embrace both of these eventualities — restoration and redemption — as good things
As believers, we will one day receive whole bodies that will never disappoint us again. Ultimately, physical healing is what’s happening –permanently– for all of us.
It’s the “in the meantime” that we have to deal with.
So when your friend or loved one has endured many medical tests and doctors can’t find the answer, when the pain and limitations just won’t go away, when the healing doesn’t come and you wonder what God is up to, how can you pray?
See, there’s a “both-and” tension between these two truths:
- God does miracles, he is pleased with our faith, and we should ask him for healing. And …
- God uses human suffering to accomplish transformation in us and bring glory to himself.
Please do pray for your love one’s healing, and exercise your faith muscles as you do. At the same time, avoid praying according to personal assumptions or other people’s prescriptions.
You have the mind of Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You can ask him how to pray!
Here are a few ways you can focus on God’s redemptive purposes in the life of a suffering person. Pray:
- That God’s name would be glorified in and through your friend’s circumstances.
- For perseverance to have its perfect work in them.
- For opportunities for them to minister and testify to others (doctors, nurses, other patients, etc.).
- That their faith would not falter but rather increase because of adversity.
- That their physical limitations would open up time and space for a deeper relationship with God.
- For daily moments of joy.
- For fresh hope when the journey makes them weary.
This list is not comprehensive; it’s just meant to launch you into new realms of faith-filled prayer.
Kevin and his family have seen many answers to prayer — some for restoration, some for redemption. One day, I believe they will each hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” as they stand before Jesus himself.
In that moment, it won’t matter if Kevin didn’t receive a complete healing during his earthly life.
What will matter is all that God redemptively accomplished through him.