Monday, June 08, 2009

The Wrong Question


Three nights ago God woke me out of a sound sleep with a Word. Actually, five words. Spoken in a precise, loud sentence--a sentence that reverberated in me as I lay in bed. And reverberates within me still.

Many of you know about my healing from Lyme Disease six years ago. (If you haven't read the story, you can click the link "My Healing" above.) In the space of an hour that day six years ago I went from crippled to completely well. A true New Testament healing.

That testimony has been on my Web site ever since, and people all over the world have read it. I've received many e-mails as a result from people who are fighting that terrible disease or some other. Many have asked me to pray for them, and I've added their names to my prayer card. As a result of that healing within me, God has since given me a healing prayer ministry of my own.

Last fall I began feeling tired. It crept up little by little. By January I was really fighting something. I thought maybe it was underactive thyroid. I was exhausted, falling into depression (which is not typically a problem with me). In later February I tanked. My ability to think went away. I tried to laugh about it--saying my brain was on dial-up. Writing a blog post, e-mail, anything meant staring at the screen, trying to remember what it was I'd been trying to do. My speech would stop mid-sentence, as I couldn't think of a very simple word. I couldn't get through the day without lots of rest. My neck didn't want to hold up my head. Weird.

Thyroid tests came back normal. Then one day the old symptoms hit--the aching muscles, arthritic joints, burning on the bottom of my feet, week knees, a tippiness to my body. Running had been long out of the question. Now I was having trouble walking.

I knew it--I'd gotten Lyme again.

I went for tests, and everything wrong happened. After waiting for weeks for results, I found the doctor hadn't ordered a complete set of tests, and I had to go through the process all over again. But I knew. There is no feeling in the world like Lyme enervation, Lyme pain. I knew those symptoms.

I went to Mount Hermon, where I was scheduled to teach a mentoring clinic in the mornings. I didn't know how I would manage the walking. Or thinking to teach. I asked God for a miracle to get me through. During the conference the director asked for prayer for me. Mt. Hermon, as well as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), had been a major part of praying for my healing six years ago. I'd expected to attend Mt. Hermon and say nothing to anyone, since technically I didn't know for sure. I didn't have test results yet. But God outed me through the director's announcement, asking for prayer for me.

Man, did I cringe when that word got out. I didn't want people to know. What was I supposed to tell them? God had so miraculously healed me of the same disease six years ago. Why would I get it again?

Now I see that God wanted those dear people at the conference to pray for me. And pray they did. A few came up to me and prayed for me privately--God-sent individuals.

During the conference I became stronger. I did my morning classes fine, then rested in the cabin the entire rest of the day (except for lunch and dinner, when I had to host a table.) I went to no night meeting, did no hanging out with anyone. Just rested. (Except for the final night--the book signing, when I gave Hissy back to Deb. Heh-heh.)

After Mt. Hermon I received the test results. Positive. Different tests showed I had quite a high germ load. I was going to have another difficult battle. Sure enough, I went downhill again. Trouble walking, trouble thinking. I went to the doc to start treatment and came out so depressed. Not until that appointment did I realize how bad I'd become. I could barely follow simple directions he gave me as tests for my body and brain. And of course I could barely write. By this time I'd lost about three months of writing time.

I started treatment in the second part of April. Back to the regimen of high doses of antibiotics and loads of supplements. About 50 pills a day in all, portioned out in six doses throughout the day. You can't take this with that, this has to be taken with food, don't take that with food, separate this one from that one by four hours ... It's a puzzle just to figure out the pill-taking schedule.

In mid-May my book signing was coming up for Exposure. I didn't know how I'd be able to travel and do that signing. But about 10 days before that trip, I started getting better. And better and better--right up until now. For the past two weeks I've been pretty much symptom-free. I've even started running again--a few miles a day until I build back up to my regular regimen.

Looks like God has healed me again. Differently this time. Not in an hour, but still very quickly for Lyme. My doc, last time I saw him, said I'm "rare." He said he wished he knew what it is in my body that "fights the Lyme so well." It's not in my body. It's God.

During these months since January I've been asking God why? Why would I get Lyme again when He'd so miraculously healed me? Then when I got better so quickly--why have You healed me again? Why did You have me get sick, just to make me better so quickly? And why haven't You done the same for many sick people for whom I've been praying for months, some for years? I'm no more deserving of healing than they are. In fact, I'm the least deserving. So why?

In my defense--even as I asked the why question, I'd always follow it with, "I don't understand, but I trust You." And I meant it. I do trust God. His ways are higher than ours. I'm a mere fallible human. How can I possibly understand the mind of the God who created the universe? It's arrogant to think I can.

Then--the sentence from God three nights ago:

Don't ask WHY. Ask HOW.

Whoa, did that wake me up!

God has a way of helping us understand His cryptic meanings. I got it--fast. God was saying I'm wasting my time asking why, even if I am following that question with a declaration of trust. If I really trust God, why am I asking why in the first place? Every time a why question pops into my head, God wants me to ask a how question instead. How can I learn from this, God? How do You want me to respond to this? How can I use this for Your glory in my life? In others' lives? How can I better listen to You? How do you want me to pray for so-and-so who's still fighting an illness? How. How. How.

I don't know why I went through Lyme--again--these past months. I do know God will use it--for me and others. He's already using it in my life to draw me closer to Him. He's teaching me to ask how.

I have a strong sense this word from God is for someone else out there, too. God is efficient, after all. One person's lesson is often taught for many.

Are you asking why when you should be asking how?

20 comments:

Karen said...

Great perspective on a difficult issue. Thanks.

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

Brandilyn, I'm sitting here weeping. I admit...when I found out the lyme had returned, it sent me into a whirl of depression. I thought, "Wait--she's been healed. How can it COME BACK?" Since you know I've experienced a healing of my own, I suppose there was also an element of "What if MINE comes back?" I've always said my emotional healing is what means most to me--the physical was fluff in comparison--but here it was staring me in the face...the possibility that pain can return. And it scared me. I wanted to know WHY? WHY?

But God (and a few wonderful prayer friends) spoke to me in a similar fashion to how He spoke to you: TRUST ME. You don't need to know why, you just need to TRUST ME. Wow, trusting when you don't have the answers is a whole lot harder, but does it ever grow a person. Your return to illness sent me on another growth spurt...

Thank you for sharing this today. God is so so so good all the time! My prayers for you continue. Love you muchly!

Ralene said...

What a testimony this is to the fact that God is who He says He is. His ways are not our ways, and there is much we will not understand this side of Heaven. But praise the Lord that He is the mighty healer, the Miracle Worker.

I'm glad that you are feeling better! *hugs*

Nicole said...

Excellent, compelling, honest, and praiseworthy. Hallelujah, BC. I love seeing those tangible answers to prayers. God bless you for your testimony to His personal relationship with us "through it all".

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Blessings on all of you. Thanks for your words, Kim.

I have received numerous e-mails from folks about how God is using this post in their lives. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy.

Amy Sorrells said...

Absolutely beautiful . . . thank you.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Amazing, Brandilyn. God is good! :-) Thanks for sharing this.

Julie Gillies said...

Wow. I can't imagine the fear you faced when you were diagnosed the second time. I rejoice with you over your second healing--so different than the first--but a magnificent healing nonetheless.

God truly works all things for our good (Romans 8:28) and His goodness and power are being revealed to many through your testimony.

Thank you for sharing!

P.S. I am going to remember to ask "How?" from now on...

Hannah said...

Thanks so much for sharing your struggle. I think this healing was just as miraculous as the first, especially since God showed you a deeper level of trust. And praises to Him for bringing you through it again.

I've been learning a lot about the meaning of "How", too. Several health struggles for friends and family who are close to me, but even in not knowing why, I'm seeing HOW God can use any situation to bring His children closer to Him. And that's something awesome.

Gina Hendrix said...

I am so very amazed and so very encouraged and just love to read these stories. Then, I am overcome with such peace that God is so very deliberate in our lives, so very personal.

God certainly does keep you guessing. Just when you think you have Him figured out, He will blow your mind again.

What an awesome story. Thank you for sharing this story.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Brandilyn,

Thank you for posting. I had Lyme in 1996 for about a year before I was diagnosed. (After a positive blood test, a friend and I remembered the odd "bite" on my back the year before that we had assumed was a spider bite.)

I'm very grateful that I was so young (24) and that I had a good doctor. The disease appears to be cured in my case, as I haven't had symptoms for twelve years now. Because of my experience, though, I understand how frightening and awful it can be, especially the neurological symptoms. I'm so glad you're getting better again, and I will keep you in prayer.

Lisa Tawn Bergren said...

Brandilyn--thanks for your honesty, willingness to be vulnerable here, and your wisdom. I love seeing how God heals, in so many ways. He's amazing, and good, regardless of his timing and reasoning. Your post is a good reminder of that. Love and a hug to you, sis.

Sheila Deeth said...

Wow. Thank you!

Lisa Buffaloe said...

Thank you, Brandilyn. I needed this reminder. I hate battling Lyme and the weird symptons. I hate that every morning I have to make myself get out of bed and function, smile at my family and friends and go forward. But every day God grants me strength. And in the pain and uncertainty I crawl closer to Him.

You remain in my prayers,

Lisa

Becca said...

Interesting that you posted about this today and I just read a news article about Lyme spreading in Canada: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090608/lyme_090608/20090608?hub=Health

Lovely that it specifically mentions Southern BC... Doesn't make me want to go camping this year. I'm pretty sure pregnancy and Lyme wouldn't mix!

Lynn Squire said...

Brandilyn, I'm praying for you. And perhaps I'm one of those that needed to hear the how, not why. Thank you for sharing it - what a blessing.

Thank you for the sacrifice you made at Mount Hermon; I was blessed by your infusion of knowledge and friendship.

You have my love and prayers.

Robert Parrish said...

Incredibly encouraging, Brandilyn. Thank you - and thank the Father - for your willingness to share so much of your life with the rest of us. You are a gift.

Lucy Ann Moll said...

Brandilyn,
Thanks for sharing. Pain comes in as many colors as crayons in a Crayola box. Some of us, depression. Others, anxiety. Still others, Lyme disease or diabetes or cerebral palsy. God didn't heal you the same way this time. I cannot wrap my mind around 50 pills a day. My heart goes out to you and anyone who walks the path of pain.

If God had chosen to not heal you this time, he would have been glorified in your suffering. I don't understand this, but I know it's true, for it's proclaimed in the Word.

I praise God for you, Brandilyn, and for your message of hope. You are his testimony of hope and healing.

Blessings and hugs, Lucy
http://lucyannmoll.com/realhurtsrealhope/

D. Gudger said...

Convicting.

After you prayed for me that day at ACFW, God took away my terrible headache immediately. It was a few weeks before they hit again, but in the mean time I thought I was healed.

My headaches have been back for quite some time and are worse than ever. They are debilitating. Prevent me from being the wife, mother, writer and coach that I think I need to be.

As I fall short of my goals b/c of pain, I shake my fist and scream WHY? I'm useless when I'm in the throes of pain. My cognition, memory and all are affected.

This post hit me in the solar plexus. I'm asking the wrong question. I never asked how. I've been too frustrated.

Ya just gave me something new to chew on as God gave me a whole new bunch of teen girls and a few boys to love (color guard unit).

How. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Brandilyn,

Thanks so much for sharing. I've been battling a mysterious, extreme reflux for almost 3 years that neither medication nor natural supplements helps. No one can figure it out. I've lost weight because I can't eat normally. The reflux interferes with food going down. I constantly feel nauseous, exhausted from lack of sleep, because it wakes me up at night, and out of breath. My esophagus is severely inflamed and sensitive to many things. I try not to ask God why, though I sometimes give in to my frustrations. I have asked, instead what God wants me to learn from this, but never seem to hear an answer. Because of your testimony, I'm wondering, in addition to "why?" being the wrong question, could "what?" be one, too? Perhaps "how" digs deeper.

Thanks again.

Deborah Piccurelli