Not my typical blog post…I almost didn’t post it for fear that I just couldn’t hear my voice in the text. But it is a story worth telling, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s hang out!
About 3 weeks ago I started to feel a little flu-ish with a touch of fever and headache. I walked myself to the clinic and sure enough tested positive for the infamous…malaria.
Later I found out it was severe malaria–like the kind that kills people. Of course it was. I couldn’t have the cute simple-to- treat malaria. In Uganda we seem to like to go big or go home…and typically we just go big.
Attempting to be a good little patient I took my 4 pills a day…and waited. Those were rough days filled with fevers, sweats, and lots of sleeping. Chris said he would walk by me and put his hand to my mouth to check that I was breathing. But on the day I was supposed to make a turn…I didn’t. As a matter of fact I began to feel worse. Over the next 48 hours I tested positive for malaria a second time and was switched to a stronger more intense medication while struggling to keep down any food or meds. Finally thanks to a zophran injection, a couple fluid IVs, and some spacing of the medication I was able to keep food down and follow protocol. Yet–by the following Friday when I was finished with treatment–I still sensed that I was not well. Another blood test proved positive. This placed me back on the most evil medication invented. (Though a tad bit dramatic as I have not taken ALL medications…some of the RG girls said they had heard of this medicine causing children to lose their hearing or worse go “mad”! I honestly wouldn’t doubt it…it appears to be poison.) But it is the stuff they use to treat severe malaria so therefore I endured it. I actually was placed on another malaria medication and an antibiotic so in total, along with my zophran that just kept everything down, I counted 20 pills I was taking DAILY. I tried to stay away from the internet because the only things I could find about severe malaria spoke of intensive care units and it shifting to your blood stream and quickly killing you. At times fear crept in. In between the sleeping, vomiting, blazing headaches and fevers…I prayed. But honestly I was putting a whole lot of faith in the medicine to take care of this disease.
My prayers weren’t very big prayers. They sounded like, “please relieve my headache, please let me get back to normal life, please give Chris the strength to hold down the fort.” Never being the type who wants to inconvenience others…subconsciously did I not want to bother God for the big stuff? Probably. Or maybe I was fearful to place all my faith in full healing…what would happen if I asked to be malaria free and instead continued to get worse?
Mid week people came to pray for me. I was out of it, I honestly didn’t even know who they were. One of the sweet mamas came to pray and all I remember was her strong hand on my head…and a powerful sense of God’s presence in the room. But the 2nd weekend was different. I was more alert and aware of the prayers prayed. I was also more aware of the fact that the medicine was not appearing to work. I was aware (and even hopeful) that though God does use medicine to heal people–I knew He could use prayer if He chose to do so. Friday night another Mama prayed for me…but before she prayed she SANG healing over me. Sang y’all! She prayed big bold powerful prayers. She prayed Isaiah 38 over me. (Read it–it’s good stuff.) She prayed for any plans of the enemy to be thwarted. She prayed for God the great Physician to heal my body.
She wasn’t the only one. Every doctor who treated me (and there were several) prayed mightily on my behalf. 12 little girls filled my bedroom and prayed prayers with tears (legit tears) begging God to heal me. I was told later that throughout my illness daily in class the children prayed for me. Most all of the children of Restoration Gateway have seen people die and have seen people live…and often proper medical care hasn’t been available. Prayer has been the game-changer. Their prayers sound so different than mine. So bold. So FAITH-FILLED. So powerful. So sincere. So convinced of the out come. Not “if it be your will,” with a weak squeaky voice. Instead confidently, “please heal her Lord because you have the power to do it.”
The same weekend, on the other side of the world a little boy went to church with his family. I woke to an email from his mom sharing this:
At church tonight the pastor said he wanted to set aside some time during the service for prayer. He divided the room into three sections. When he got to our section he said, “I want you all to pray for people who are suffering with physical sickness tonight.” Caleb got so excited he got out of his seat and turned to me. He ( in quite a loud whisper) said, “That’s for us mommy! He is saying that for us because of Ms Jenni. He wants people to pray for her!” Then as the rest of the congregation silently prayed, my Caleb prayed out loud for you. He asked God to “please really” heal her sickness. After he finished he looked at me with these radiant eyes and just shook his head. He could not believe pastor asked our section for that request.
Child like faith. I was not praying with the confidence that this 9 year old boy was praying for me. My prayers aren’t big enough.
I am certain that this little boy is NOT the only one in America praying for me. My inbox was filled with notes from friends who shared their family’s intentions…and even some folks were not sleeping as God had nudged them to wake up and pray. It is an awesome–(and I mean that in the AWE-filled way it is defined)–to consider the prayers of those who lifted me before the Great Physician. Requests taken to the One who created this world and has the power to certainly heal someone with malaria. Even “severe” malaria.
Here is the thing. The way I sensed I still had malaria was from the night sweats that appear to show the continuous cycle of malaria in the system. After only 1 additional day of the “evil medication,” but at the same time the prayers at RG really started to “ramp up,” (and I received the email from my friend in America) something shifted. I slept more soundly and I did NOT have any night sweats. I told Chris incredulously, “I think I am healed!?!”
Daily I become acutely aware of the fact that I am not in Uganda for Uganda’s sake…but my own. God is using this place to teach me lesson after lesson. Trusting Him has been front and central. But this prayer thing…it is something in which I need to invest WAY more time and attention.
America is SO blessed with it’s medical advancements. Duke is at my backdoor. We have the finest specialists in the world a phone call away and amazingly most of us have the insurance to cover it. But in this place where medical attention is difficult to come by, I see the people putting their faith in God’s power over the power of the medical treatments. (Even the docs.) Inspiring. Faith-altering. Does this mean no more meds for me? No. What I am saying is that I believe God uses medicine and doctors and thank goodness for that. I also for whatever reason am realizing through this process that my prayers (in life) are too small.
More than anything my experiences here are teaching me: my prayers aren’t big enough. God is not inconvenienced by my asking. HE is big enough to change the weather, our health, and our current difficult circumstance. In the past I have asked for the small stuff…and He has been faithful to enter in to the pain. Now more than ever, I recognize He has the power to heal the pain and I have just not been courageous enough to pray the big prayers. I cannot be alone in this. Today, don’t get tangled up concerned that you might trouble God asking for the big stuff. Don’t stay stuck or paralyzed wondering what it might do to your faith if He doesn’t answer the way you are asking. Seeing this play out in my own life, I can confidently say, it is worth the ask.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Pray Big,