When I was on the field, there was a man in my local church who, as a teenager, was very athletic and hoped to become a professional athlete. When he was 18 or 20, he fell from a trampoline and became paralyzed. I met him when he was in his late 50’s. He was the kindest man and a strong believer. The love and presence of Jesus radiated from him. His concern was for the people around him, not himself. Whenever he talked with you, you felt his full attention and love, and knew he would have a word from the Lord to share. He was an elder, small group leader, and prayer group leader in our church. So many times he was prayed for to receive healing to no obvious effect. And we were a church that prayed a lot and believed in gifts of healing. Because of his lack of mobility (he was confined to a wheelchair and had limited use of his arms), he often had very painful bed sores and awful coughs, but through all that he would continue to reach out to others and lead prayer and discipleship groups.
This man died in his mid 60’s. His funeral stands out in my mind. The church was packed and overflowing. The man’s hobby had been ham radio. People came for the funeral from Germany and other countries–people he had never met but whose lives he had touched on the radio for the Lord. At the funeral, person after person gave testimony to the impact he had on their lives. I remember sitting there wondering–even though I believe totally that the Lord wants to heal and is able to heal–if his life without healing was more to the glory of God than his life with healing would have been. The Lord could have healed him completely right after the accident, or anytime thereafter, so he could have had his dream life as an athlete. But He didn’t. And many people seeing him everyday in the wheelchair smiling, loving, laughing, giving praise–such a contrast to one’s natural inclination to be bitter, angry, resentful, isolating–did that turn hearts to Jesus more than a miracle of healing would have done? A once-off miracle compared to a miracle of grace and love every day for decades? I don’t know. We only live one life and can’t rewind to see how option #2 would turn out. But I know his life exemplified Jesus to me.
-Wendy Dezan, Rainbows of Hope International Director