By Alex Anderson, Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church –
Sometimes the answers we seek to our prayers are only a symptom of something much deeper, and more painful, that God needs to heal first.
In April of 1999, LaRinda was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis. It started with flu-like symptoms. Within a year LaRinda went from being a very active person to not being able to feed or bathe herself. The next thirteen years of her life became a roller coaster ride of health issues.
It took a few months for LaRinda’s rheumatologist to diagnose the problem. LaRinda called her “my rheumatologist” because she had become much more than another medical professional in a white coat. She had been there for LaRinda through everything. She never gave up and always went the extra mile. If she didn’t have an answer, she searched until she did.
Year after year, there were new symptoms to deal with, from hair loss to the need of blood transfusions. LaRinda said, “It was as if my body was out of control and there was no stopping it.”
Just Trying To Survive
Not only had her quality of life been stolen from her but it was also affecting her husband and two children. LaRinda said, “I was just trying to survive.”
The day arrived that the guilt she was carrying was too heavy. She knew her family deserved so much more. One day her husband found her trying to swallow an overdose of prescription pain medicine. Her young daughter came in and overheard what was happening and became hysterical. “I will never forget that moment”, LaRinda said.
Shortly after that, LaRinda was watching television early one morning. After the program went off she left the room, forgetting to turn the off the TV.
From another room she began to listen to a minister teaching on forgiveness from Mark 11:23-25. She said it was at that moment that she knew what she had to do. “Forgiveness was all I could hear.”
She knew she had bitterness, anger and resentment in her heart. She’d had a relationship with God at 13, but as she grew up, life happened, and she stopped making God a priority, and even stopped going to church.
She wept and knew that it was time to forgive. She named each person she could think of who had hurt her. She thought she had already forgiven them but realized she had not. She said, “This time it was God’s Spirit that helped me to forgive.”
The excruciating pain that had racked LaRinda’s body and soul for 13 years began to ease and within days her body started to respond positively to treatments. Under the care of her doctors, she eventually did not need medication anymore. LaRinda’s first steps to real health began when she forgave.
Today she finds a way to be a blessing to those around her. She knows it not only helps them, but it benefits her, as well. In her words, “Hasn’t He (God) forgiven each of us?”
Forgive And Live
As a Pastor, I have found the one thing that can really hinder the power of prayer and the results of medication is unforgiveness. It robs health, wealth, relationships, and even life. I have officiated funerals from suicides of those who would not forgive others and therefore could not forgive themselves. Never forget how powerful forgiveness can be.
“…if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them…” Mark 11:25 NIV
And always remember…Be Life Giving!
From the book, Life Giving Prayer, by Alex Anderson, due out December 2012.
Alex Anderson is a Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church in Bradenton, Florida.
Connect with Pastor Alex at http://belifegiving.blogspot.com/