In the New Testament, we read a story about the woman who bled for 12 years before being healed by Jesus (Mark 5:21-43). She spent years suffering and regardless of how much she spent on doctors they could not heal her. She bled, which would mean she was considered unclean for 12 years. To be ceremonially unclean under the Levitical Law, would mean that anyone who came into contact with her would be considered unclean and would need to offer a sacrifice in order to remove their sin. This would imply the woman lived as an outcast and didn’t come into contact with people. It wasn’t until Jesus came to town and she touched the hem of his garment that she found healing. Jesus told the woman that her faith healed her.
When I was 23 years old, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, and really couldn’t grasp the long-term consequences of that diagnosis. My first thoughts were of chemo and radiation, the word cancer loomed heavy in my mind. The doctor explained it was only stage 1, so no chemo or radiation would be needed. Instead, she would remove a large portion of my cervix to ensure all the cancerous cells were removed. My mother sat at my side and she processed the news with me. The doctor explained I would not be able to carry children full term.
The reality of my situation was scary and beyond overwhelming. Instead, of reaching out for prayer, I asked my mom to keep it quiet. I felt that I was being punished by God. This was further confirmed when a co-worker asked me about my absences and I confided in her about my situation. I will never forget her telling me that if I had more faith then I wouldn’t be sick. At the time, HPV wasn’t a common term. So, not only was I carrying this secret of a cancer diagnosis but I was also carrying deep shame over having a sexually transmitted disease. My world was being rocked at the very core of my being: my faith.
I remember sitting with my Bible and crying out to God for healing. I was distraught and felt unseen, forgotten. One day, in my scripture reading I came across Psalm 103:1-5.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
I memorized this entire chapter of the Bible, but it was these five verses that I prayed over myself every time the doubt or fear began to creep into my thoughts. I was diligent believing that God would heal me. It was around the five-year anniversary of my surgery, when my doctor commented that my cervix looked completely healed. She said, she didn’t think I would have any issues bearing kids, but to be cautious all the same. She told me she had never seen such a healing occur and I knew God was healing my body.
Each year, during my annual exam I would request an HPV test. The time came when I married and the reality of possibly not being able to carry a child . Those words carried a different weight as a married woman. I still prayed those verses believing that God would heal me of this disease and allow me to carry a child.
Three years after I married, I became pregnant. It was also the first year since my diagnosis that I tested negative for HPV. The relief I felt, the gratitude in my heart, was overwhelming. God had healed me.
I had my daughter nine months later. Three years later, I gave birth to my son. It’s been almost seventeen years, since I first tested negative for HPV, and each time I test it continues to come back negative. The doctor explained it by saying the virus can go dormant, but I know I’m healed. I’m whole just as the woman who was bleeding for 12 years was healed. He is the still the God of miracles even 2,000 years later.
Why am I telling this story now? Because someone reading this needs to know that God does hear our prayers, He does heal us, He does love you. Does he heal every time? No, but that is not because the person praying doesn’t have the right amount of faith or because they are being punished. Sometimes, the answer is no for reasons we can’t comprehend or understand. My parents died in September 2021, a week apart, and if abundant prayer was all that was needed then they would have been healed. Sometimes, the reasons God says no are beyond our realm and we have to trust that His ways are better even when we are hurting.
Dear Lord, hear my prayers. Forgive me for my sins, help me to have faith that you love and want the best for me. Bringing healing and restoration to my soul, Lord. Help me to be the person you created me to be. Fill me with courage and faith when I’m weak. Help me to speak words of affirmation and truth. In your name I pray. Amen.