“What’s wrong with your hand, Miss J?”
It’s the beginning of the school week, and this four-year-old with the platinum blonde curls and intensely serious blue eyes is very concerned about the stiff black brace strapped on my right hand.
“My wrist hurts me sometimes,” I explain as I kneel down to her eye level. “This brace keeps it still so it doesn’t hurt as much.”
She takes this bit of information in solemnly, then pronounces with confidence, “It will be better tomorrow. I’ll pray for you, and Jesus will make it better.” And she turns and trots off down the hall to her classroom.
As I straighten up and return to my work at the photocopier in the teachers’ lounge, I massage my right thumb absently, letting out my breath in a long sigh.
“Tendonitis,” the hand and wrist specialist had said. Inflamed tendons in the thumb and wrist, leading all the way up to the elbow, caused by “repetitive movement strain.”
“This is not just going to go away,” he pronounced. “A simple surgery is your best option…”
Surgery is the last thing I want to do. So I ask my students for volunteers to write on the board for me. I try to remember to open doorknobs with my left hand.
Sometimes it doesn’t bother me for days or weeks. But then I pick up a pencil I dropped on the floor, and a shooting pain stops me in my tracks for a few agonizing seconds. And with the pain comes the all-too familiar discouragement.
“It’s never going to heal,” I think glumly. “It’s been a year and a half already, and so many people have prayed for me, but nothing’s changed. This is my reality now.”
The next time I see my bold little prayer warrior, her eyes hone in on my black wrist brace. “I prayed for your hand – is it better now?” she asks eagerly.
What can I say? How can I tell her that I’ve stopped praying? How can I tell her that I’ve stopped believing God will heal me?
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Proverbs 13:12. That’s me. I’ve given up hope. I can’t handle more disappointment.
I feel like the father of the boy with seizures in Mark 9, who brings his son to Jesus for healing. “If you are able to do anything…” When Jesus confronts the man’s lack of faith, immediately he calls out “I believe – help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24, NRSV).
Even if my wrist is never healed on this earth, even if I have to wear this wrist brace my whole life, even if I never understand it all until I get to heaven, I can still choose to put my hope in God. I can choose to trust Him. He cares about my wrist. But even more than that, He cares about my heart. And that’s what needs healing.
Those big blue eyes of my four-year-old prayer warrior are still looking up at me, expectantly. “Did Jesus heal it?”
“Thank you so much for praying for me!” I tell her, giving her a hug. “I know Jesus is healing it.”
With a satisfied smile, she runs off. And a tiny spark of hope is growing in my heart. Because Jesus IS healing me – starting with my heart.
What about you? Has your heart been disappointed? Have you felt that God isn’t answering your prayers? Have you given up hope? Ask God to begin healing your heart today. He will. But you have to make that choice.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5