By Brianna Hines
Most of the time when I pray for healing I am asking for a miraculous healing. I want whatever or whoever it is I am praying about to be magically and suddenly healed. But perhaps the reason God doesn’t answer some of my prayers for healing with a miracle is because He wants to answer my prayer in a different way.
Since high school I have had persistent bouts of dyshidrotic eczema (and now you are all probably googling what that is). This kind of eczema is characterized by fluid filled blisters that break out under the skin followed by the most excruciating itching you can imagine. Sometimes I wake up in the night itching uncontrollably, usually to the point of becoming out of breath. As a result, I end up with open sores all over my hands that bleed and drain for weeks at a time. I don’t wish it on anyone.
I have prayed many desperate prayers for healing from this devil of a disorder, but no miracle has ever come. It wasn’t until COVID that it finally got so bad I went to see a dermatologist because it had actually spread to my eyelids. She told me that my type of eczema is almost entirely stress induced. Once I have a breakout, it is exacerbated by diet and environmental triggers, but the majority of my problem is my inability to properly cope with stress. Go figure.
So I left with some topical creams as a BAND-AID for my real problem and started to evaluate the times in my life when it had gotten the worst. Soon it all started to make sense. Every major life change was accompanied by terrible breakouts. But I also realized the seasons that my flare ups were minimal were the times I had been exercising regularly, eating right, and taking care of my soul. Maybe healthy living played a bigger part in this than I had previously thought.
I decided to test my theory. I started exercising regularly again, like almost every day regularly, and my hands started to get better. I got fewer and fewer flare ups, and they became less and less severe. I didn’t have to use the ointments anymore. I no longer slept with socks on my hands. I could taste healing.
I changed my eating habits. I cut out most sugar and carbs and started replacing them with vegetables. I also started prioritizing time reading the Bible and praying every. single. day. It was tough. But slowly, I started building habits of healthy eating and quiet time with the Lord, pouring more and more of my anxieties out to Him in prayer.
All of this culminated in hands that were restored. Most days my hands will look perfectly normal now. It is a miracle. Seriously a miracle. I had suffered with this horrendous condition for more than 16 years, and now it is healed. Is it gone for good? Of course not. It will always be lurking around waiting for me to stop exercising, or eating right, or spending time with the Lord. And whenever it does flare up a little, I am reminded of how important those things are. I am a little fond of it now. It is kind of like my early warning system for when I am not properly dealing with stress in my life. Maybe God gave it to me, so I will learn not to fall back into my unhealthy ways. But after all those years of praying, of begging God to take it away, He healed me.
Now you might say that it wasn’t GOD who healed me. It was just my body that healed itself. But I would argue that they are often one and the same. If we live in ways that God designed us and is asking us to, then the reward is usually a healthy body. Are there exceptions to that? Yes. But is that the general rule? Yes. God chose to heal me through obedience by denying me the instant miracle.
Maybe God wants to heal our depression, anxiety, or chronic illnesses, not with an instant miracle, but with the thing that He created as healing — exercise, rest, and eating right. Thanks to science, we now know what is happening in our bodies when we do these things. When we exercise, for example, our body produces hormones that tell it to burn fat for energy, reduce the amount of pain we feel, and even improve our mood. It can positively affect our skin health, eye health, heart health, respiratory health, brain health, essentially our entire health! And, if any of these exercises are high-impact or weightlifting, they actually strengthen our very bones! Add bone health to the list! Don’t even get me started on healthy eating and rest!
So often we want the quick fix, the magic pill, the miracle. But God doesn’t often work that way. He would much prefer to use the healing mechanisms He designed into creation itself. I now see that expecting a miraculous healing from my skin issues would be similar to reading my Bible once a month and yet wanting peace that passes all understanding in the midst of a crisis. Or like praying for 30 seconds before dinner every other night and expecting to hear God’s direction for a major life decision. It just doesn’t work that way. Things have to be built over time with great investment in order to get significant fruit. The same is true for bodies that are restored after years of disobedience. Can God still do miracles? Absolutely! But often the miracle would be a missed opportunity for us to learn how to obey Him in the first place.
So, if we are waiting for a miracle, maybe God is actually waiting for us to make the first move, so He can show us the miracle of what happens to our bodies when we live the way He designed us to. I pray that we can all experience that kind of healing in our lives and witness firsthand the joy of living in a body that is truly, and miraculously, restored.