A memory ingrained in my mind is when a woman, who neither me nor my husband personally know, greeted my husband and upon realising that he has a strong stammer, announced that he is “healed in Jesus’ name.” Thor, my husband, didn’t seem bothered at all but I was both infuriated and hurt. The comment stung from two angles: she didn’t know Thor, his disability, his testimony or his own feelings about his stammer and perhaps more importantly, she placed more emphasis on the fact that my husband, according to her theology, needed physical healing than realise that God at times allows suffering for our good. Both my husband and I have seen how God has sanctified both of us through this speech impediment and have seen the blessings that have come with it. All the outsider saw was a physical problem, akin to a curse, that needed to be gone.
But we are not dismayed by his stammer nor do we doubt the goodness of God or become frustrated with God because physical healing has not come. Our hope is in present and future grace. We know that the grace of God is sufficient for us (1 Corinthians 12:9) and we know we are in Christ, who Himself is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). My husband knows any suffering is temporary and that in the end, his resurrected body will be free from the afflictions he currently has. We hold fast to this glorious truth:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4
Don’t attach the promises of the future to the present day. God doesn’t tell us we will not have any pain or suffering or illness in this life. He tells us he will do away with it all in the New Heavens and the New Earth, at the end of the redemption story. Let us hold fast these promises and walk through the trials of this life with courage and hope.
God allows suffering for now because our spiritual healing is of far greater importance than the need for any physical healing. Joni Eareckson beautifully said:
Don’t you think that’s curious, I mean, that suffering came from original sin, and yet God uses suffering in our lives to help us get rid of sin. – Joni Eareckson, ‘a deeper healing.’
In one of our few discussions about his stammer, Thor revealed to me that he can now see some of the spiritual blessings of his stammer: the patience and compassion it has taught him, the amount of pride and arrogance it has stripped out of his heart, the dependency on God it has taught him. He does still occasionally have one of his emotionally hard days but yet, he counts his troubles joy.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
The changes in Thor’s heart desires are a testament to the goodness and power of God. He used to yearn for a physical healing, he used to believe his identity was wrapped up in his stammer. But ask him now what he wants to see happen with his stammer and he will tell you what he has told me over and over again: that God would be glorified through it and that His will be done.
When I look at him, I don’t see a disability. I see a man redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. A man strong in his faith, a great husband, a godly leader of our home and marriage who demonstrates servant leadership. I see a man who is finds his joy and identity in Jesus Christ.
So should my husband ever ask you for prayer for his stammer or should you feel led to pray for him, this would not be a time for you to try to exert your spiritual authority over his disability and or “decree” that his stammer will be cured. It is not your battlefield. It is not your time to show how much of a ‘prayer warrior’ you are. Rather, it would be a great opportunity for you to pray that God be glorified through his stammer, that Thor’s life will show how good our God is, how sufficient our God’s grace is and how inscrutable his ways!