Since childhood, I’ve endured back pain due to scoliosis (curvature of the spine) which was diagnosed in sixth grade. However, nothing prepared me for the level of pain I was experiencing in the fall of last year.
My back was in an endless cycle of spasms that required intense physical therapy. As part of my treatment, I had to re-evaluate my work space. My hand-me-down chair simply wasn’t providing adequate support and greatly contributing to my pain. I had get a new chair immediately. Doctor’s orders.
I would love to tell you that my first response was to go to God in prayer, fully expecting him to provide. That’s what I should have done. But it’s not what I actually did.
Don’t get me wrong, I prayed. But not the kind of prayer that expected God to act. Instead, I began budgeting how to scrape together enough money to buy myself a new chair almost before I uttered “amen.”
Two days later, I was sitting in a staff meeting wincing in pain when a colleague of mine, Tori, offered to let me use her comfortable desk chair rather than the wooden ones provided. I commented under my breath, “This is the kind of chair I need.” She simply responded, “You can have it.”
I was stunned. Speechless. Turns out, Tori had recently been given two identical chairs and wanted to give one away.
In that moment, I felt a range of emotions from gratitude to guilt. Yes, guilt. I knew I didn’t deserve God’s gracious gift, but he gave it to me anyway. Then, guilt gave way to conviction.
I had no idea where Tori stood in her relationship with God, but I knew exactly where I stood. So I wrote her a heartfelt note detailing how God had provided through her generosity, despite my doubt. I even included this scripture, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).
I sent the note, my back spasms subsided, and life went on. If that were the end of the story, it would still be a great story. But, as so often is the case with God, there’s more to tell.
Months later, Tori came to me with tears in her eyes and shared devastating news. Her brother was in the ICU with severe health complications. His prognosis was grim. The doctors didn’t expect him to survive.
While my heart went out to her, I’ll admit I was a little caught off guard. We weren’t close. However, it soon became clear why she had sought me out. She simply said, “I knew you would pray.”
Those five words rocked my world. She knew I would pray. When she thought of me, she saw faith in the midst of doubt. How? God redeemed my doubt through his faithfulness. It was that simple.
Tori and I have shared many hugs and shed many tears together while lifting her brother up in prayer. I have prayed for him and prayed with her for the past several weeks. Her brother has since been released from ICU and continues to defy the odds, a testimony to the power of prayer.
And I have to think that while that is a great end to the story, it still may not be over yet.