An article in the paper tonight announced the arrival of a faith healer to our town. The arena where he is to hold meetings is debating whether a distribution of his “healing water” constitutes competition with the concessions. I had to smile. My teenage son, who suffered for many years with asthma, ordered a small vial of this water a few years ago. He recounted its claims to me and sweetly offered to split the contents. Chronic fatigue syndrome had sapped me for years. I wasn’t sure I wanted to drink it. But he did, and found relief from his attacks for an astonishingly long time after.
When I first fell ill, I lived in Togo. I wasn’t sure whether I was physically, mentally or spiritually ill, or a combination of all three. I could just see the headlines: Carol Brinneman returns from the mission field having lost her mind! It would be four years before I got a name for this debilitating, mind-fogging and stress-related state. We returned to Indiana. But after 18 months’ rest and little improvement, I felt, nevertheless, compelled to return to Africa with my husband Neal and two sons. If there was one thing I wanted to see accomplished in my lifetime, it was the Lama translation of the New Testament.
Back in Togo, I relished a return of energy and foolishly dove into dictionary work. A couple months later, my system shut down. I went to bed and stayed there four months. I would often ask Neal, “Do you have faith I will ever get well?” His reply was always yes. Secretly, in my weakness, I thought, Yeah, right! Well, at least he believed. Only one other person ever expressed such faith to me. A French Christian nurse once looked me in the eye and said, “The Lord wants to heal you.”
A grant of several more months of relative strength came to me and then both our young sons contracted hepatitis A. I was not spared the disease despite my pleas to God, and went back to bed for another seven months. One day as I was eating at the table, my usually optimistic husband said, “You don’t look good. You better go lie down.” Fear shot through me and I wondered if I’d be buried in Africa.
We moved to the capital to live in a less stressful environment at our mission’s compound. In the guest house, I watched a mother lovingly care for her two sons. I seriously doubted I would ever be able to do that again for mine. Just holding my arms up to cut my sons’ hair was difficult. In order to take a five-minute shower, I sometimes had to wait several hours to feel enough energy to do it. Even speaking more than a couple sentences stressed me to the breaking point so I could not eat with others in the dining hall.
People, out of concern for my need of rest I suppose, stayed away. Over three months’ time, only two women came, together, to pray for me. Was I so ill that no one had faith to pray? Was I a hopeless case? Was I “doomed?”
Alone in the bedroom all day, I read books and talked to the Lord. I felt Him nearer than I ever had. I lay on my bed and He “lay” across the ceiling watching me. I asked Him what to do to get well. He said, “I have shut you up to myself and nothing and no one will heal you, but me.” His words were a mustard seed-sized gift of faith.
So since 1985, I have followed His prescription, avoiding questionable treatments and pills. I have not attended any miracle cure meetings nor drunk any “healing water.” And slowly I get better every year.Some faith healers work fast. One touch and you’re whole. The Lord, my Healer, chose to touch my mind, heart and soul slowly, over many years. He’s holding my hand daily and walking me out of this disease—by faith.