going back a couple of months ago... it was the final day of hosting our friends from journey church in jacksonville, FL. they had come on a mission trip, to serve the boys in the academy. it was a great week, and we had just wrapped up a wonderful, spirit-filled final night of worship together.
|our friends from journey church (antoine far left)|
i had broken my thumb playing basketball about 6 weeks before that. a couple weeks later, dr. carlos re-set the dislocation (one of the more painful experiences of my life! haha) and wrapped it up in a bandage. but during the week leading up to the journey team's arrival, it had been hurting much worse. in fact, the day before the team arrived, dr. carlos looked at it again, told me that i had clearly re-injured it, and that it was now "severely broken." the break was obvious even to the naked eye. he said i should see an orthopedic doctor right away, have it re-set again, and have a hard cast put on for 6-8 weeks.
i decided to wait until the journey team left. i felt that i was supposed to play guitar and lead worship for their team. even though it hurt to play, i prayed about it and believed that God wanted me to do it. i asked my wife to pray as well, and we made the decision to wait one more week. i kept my hand wrapped up, and used my pointer finger sticking out of the bandage to strum chords.
back to our final night. as we sat there in the silence after all the boys had left, one of the members of the journey team asked if they could pray for jessica's health. we all gathered around, laid our hands on her, and prayed. again, i have prayed for healing over people many times - but this time was really special. the sincerity, beauty, and passion of the prayers led to an experience with God that had us all in tears.
then suddenly, a guy named antoine asked me for my thumb. he grasped my bandage-wrapped-hand, and began praying. acknowledging that God's will and purposes are greater than ours, he boldly asked God to heal my thumb.
at this point, i must confess that i was somewhat against these prayers. i know... that sounds awful.
but as he prayed for my measly thumb, i couldn't stop thinking about the people all around me that need healing much worse than i did. not only is the majority of our village sick, abused, addicted or broken - but i was also thinking about jessica, who was sitting right next to me. she battles with the autoimmune disease of lupus every day of her life, and was currently dealing with some extreme pain and complications.
but as everyone continued praying - once again - the presence of the holy spirit was overwhelming. i could feel him there with us. seriously. later that night, kerrie (who is normally not one to report "visions" or spiritually cooked-up stories) told me that she literally saw the shadowed outline of an additional person sitting there with us praying. she was certain that it was the presence of Jesus.
sounds of crying and passionate prayer filled the room... until antoine interrupted by asking me loudly "brock, does your thumb still hurt?"
i hesitated to answer. i think i just said "i don't know man."
then he asked again, "well, does it hurt or not?" i knew why i didn't want to answer. i didn't even want to try moving it around to check. i feared having to say "yep, it still hurts." my concern was that it would be a "moment killer" if it wasn't healed. i didn't want it to be awkward.
but i couldn't be dishonest either. i responded, "i'm not sure", hoping that we could move on and continue praying for jessica.
antoine insisted: "brock, take off the bandage." busted. i had no choice, so i took it off. he grabbed my thumb and starting twisting it around. my first reaction was to hold my breath and cringe in pain! i had been dealing with this thumb for 6 weeks at this point, and i knew the level of pain it was causing me. any contact with it, like reaching into my pocket, opening a door, brushing my teeth, etc...was excrutiating.
so my natural reaction was to pull my hand away from him quickly in order to avoid the pain. but he didn't let go. he continued... massaging and twisting my thumb around in a gentle, but confident way.
that's when the reality of the moment hit me like a ton of bricks.
there was no pain. it didn't hurt at all.
i know i must have gone stone-faced at that moment, because i don't even remember my reaction. i do remember finally saying "bro, i don't feel anything." he continued, "well, move it around and see what you can do."
so i did... i wiggled it around, and squeezed my hand into a fist. things that would have been impossible just a few minutes earlier. i continued opening and closing my hand, over and over again.
with tears in my eyes, i finally said, "no pain. nothing. it's healed."
we broke out into prayer again. everyone was praising God. i remember looking at kerrie, then paul. the looks on their faces must have been as shocked as mine!
all i could do was fall down on my knees, rest my hands on jessica's feet, and beg God to move the healing over to her. i still felt like i didn't deserve it. my thumb was nothing compared to her disease. it just didn't make sense.
Romans 11:33 says:
"oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! who has known the mind of the Lord?"
God didn't heal jessica that day. but he healed my broken thumb.
- maybe my faith needed challenged.
- maybe He has more purposes to accomplish though jessica's illness.
- maybe He healed my thumb to do a work in antoine's heart, or to grow his gift of healing.
- or maybe instead of hypothesizing, he simply wants us to praise him in all things - good, bad, and difficult to understand. (1 thess 5:16-19).
as eugene peterson put Romans 11:33 in the message bible:
have you ever come upon anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? its way over our heads. we'll never figure it out.
i have been hesitant to share this story because of my personal wrestling with the "why" part. ...that sense of feeling unworthy to have had my thumb healed. why use a miracle to heal my thumb, that can heal itself in 6-8 weeks in a cast... when there are so many more severe needs all around me?
last friday, we were doing some physical conditioning with the boys in the gym... when the song came on the stereo. "there is power in the name of Jesus... to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain."
as i thought of these boys that i love, considering their challenges and circumstances, and began to sing those lyrics over them in prayer. as they did box jumps, cone drills, and push ups, i prayed over them, "God break every chain, break every chain, break every chain..."
i suddenly remembered where i had heard this song before. it was the song that antoine was singing out as he prayed over my thumb 2 months ago! such a special night. he was crying this song out as a prayer. the entire team from journey joined in, and soon we were all singing it out. people were laying on the floor - face down. tears streaming.
that night was the first time i had heard that song, and i had never heard it since - until friday's workout.
my heart was exploding. i hid my teary eyes from mynor, paul, and the boys. God was speaking to me. "Brock, in the instant of my choosing, I healed a broken bone in your body. do you still believe in my power? that i can do all things? including break every generational chain in this village?"
among all of his purposes for healing my thumb, one of them is that I needed reminded of God's power. there is power in the name of Jesus...
my silence about this amazing miracle has exposed my lack of faith. and it has been an unintentional attempt to suppress his fame and his glory. and what a tragedy that is... as his fame and glory is all that i care about.
God, forgive me for letting my lack of understanding get in the way of my faith in you and my love for you. Jesus, thank you for being with us that night as we cried out to you. thank you for my friends at journey church, and for antoine's bold obedient prayer. and thank you for healing my broken thumb! and God... thank you for answering all of our prayers, whether it be simply by bringing peace to the heart, staying strangely silent, or by doing the miraculous - as I trust that all of your ways are perfect. I know that there is power in the name of Jesus, and i believe in you to break every chain!