It’s hard to believe my first book, Touching the Hem, was published 5 years ago this month!
The book was born out of my personal journey into a life-changing chronic illness, and an earnest desire to know how to respond to everything in a way that glorified God.
I had recently graduated from college, gotten engaged to a wonderful man, and was involved in every activity possible. Then I got horribly sick, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Almost a year went by before I finally ended up being admitted to the hospital, practically comatose, around 2 AM on Easter Sunday.
Finally, a good team of doctors was focused on figuring out what was wrong with me. They ran tests — MRI’s, biopsies, blood-work, and I’m not sure what else — and within a few days, they discovered my immune system had gone into overdrive and started attacking my blood vessels, leading to inflammation and cutting off blood supply to major organs.
My diagnosis was a rare disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a life-long chronic illness that could be treated, but never cured completely.
Long-term treatment involved daily immuno-suppressants (low-dose chemo drugs) and high-dose corticosteroids (prednisone), and the side effects were almost as bad as the disease itself.
I rode out of the hospital in a wheelchair about a week later, overjoyed to be alive, but sobered by the realization that life would never be the same. Suddenly the over-active college grad could no longer work, hang out with friends, or spend time doing anything that required physical or mental energy.
Life had changed forever, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. I went searching for books to help me handle things in a biblical manner, but I didn’t find much. So I decided to study it out for myself.
Touching the Hem considers the questions of how to respond to sickness or injury, whether God still heals those things today, and how to seek that healing if He does.
It’s a primer for responding biblically to any sort of suffering, but especially life-changing physical illness or injury. The book begins with a thorough look upward at God—who He claims to be, what He has done for us in the past, and what He promises to do in the future. It then looks outward at our circumstances, observing physical affliction through the lens of God’s Word.
Only then does it turn the gaze inward, considering our response to physical suffering, and how to live according to biblical principles. It also includes several appendices, including a list of practical suggestions for dealing with illness, why we suffer trials, and suggestions for further reading.
Touching the Hem offers a biblically-sound message of hope and encouragement for all who have walked the same road I did, either for yourself or with a loved one. You who have suffered, and wondered how to glorify God in your suffering. You who have feared to ask if healing was possible. You who have been overwhelmed by physical grief. It was a life-changing study for me, and it can be the same for you!
But that’s not the end of the story . . .
When I wrote Touching the Hem, I was under the impression that I’d never get off my medications — and did not believe God’s plan for me included healing (although I knew He could heal me if He wanted to). In fact, up until 2 years ago, doctors told me would never be possible to get off my medications or have renewed levels of energy.
Studying out what God’s Word said about sickness and healing transformed my mindset and allowed me to rest contentedly in whatever God’s plan might be. He gave me limited strength to work and serve through writing and church ministry, and I learned a great many lessons about resting in His joy, leaning on His power, and trusting fully in His grace.
But then we moved to Wyoming, and something in the air started helping (seriously!). Over the past two years here, God has given me a measure of healing and renewed energy, and allowed me to start living a much fuller life of ministry. And I’m loving it!! I am so thrilled that God has allowed me to improve so dramatically and want to give Him ALL the glory for the progress that has been made.
Here’s the most thrilling part — eleven years after my diagnosis, I am slowly weaning off my main medications and have already been able to get off the immuno-suppressant completely!
That was the greatest cause of my chronic fatigue, and I’m already enjoying renewed levels of energy (plus, you know, not having those toxins in my system anymore is pretty sweet). I still have long-term damage I’m dealing with, and I still face the risk of a flare-up at any time, but I am praising God with every breath!
Clearly, God is greater than any diagnosis, and His ways are far beyond our understanding! If He chooses to continue healing me, that would be awesome. And that’s what I’m praying for.
But if not . . . then He is still good and loving and faithful.
And I can trust Him completely no matter what, even if my disease flares-up or other long-term effects appear. He is in control, not me, and if He chooses to allow more physical suffering, then He will give me the grace to deal with it. I’m just taking one day at a time, and resting confidently in His power!