A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, June 2021

Recently, I was talking on the phone with a beloved friend. She had received a troubling diagnosis, and we were hashing through all the details, treatments, and concerns. I was brimming with emotion and fully focused on learning more information from her. For all of these reasons, I naturally averted my gaze when my daughter sat down right beside me on the sofa. I did not wish to communicate availability at that moment or invite distraction into my important conversation. The little girl was marginally patient yet fully undeterred. She did not budge.

When I finally hung up the phone, my daughter’s face was within inches of mine, eyes wide with excitement.

“Mama, did you know that starfish can actually REGROW parts of their body?! Their arms or legs can FALL OFF, but then no problem because BAM, a whole new one starts to grow right back in its place, even if it takes a really, really long time!”

The whiplash of this non-sequitur, unexpectedly rushing in on the heels of an emotional conversation, left me without response.

“Well…? Isn’t that awesome?!” she pressed.

I looked back at her, into the wide-open innocence of her freckled face. The clear blue of her eager eyes. And I thought back to the moment– almost eight years ago to the day– when I promised God I would do anything in the world if He would save her brand new life.

It was an exceptionally hot day in June of 2013 when a neighbor invited me to bring my two babies (a toddling 19-month-old son and a nearly 3-month-old daughter) over to sit by their inflatable pool. My little boy was so excited when he heard this news that he ran out of the door before I could strap on his sandals. As soon as the tender skin of his little feet hit the asphalt’s heat in our driveway, it set a terrible series of events into motion. His anguished screams terrified my soul as I could see the soles of his feet instantly blister. I rushed to crouch next to him and tried to pick him up with my free arm; but as his chubby arms flailed in pain, his little sister got caught in the commotion. She toppled out of my panicked arms and onto the driveway below.

God only knows how the three of us made it to the ER. Truly, God only knows. What I do recall, though, is that once the kind doctors had performed all of the X-rays and run all of the CT scans, they looked achingly apologetic to report that our daughter’s injury was serious. Her tiny skull was fractured in two places, and they were not at all certain that she would be alright.

Oh, how my husband and I prayed. And wept. And then prayed some more.

There will surely be times in all of our lives when prayer is all that exists– continual, pleading, promising, full-body-mind-and-soul prayer. In those moments, God shows us that prayer is all we need, even though healing is all we crave.

Healing. What is healing other than a miracle? For something to be broken… and then whole again. How impossible to comprehend. The miraculous, awe-inspiring, and relieving process of healing is almost beyond belief.

And as too many of us know, of course, physical healing does not always occur in the exact ways we wish. Sometimes the healing that takes place through prayer is something more relational, something more deeply spiritual. How many times have I sustained a physical injury or had my feelings hurt or felt my heart break in one way or another? Too many to count. And how many times have I prayed for something specific and tangible to change in order to ease the pain? Again, the answer is innumerable. To be sure, some of my most fervent prayers have not been answered in the ways I wanted at the time, yet here I am. Whole-hearted and grateful– a human starfish covered in scars but still kicking, learning all the while to lean into God’s grace and provision more fully. The same goes for my dear friend. The same goes for my little girl. The same goes for all of us. Human starfish whom God created to be far more resilient than we could ever humbly predict or boldly imagine in our wildest dreams. Healing abounds in myriad ways, even if it takes a “really, really long time.”

“Wellll??”

The present day eight-year-old girl who sat in front of me persisted. She still wanted to know what I thought about her “awesome” revelation.

Well… how could she know that she had just laid out for me a perfect metaphor of God’s miraculous healing? That she, herself, was as miraculous as a regenerating star of the sea? My heart flooded with hope for my friend and gratitude for my daughter. And as I pulled her little body onto my lap, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to answer just how awesome I found it all to be.

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