When Your Healing Story Turns Out to Be an Epic

The leaves are stubbornly green. The calendar says October, but the weary heat is still spread thick, like someone forgot to pack up summer and put it away.

It’s exhausting to wait while a season hangs on long after it was supposed to change.

October holds echoes of a lot of loss for my family. Most years hope sings over the echoes, coming in on cool autumn breeze while the trees glow a golden promise that all things are being made new. But this year the hot air is still, and the leaves are just curling brown on tired branches. It’s like the Carolinas have forgotten how to move forward in the wake of the hurricane’s trauma.

Oh, beloved Carolinas, I understand.

Trauma’s a funny thing. Sometimes it feels like the turning seasons have wiped most of it away, and then all of a sudden there’s a trigger — that news story, that song, that forgotten pair of shoes still stained with the dust of a road you didn’t want to walk. And the memory sits heavy on your pounding chest yet again.

It’s the again-ness of it all that makes it hard.

I wanted our healing to be a short story, resolved and wrapped up neatly in a few pages. And it’s just not. It’s turning out to be more like an epic.

But you know what? I think that’s okay. Maybe more than okay. Maybe even really, exactly what it’s supposed to be.

Because God writes epics. The stories in the Bible are complex and messy and glorious and thousands of years in the making. They wind and spiral, folding back on themselves in dizzying again and again-ness.

The Israelites wandering for forty years.

Generations of priests and kings choosing their own way over God’s.

Exile and slavery and freedom and exile again.

A long awaited Savior whose rescue looks nothing like quick political might and everything like a Shepherd calling His lambs one by one.

God’s plan is too deep and wide to be anything but a long, long story.

Here, where we live in the unresolved middle, where God’s work seems so slow, it can be easy to think that maybe healing isn’t on His mind at all. How often when we pray for healing do we hedge our bets? If it’s your will, God… Please heal if you want to…

The truth is that God’s desire is always for healing. His heart beats for our restoration.

It’s not His willingness to heal that’s in question — it’s our understanding of what healing looks like.

When I was growing up, my dad was the only medical care provider for the entire region around the remote village where we lived in the southern Philippines. People would line up on our front porch to be seen for coughs, dental issues, injuries, and sometimes even minor surgeries. One day a family from a community an hour away showed up with a young boy who had fallen onto a rotten stump. There was wood lodged deep in his cheek, and I remember cringing as he moaned through having it removed bit by bit. After my dad thoroughly cleaned the puncture wound, he packed the boy’s cheek with gauze, leaving the skin open under a bandage. For the next week the boy and his family made the two hour round trip every day to have his wound cleaned and packed with fresh gauze. It was a difficult, painful process, but an absolutely necessary one. If my dad had simply cleaned the wound and stitched the skin closed, it’s likely that a dangerous infection would have developed in the unhealed tissue beneath the surface.

That little boy needed to heal on the inside first, before it was safe for the outside to heal.

We can be so desperate for healing we can see that we miss the deeper healing already happening.

Maybe the deepest healing that needs to happen isn’t the shrinking of a tumor or the resolving of a conflict or the easing of PTSD symptoms. Maybe the anxious ache in the waiting holds us still so God can begin our healing where we’re most tender, where His Spirit meets ours and restores us from the inside out.

Your restoration is in the hands of Someone who isn’t content to stitch you back together and send you on your way. Jesus doesn’t want to leave you half way to wholeness. He’s with you, healing and healing and healing, moving you beyond just being able to function and into made-new freedom.

Courage, friend. Rest in the hands that were pierced for our healing. Before we know it we’ll be standing on the edge of our Forever Story, seeing His fingerprints all over those weary chapters behind. The healing that’s coming is worth the wait.

It really is.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea… Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The LORD of Heaven’s armies is among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” ~Psalm 46:1-2,10-11 (NLT)


  1. Jean Davis
    Oct 10, 2018

    Always like your articles! Your Aunt Vivian is a friend from yrs. ago.

  2. Mary Beth Johnson
    Oct 10, 2018

    Thank you for this, Beth. I’ll be re-reading your insightful post as I contemplate and go through my bittersweet October days. I just now read it; it was posted on what would’ve been my son’s 29th birthday. The 22nd was my wedding anniversary with my late first husband but it’s also the same day Jeff gave me my engagement ring to marry him.

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