Last summer I had a stroke that damaged my vision and my hearing among other things. My vision has held the greatest focus for much of my recovery; there's just so much you can't do when you suddenly can't see. As my brain began to heal, my vision improved enough that I was able to read a little and could start driving short distances again, but the hearing loss just wasn't improving.
Now, those who know me well knew my hearing was already a little damaged by high decibel foolishness as a teen, but this was very different. After the stroke, I found myself constantly trying to turn up the volume on my phone because I couldn't hear the person I was talking to, only to look at the phone and find it was already turned up all the way. And in our ladies Bible study, I couldn't hear the leader; I was only able to participate in the discussion by responding to what the women sitting near me were saying.
The Audiology Report
On Friday, April 13, I went to see an audiologist at UNC who tested my hearing and determined I had mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss in the lower frequencies and moderate to severe in the higher frequencies, which are related to clarity of speech (like distinguishing between sh, ch, b, p, etc.). Then she told me the damage was not outer ear related, and that for most people with this kind of damage hearing aids don't help enough to warrant the cost; she also said there was nothing else that could be done. NOT the answers I wanted to hear.
You can probably guess, I left a little discouraged. Thankfully as I rode home, talking with my driver, I was reminded that my trust isn't in hearing aids and that nothing is impossible with God. That afternoon I felt a clear conviction that on Sunday I should ask the elders to pray for me.
So many things about that Sunday were a blessing. In worship we proclaimed that our God is the lion of Judah, fighting our battles, the lamb whose blood breaks the chains that bind us. That “He Who is mighty has done a great thing… / I rejoice in the God Who saves / I will trust His unfailing love / I will sing His praises all my days.” Those lyrics really stood out to me, the Holy Spirit pressing them on my heart. And words given at the prophecy mic reinforced them: The Lord will fight for you, drink deeply from the well of His unfailing love for you, His promises are true.
The sermon was out of Isaiah 53:4-12. Jesus was pierced for our transgressions. He received our griefs, our sorrows, all our iniquities and their penalty laid on Him. And what did we receive? Peace, healing, and restoration. At the end of his sermon, Daniel said they wanted to have a time of prayer for the sick, whatever that sickness might be, great or small. And he really encouraged us to try not to put limits on our request: like, I'll ask for prayer for sickness A, because I think God can probably do that and probably will, but I'm not gonna pray for B because there's no way that's gonna happen. “Just come forward and ask, and let God decide how He will answer.”
At my seat I wrote a prayer in my sermon journal during the closing song:
Holy, holy, holy are you, Lord. In the deepest darkest places, shine your light. I need you.
Oh my soul, magnify the Lord! I will trust in the God who saves.
And that's what I said when I went up for prayer, “I will trust in the God who saves.” I didn't ask for prayer strictly for my hearing, though that was part of it. Honestly, I pretty much asked for prayer for “everything” (vision, hearing, PTSD). Whatever God would do. All of it? Yes, please. Or only part of it? Yes, please. I will trust the God who saves.
So one of the pastors and a couple on the prayer team prayed for me: for health in my body, for the damage to my vision and hearing caused by the stroke, for healing in my spirit, for joy and peace and freedom from fear. When they finished praying, I went back to my seat, a little overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit's presence and wondering when I would know how God had chosen to answer. And I wanted to write down some of what we had prayed.
The very next time I was on the phone, I got my initial answer. I had gone from trying to turn up my phone because I couldn't hear to needing to turn it down because people are stinkin' loud! My 2nd confirmation was at our ladies Bible study meeting when I could hear the leader. Finally being able to hear her lead the whole discussion was such a blessing. I was so excited I texted the pastor and my best friend as the meeting was ending: I could hear Beth! Across the room, with vaulted ceilings, and I could hear her!
I don't know why God has chosen not to heal the vision-related brain damage caused by my stroke in the same manner, but I do know that our God is a God who answers prayer. Sometimes He says, “Yes, immediately,” like He did with my hearing. But, sometimes He says, “No.” And sometimes He says, “Wait, be patient. Trust my way, my timing.” Yet I can still say, “Praise God,” even then because I have learned that somehow the slower healing process, and even the “no's”, are for His glory and for my good as I have seen again and again with the PTSD.
Our God is a God who hears our cries and answers our prayers, always.
One last thing, God did also answer, “yes,” to some of the other prayers that Sunday for joy and peace and more freedom from fear… but that's a different testimony. You'll have to ask me about it some time.