Last summer Jonah started throwing up. He wasn’t showing any other symptoms of being sick, and his stomach has always been a trigger for stress, illness, worry… So at first, we thought this was just a result of too many things happening back to back. Family had visited, he had been to a week-long animation day-camp, and now he was involved in helping our church with vacation bible school.
Except it didn’t stop. Two weeks later, Jonah was still throwing up. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. He had no appetite and was dropping serious weight. He had become very lethargic and was having bad headaches.
At first, our family doctor recommended, and we agreed, to try some of the more simple possible solutions. But as those failed, we moved on to seeing specialists and agreed to various testing and diagnostic procedures. By November, the medical world still had no answers and one specialist had even suggested that Jonah was just too sensitive and needed to learn to ignore these symptoms, which another child would likely consider normal and not worth noticing. We walked away from that specialist’s office resolved to not return.
By this point, Jonah was not participating in the majority of his usual activities. And while he was no longer throwing up, he was still nauseous every day, experiencing headaches, severe joint pain, extreme exhaustion, skin rashes, and emotional ups and downs. Because he seemed to react more after meals, Scott and I felt that this had to be food related. And so, beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we put the entire family on the 30 Day Paleo diet as a way to eliminate the majority of foods which we felt might possibly be a problem for Jonah.
Within five days, we began to see our son return to his normal energetic, enthusiastic, motivated self. He was being loud, running around the apartment, and wanting to play outside again. We were thrilled! We finished the thirty days and began adding in food groups.
Jonah reacted. Strongly.
At first, we were glad. Finally, we knew what was causing problems. We added in dairy and Jonah reacted, so we took dairy back out. We added in gluten and Jonah reacted, so we took gluten back out. Then we started adding in small amounts of sugar and gluten-free flours, and Jonah seemed to be okay. Great, we thought. Dairy and gluten. We can handle that. But Jonah started reacting more, and we were no longer sure what the problem was. We tried to modify our diet, but the more we tweaked the more Jonah seemed to react.
Then in March, Jonah had a bad reaction. The only foods we could connect at all to the reaction were potato and tomato, which we had eaten throughout the diet. We thought, perhaps Jonah was developing a new intolerance because we were eating more potato than we used to. So we took nightshades out of our diet and saw some improvement, although Jonah kept reacting. Throughout March Jonah’s reactions remained very random and began increasing in intensity. We were beginning to wonder if food intolerances had simply been masking some deeper problem. Frustrated and overwhelmed, we were lost on how to proceed.
Throughout this time, a great number of people interceded for us and for Jonah through prayer. Friends, family, and Scott’s prayer team (assembled to pray for Scott and our family throughout Scott’s ordination process) all joined with us to pray consistently and continually for Jonah’s health. There are not words to express how much we benefited from this prayer. We felt God’s strength and wisdom through all of this and saw evidence of His help as we met with and discussed options with various medical professionals.
As March was coming to a close and Holy Week was approaching, Scott and I were praying earnestly for wisdom. We were concerned that this might be Jonah’s new “normal” and that we might be facing a long-term battle of natural health supplements and constant dietary modifications. We had a couple of options for proceeding, but God alone knew the best way for us to help Jonah.
The evening of Holy Saturday, we headed to church for the Easter Vigil. We have always loved this service with the quiet, dark, solemnity of the first half and the loud, boisterous, brightness of the second half. Honestly though, with two birthdays and all the extra activities of the week, we were exhausted and had half considered staying home. Jonah wasn’t feeling good, Meghan was fussy, we had rushed through Abby’s birthday dinner…and I still had a messy kitchen to clean. But we love this service.
I spent the first half of the service, the quiet half, with Meghan in the cry room. I didn’t join Scott and the kids in the pew until after the celebration of Christ’s resurrection…after the ringing of the bells…after the sermon. We partook in the First Eucharist of Easter and as the service concluded, we walked to the parish hall to enjoy the feast. As we walked, Jonah told me that he felt really good. He had lots of energy. I told him I was very happy about that, which I was. We cherished those brief times when Jonah didn’t feel so sick. But at that moment I was tired, distracted, and barely paying attention.
During the feast, and on the way home, Jonah mentioned another time or two how good he felt. And finally I started to realize. He was trying to tell me, in the thoughts of a twelve-year-old, not that he simply felt good, but that he had been healed.
It was almost eleven o’clock by the time we arrived home from the Vigil. Scott was serving at the Easter service the next morning, and we were all planning to attend the service with him. We were exhausted and needing sleep. So we prayed as a family, thanking God and praising Him, and we hugged the kids good night. It was not until this moment, two to three hours later, that we finally slowed down enough to listen to Jonah. He told us that God had healed him and that he believed it was permanent.
And then he went to bed.
Scott and I chose that night to believe Jonah and to have faith that God had indeed permanently healed our son. And it was a choice. Because even though there were 150-200 other people in that church Saturday night, including Scott who sat shoulder-to-shoulder with Jonah, God chose not to include anyone else as witness to that miraculous moment.
There are, of course, those doubts. Are we sure he is fully healed? Maybe we should wait awhile before we tell anyone… We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief! Scott and I both echoed the father’s prayer from Mark 9:24 again and again throughout that first night and continuing for days.
The next morning we shared the news at church and then we went out to lunch and Jonah ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, tomato soup, and a soda. And he thoroughly enjoyed his meal! :-)
Please rejoice with us over Jonah’s healing and restoration, give all the glory to our Heavenly Father and the mighty works that he has wrought in our family. Rejoice with us that our son has been restored to us, and the mighty way God answers the prayers of his people. Thank God with us for his strength and provision for our family and his never ending love. Please pray with us that God would be honored in our lives and that those who may doubt this healing would be silenced before God and that our son, and our family, would not be put to shame in claiming the promise, reality, and miracle of this healing. This healing had nothing to do with our diet, our doctors, or anything other than God pouring out His healing upon our son at His time and in His place. We praise our Risen Lord!
~~Quote from an email that Scott sent to his prayer team on Easter Sunday 2013