by Grettel Loney
My journey with chronic pain began many years ago. If you haven’t read Part 1 of “My Journey with Chronic Pain,” please click here to read it before proceeding.
I had tried everything my doctors recommended, yet most of the time my pain was at a severe level. Sometimes my lower back felt on fire. Sometimes my muscles ached deeply and throbbed. Most of the time my legs were cramped and my hips burned. My days were long; my nights even longer. I felt hopeless. I feared getting older. If I felt this badly in my 30s, how in the world was I going to function in my 40s, 50s, and beyond? The pain was brutal, but sometimes I thought the fatigue was even worse. In my past life, I had been so energetic, yet now I had no energy for anything. I woke up exhausted. My meds were absolutely necessary, but made me even more tired.
The only thing I hadn’t tried over the years, no one ever suggested I should; I just knew it was somewhere in the Bible: if we were sick, go to the elders of the church, they should anoint us with oil, and the prayers offered in faith in the name of Jesus would make us well.
I hate to admit this, but it was almost a thought of resignation… like, “OK—I’ve tried everything else… might as well give this a shot.”
My husband and I had been attending First United Methodist church in downtown Tulsa sporadically. My back did not allow me to sit for very long without my pain skyrocketing. Church pews were absolutely “lovely.” That was code talk for “awful.” Anything that involved sitting I avoided at all costs: going out to eat, the movies, driving, etc. Thankfully we went at least every once in a blue moon, and we had a nice rapport with the senior pastor, Wade Paschal.
It was August 2010. My husband emailed the pastor and two weeks later, Pastor Wade had it all set up so that after the service, we would go upstairs to a room and people he thought of as faith-filled prayer warriors would anoint me with oil and pray for me.
The evening before that Sunday, I was reading in the book of Job. Job was a man known for his faith who loved and feared God… and had undeservedly gone through many trials. Perhaps God was trying to encourage me again with his story. That night, however, I felt drawn to skip to the end of the book. I love the part where God responds to Job. But this time I went to the very last chapter. It’s Job’s response to God. Basically Job has just heard God totally put him in his place. And Job gets it. He knows he should have never questioned Him. Job knows he spoke of things he was clueless about. And he was repentant. Job concludes, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” Something about that just leapt off the page and straight to my heart!
In that moment, I knew no matter what I was feeling, no matter how much pain I was living with, no matter all the things I could no longer do, HIS plans for me were good… and they could not and would not be stopped!
I didn’t know the next chapter of my life, much less how my story was going to end, but no doubt, it was going to be good.
That changed everything for me. I couldn’t wait for the next day, but you know what? I didn’t even feel like I needed to ask God for anything. I’d already asked God for my healing countless times before. Numerous people had been praying for me for years. Those verses gave me the faith I needed that everything was going to be OK.
The next day, we sat in church listening to Pastor Wade when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted and I wrote down “James” in my notes. I know the first chapter in James well. It’s one of the chapters I have read the most in my life because it has everything to do with facing trials. It’s been like a pep talk many times for me over the years. So I opened my Bible to James, but I was drawn to the last chapter, and my eyes went straight to James 5:13. That section has the title “The Prayer of Faith.”
” Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up… The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (New International Version)
Are you kidding me?! I hadn’t known where those verses were. I just knew them. And God led me straight to them during the service right before I was to be prayed for. Wow. It’s as if He was letting me know He was pleased with what we were doing out of obedience to His Word. I could hardly stand it. Clay and I went upstairs afterwards and I was anointed with oil, prayed over, and I had 100% peace everything was going to be OK… no matter what!
The next three days my meds worked like they had never worked before. If I were writing my own story, I would have ended it there and with “and she lived happily and pain-free ever after.” But as we all know, we don’t get to write our own stories.
Three days after I was prayed for, my pain came back with a vengeance.
School was just starting for the fall semester. Driving was the worst for me, and I drive a lot. My damaged nerves in my lower right back caused my entire right leg to ache all the way to my ankle, like a nasty toothache, and it was one of the hardest school years for me as a mom. Though I was still in much pain, though I still battled depression and feelings of desperation when I was so fatigued and hurting, God’s Word had given me the faith I needed to sustain me.
I continued in His Word, believing He was holding me in the palm of His hand. He loved me. He saw every tear. He knew every ounce of pain I felt. I was never alone.
There is much more to my story of chronic pain and my healing… but there will have to be a “Part 3.” For now, I want to encourage you—if you are ill, hurting, or both… and you’ve never been anointed with oil and prayed for by the elders of the church, please seriously consider doing so out of obedience to His Word.
May you be encouraged as you continue to face your trials. God never promised us a pain-free life, but Jesus said in John 16:33 (Amplified Version),
“In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration, but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted, be filled with joy]; For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
To Be Continued…
Grettel Loney moved to Tulsa in 1989 to attend Oral Roberts University. She is married and has two children: Bryant, a freshman at the University of Tulsa, and Gracie, a seventh grader at Carver Middle School. Grettel enjoys Bible study, playing the guitar, traveling, learning languages, and is an avid sports fan. Her other work for the918 includes her journey with chronic pain and tips to help with your spiritual New Year’s resolutions.