His swivel chair squeaked as he turned toward me with the news: "The ANA blood test came back positive … I'm sorry to inform you that you have systemic lupus – an incurable disease." The room suddenly felt chilled.
Stunned, I remembered a highlight in my career of competing against the game’s legends. It was the U.S. Open. I was playing against the world’s top professional player, Evonne Goolagong. I was chasing a lob shot and preparing to smash it. What an exhilarating feeling to catapult in the air, extending every muscle, and exerting maximum energy just to hit a fluffy tennis ball. As a professional tennis player, I relied upon my body to perform extraordinary feats for it was my passport to success. Daily, I buffeted it to make it stronger than the next, ignoring any pain along the way.
The doctor told me that lupus attacks one's immune system, causing it to turn against the body’s own healthy tissues. Lupus is not only incurable, but chronic and progressive. It’s a disease that can wreak havoc on any body organ. Living with lupus means a daily possibility tolerance of fever, anguishing joint pain, anemia, muscle weakness, kidney damage, concrete fatigue and exhaustion, intolerance to the sun - toppled with severe headaches and blurred vision.
I sat in a cubicle with no escape route as I listened to the doctor proclaim lupus as “one disease you don’t want, for it has a mind of its own.” God, how do you want me to respond? Like billboards at night in downtown Los Vegas, sermon and book titles on healing popped into my thoughts. But God, I need to hear from You concerning my physical healing? This hasn’t caught You unaware…
I had pushed my body too far. I incurred a bone spur that wouldn’t go away. It completely halted my career. Would I ever play again? Canceling all tournaments, I opted for surgery. It was successful yet three weeks afterwards, I had the exact same pain as before surgery. My career was over at the ripe old age of 23.
Then the extraordinary happened. One night, the television was on in the background when I heard a man blurt out from the screen, "There is a young lady with a bone spur on her left heel and God is going to heal you." Shaking, I dropped to my knees, tears streamed from my face, I tilted my head to heaven, ”Oh God, could You do this for me, would you heal me?"
Weeks passed. One morning I woke with no pain in my foot. I rushed to the court where it all began, where I first learned to hit a tennis ball. I tested my foot. Truly, God had healed my heel! I whipped my body back into playing shape and three months later I returned to the tour, traveling the world again.
Night after night for months, into the wee hours of the morning I searched Scripture. Often, in the Book of Psalms, David reminds God of His promises. Therefore, I recalled to my Heavenly Father numerous testimonies of instantaneous healings He performed on His children’s behalf.
Oh, how I preferred to be immediately healed. Yet, I sensed that God intended a different route for me. So I dug deeper. Line upon line, precept upon precept, I read every sentence in the Bible. Months passed before I entered the New Testament; still I received no word from God.
My spirit groaned as I talked to God: “Father, it’s a proven fact You are able and willing to heal Your children. So, what’s Your plan? Are you using this illness as a means of purification? Are there any sins in my life?” Questions showered my thinking
as I endeavored to “consider it all joy” in encountering trials (James 1:2).
Finally, forty-two books later, I found it! In Luke 17:14, it relates when lepers saw Jesus and bellowed to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us!” Jesus responded, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” Then, “as they went, they were cured and made clean (Amplified Bible).
I thoroughly repented of my sins, reminding God of my shortcomings from childhood to adult. At the cross of Christ, I left it all. At Jesus’ feet, I wept and rejoiced.
It was in my going each day that I would be healed. But what now? Patience! A virtue hard-pressed to find in my life.
As days passed into years, lupus continued to progress, yet I continued to believe in the healing power of God. The side effects of the many medications were taking its toll. Along with the physical weariness came a spiritual depletion.
Most days I was bone-tired by noon, unable to accomplish my daily ambitions. Yet, His grace was sufficient and I was able to complete two degrees while fulfilling my university teaching and coaching responsibilities.
Years passed and miraculous strength returned to my body. I had renewed energy and became steady afoot, I even regained a spring to my step. Friends noticed color blushed my face and my eyes sparkled again. It had been so long since I had felt good that I had forgotten what it was like. I had been touched by God. Truly, as I go God was healing me.
Through the years, like Abraham, I hoped against hope. And after years of waiting on God for healing, I finally realized the real pursuit wasn’t about healing at all - It was about building my faith.
Faith that has been stretched equips us to fight the good fight, to win. Through the journey of walking by faith, I learned of God’s sustaining and overcoming power. To the Christian, healing is just a side order on the main menu. The entrée is getting to know God.
Yes, God heard my pleas and faithfully brought healing to my life. Yet, instead of a stronger body, I have a stronger faith. Through physical hardships I have the privilege of knowing Him more intimately. And I’ve found that to love Him is to know Him.
If you’ve ever experienced a comeback, then you know God can do it again.
We are all God’s comeback kids!