The night we prayed over a one-armed woman in MCV’s emergency room started innocently enough.
Julia and I were leading Tuesday night Bible study at my first floor duplex on Idlewood. Every week we’d have between six to twelve women (mostly college age) packed in my cheery yellow living room to share food, laughs, and our thoughts on whatever Scripture we were studying together.
One Tuesday Julia came over early and we snuggled in my bed, eating pizza and reading the blog of a woman whose husband was battling a brain tumor. We marveled at her faith, and as we read my phone kept chiming. One after one, the women sent messages apologizing, saying they wouldn’t be able to come.
It was ridiculous and so strange. This had never happened before; sure, one or two might not be able to come on any given week, but all of them? Unheard of.
Tina messaged next. Her text was different. She said she’d just been in a car accident and was at MCV Hospital. Julia and I glanced around the empty house and simultaneously said, “Let’s go.”
Tina cried when she saw us. Her entire family, excluding one brother she wasn’t close with, lived two hours away, so she was relieved to have people who cared about her with her in this scary situation.She had prayed for God to send a friend, and here we were! She had a neck brace, but otherwise seemed okay. Twenty minutes later her brother showed up, and with a two-visitor policy, one of us had to go to the waiting room.
Julia took a seat,and a few minutes later I went out to trade. She was sitting next to a black woman in her fifties. The lady looked distraught as she and Julia talked, and as I glanced down I noticed half of her arm was missing, ending in a scarred stump. I took the empty chair on the woman’s other side.
The woman’s story spilled out. She had panic attacks and needed medication, but she had no money and couldn’t afford the pills. No one would come pick her up, even though she had a son twenty minutes away in Southside. She felt totally abandoned by her family, though she’d lost half her arm protecting her grandson in an explosion at her home a few years back.
She was shaking and the tears spilled over. Julia and I asked if we could pray for her.
There, in the crowded waiting room, we placed hands on the woman’s back and arm and began to speak of God’s love and power. We asked him to heal what was broken, to calm her anxiety, and to show her that she was never alone. I also may have unknowingly prayed the verse ” the arm of the LORD is not shortened” over her and collapsed laughing in the parking lot when I realized what I’d said.
I only had about thirty dollars on me, but I gave it all to her so she could get a cab.
Let’s be real. This woman was probably an addict of some sort. I know it now and I knew it then. However, I firmly believe that God arranged all the circumstances that night so Julia and I could not only be with Tina, but be grace, peace, and compassion to a woman who was hurting and alone. Thirty dollars was nothing compared to the opportunity to be Jesus to a desperate soul.
I will never forget her, or that crazy, God-soaked Tuesday night.
For hearts so satisfied in Christ that sin loses all appeal, starting with me!
*For God to show up and show off by healing my friend J from the mysterious illness that is draining her energy and causing masses to grow in her back.