Her body appeared lifeless as she lay there in the ditch on the side of the road, right in front of her house. Only five years old. Two panicked older brothers, ages seven and nine, raced back up the driveway, screaming for their parents to come quickly.
Whether she chased her brothers, a stray cat or her paper airplane into the road, nobody knew. Nor did anyone realize she never saw the car headed straight toward her.
When her mom and dad reached her little body, broken and bruised, they found her knocked unconscious. Blood oozed from her forehead where her head banged on the hood of the car, but she still breathed and showed signs of life. Her family held on to hope as they waited for the paramedics to arrive.
Evening turned into morning, yet their little girl didn’t wake up. She lay there unresponsive in her hospital bed, day after day, with her head stitched up and her broken leg hanging in traction. Nurses came in and out of her room, along with other patients, yet she remained unconscious. Would she fall into a coma? Would they soon confront neurological damage? Would their daughter ever wake up? They couldn’t imagine why God might cut her life so short.
“Heal our little girl!” They desperately cried out to God.
After an entire week in the hospital, I finally regained consciousness and opened my eyes. I woke up terrified. Bandages wrapped around my head. My right leg hung in the air, held by a metal pin going straight through my lower leg. I no longer found words to express myself. It took me several days to even remember how to talk.
Over the next week, I gained more vocabulary every day, eventually begging for the Halloween candy in my plastic orange pumpkin sitting in the windowsill. My mom spent every day with me and fed me my favorite foods from my lunchbox thermos. Visitors came with gifts, balloons and flowers. I remember a school friend who visited and brought a game with her, and I can still see my favorite doll on roller skates sitting on my bed beside me. But I don’t recall much of anything else.
I started the rest of my life at the ripe age of five knowing God not only spared me, but He healed my broken body. I relearned how to talk quickly, and I learned how to run, walk and jump again after living in a body cast for five long weeks. No brain damage. No long repercussions, other than waiting years for my leg lengths to even out again. Not even a long hospital stay. I recovered, and life went on. I keep a newspaper clipping still today of another car accident the same week involving a small child who didn’t make it, reminding me God doesn’t always choose to spare a life or to heal a broken body. So I don’t take for granted that He became Jehovah Rapha to me through that accident.
The God who heals. Physically.
Over twenty-five years later, I found my marriage in desperate need of a Jehovah Rapha. We couldn’t make it a day longer without divine healing. We talked to friends older and wiser than ourselves. We sought counseling. But nothing really changed. Sin separated us, pushing our marriage so far apart that it seemed irreparable. Even our Christian counselor recommended a separation and possibly divorce.
Through a divinely timed phone call, our lives turned upside-down, and God whisked us over a thousand miles away to start over. He uprooted us and planted us on firm ground, sparing our marriage from inevitable divorce. Penniless, but at least we had a chance to rebuild once the dust from our sudden move settled.
But the damage didn’t easily reverse itself. It moved those thousand miles right along with us. We needed more than a spared marriage. We needed healing before the bitterness poisoned every last ounce of hope that remained. We despised each other. We could barely stand the sight of each other. I wanted out, but for the sake of our two-year-old son, we pressed on toward a hopeful future.
Nearly four years later, I still struggled. My heart grew cold as time kept passing. I felt little for the man I married, despite new counseling, new adventures, financial breakthroughs, a marriage class, and a new church family.
“So tell me how you’re doing spiritually at this point in your life.” What did I say? Should I fake another spiritual answer or just speak frankly? All ten eyes stared at me when my turn came to answer the question over dinner with our small group from church.
“Honestly, that’s a good question. I really don’t know. I read my Bible, journal my prayers, and faithfully have my quiet time early every morning. But I still feel pretty dead inside.”
One pair of eyes looked compassionately into mine. She knew because she apparently walked in my shoes before. She later shared with me privately about her own experience of walking through bitterness. She recommended I read Stormie Omartian’s book, The Power of a Praying Wife.
“It surprised me, Rachelle. It didn’t change him. It changed me.” I didn’t think I needed much changing, but I agreed to give it a shot. I yearned for the intimacy she had with Christ, so I respected anything she suggested.
I waited until summer time so I could leisurely sit out on my porch to read each morning. After I read each chapter, I prayed the prayer at the end over my husband. When I finished the book, I paper-clipped the pages with the prayers and continued to pray a different one every day.
What started as a rote exercise soon turned into something I passionately anticipated doing. My heart softened a little bit more each day, and I started to see my husband as who God made him rather than for all the ways he didn’t meet my expectations. I saw his potential rather than his failures. I saw his future in Christ. I prayed for him in new ways and over areas I never thought to pray for earlier in our marriage. I prayed Scripture over my husband every single morning, and God rewarded my faithfulness.
One morning half-way through the summer, I came to the sudden realization that bitterness no longer reigned when I remembered the past. It didn’t just melt away. It completely disappeared.
He didn’t change. I did. Everything inside me changed. My heart soon held warmth where it used to feel ice cold. And when my heart finally softened, he changed in ways I didn’t expect. God did the changing, not me. The whole climate of our home transformed.
God became my Jehovah Rapha again, this time to heal me emotionally, rather than physically. My marriage finally began to heal, but the healing started with me. It all began with a surrendered heart, coming to God in prayer first thing every morning. Now seven years later, I continue to pray those same prayers over my husband and my marriage early each morning, knowing better than to start my day any other way.
Connect With Rachelle
Follow me on my blog: www.fromtheheartofrachelled.blogspot.com
Read our adoption story, in pieces, on my book blog: www.unexpectedtearsbook.blogspot.com
Or purchase my book, Unexpected Tears, on Amazon:
(The sequel, Painful Waiting, is still in production.)