We have a guest author writing our Ark Pantry blog this week. Susan is Sarah Mirfin’s mum. Thank you Susan for sharing your story to encourage us, and more importantly to point us all to our loving Saviour.

When I was thirteen years of age, from nowhere it seemed, I had increasing pain in my shoulder and back. If any of you have had severe toothache, you’ll know what it was like. It’s difficult to go about your everyday life and just shrug it off. The pain consumes you. If it was hot or cold outside the pain got worse.

The Holiday

I’ll never forget the holiday in Ilfracombe. 

The sun seemed particularly fierce on the Devon coast. I did, and still do now, suffer from cold sores when exposed to lengthy periods in the sun.  In those days we were yet to discover lip screen. After just one day on the beach, my lips came out with masses of cold sores around my mouth.

As if the fact that my face looked like a beehive wasn’t bad enough, my lips were so swollen I couldn’t eat, I could only drink through a straw.  Added to that, every move of my head sent pain down my neck, shoulders and back. The pain was extreme and waring, sapping the energy of a thirteen-year-old girl on holiday. I spent the whole week hidden away in the caravan, crying with pain that my parents couldn’t take away, no matter how much they rubbed my neck with Radian B.  

A Physiotherapist

As we got home, the cold sores healed, but the pain in my shoulder and back didn’t. My parents looked through the Yellow Pages and found a Physiotherapist. 

I still have vivid memories of being in a bedroom in a house at Thorne, near Doncaster with this man and my mum.  He took hold of my head and shoulder and quickly ‘manipulated’ it sideways where it cracked.  He laid me on my stomach on the bed and diagnosed ‘arthritis’. 

What followed were weeks of after school trips on a Friday. I remember dreading the trip in the ‘little ‘Daf’ car’, in pain as we bumped along the road, only to sit in a lounge of fifteen adults much older than me, with an electric box at my feet.

The electric box had wires trailing along the floor. At the end of the wires was a square metal plate.  These were placed on my shoulder blades with cotton wool in between. I was to sit still for about half an hour to let the electric current do its work.  He would then remove them, give me a good rub, and repeat the same ‘heat treatment’.  It didn’t seem much different to using Radian B and cost mum and dad a lot of money.

I don’t travel up the M18 now, seeing the white tower, without recalling those times of futile healing. Wasted Friday nights after school whilst my friends played out, only to be followed by another day of pain.

Throughout my teenage years, my parents continued to pay for treatment, but the pain never left.  Carrying schoolbooks was agony each day. But I managed to pass my CSE’s and go straight into a job in an accounts department. I was in the head office of Weston Pharmaceuticals.  This was very handy! The pain worsened when I had to visit the cold warehouse to have invoices signed, but I was able to quench this, and became dependent on the freely flowing painkillers. 

An Osteopath

In my parent’s wisdom, when they realised that the weekly visits to the Physiotherapist wasn’t improving my health, they discovered an Osteopath nearer to home in Sheffield. Consequently, one lunchtime each week, my dad would pick me up and take me to a flat on Stradbroke. 

This man had a totally different method to the Physiotherapist.  He would find the arthritic lumps and grind on one spot, using his hands. My dad could hear the cries of pain. 

Did this time and money help me at all?  Nope!

Prayer

As the weekly grind went on, little did I know that I would be taken down a path that would bring me ultimate healing.

It was common practice in church every week for the elders to ask if anyone wanted prayer for healing. I’d seen people go out for prayer.

My arthritis wasn’t getting any easier despite all the outside experts.  In fact, it was getting more painful. I’d read about other children like me and knew that, if this continued at the pace it was, I could easily be in a wheelchair before I was old. 

I’d also read the promise in the Bible. I knew it was a promise from God to me:

Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.

James 5 v 14 & 15 (NKJ)

I was sixteen years old at the time, having suffered a good couple of years now. My parents had tried everything.

Was this my time for God’s promise to come true in my life?  Not knowing that sometimes people go out for prayer and don’t actually get healed, I decided I would go ahead in faith and ask God for what I needed.

One Tuesday evening, quietly, after the prayer meeting, I asked the elders to pray for me. They anointed me with oil, placed their hands on my head and shoulders and prayed to our Father for healing.

The next morning, I still awoke with the same incredible, daily pain. I had the usual Radian B treatment and continued with the paracetamols.  Don’t ask me why I wasn’t healed straight away, I haven’t a clue.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways”, says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts”.

Isaiah 55 v 8 & 9 (NKJ)

All I know is I believed in His promise.  I had done my part, God would heal me, no doubt at all.

It was about two weeks later, after a long day at work, the pain was wearing on me heavily.  That night as I went to bed, I got down on my knees in desperation and talked to the Lord, like you do a friend.  I remember saying

‘O Lord, I know you are going to heal me, but please hurry up ‘cause I can’t stand it much longer’

And then I slept. 

No pain

The next morning, I went through the day with no pain, no Radian B, no paracetamols.

And again, the next day

and the next. 

Nearly fifty years later, not a sign of arthritis.  I’ve struggled on buses with two kids, shopping bags and a pram on my own and pushed my mum in a wheelchair.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God healed me, because His word is true, His promises never fail.  I just had to believe and come to him with simple faith that He was going to heal me, despite circumstances to the contrary.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11 v 1 (NKJ)

I do hope this story encourages you.

More than a story

But my healing isn’t just a nice story.

My healing of arthritis meant more than a warm glow, or even physical health. I am grateful for all the things I am able to do pain free. But for me, God’s healing was the foundation to my Christian walk with Him.  It was a lesson learned that I drew from in future years.

Despite losing my spleen through an act of violence years later, I could depend on Him and His word. Pain and healing made me hungry to read His word, knowing that whatever I read was true and I could believe and trust in a Saviour who cared for me.