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For Those Who Don't Get Their Miracle

Lillian Duncan

Published May 14, 2024
For Those Who Don't Get Their Miracle

If I’ve learned anything from my journey with my brain tumors and NF2, it is that God is faithful and trustworthy.

God is good—all the time.

I hear this phrase a lot, usually after someone is facing a difficult situation but their prayers have been answered in a positive way. In other words, when God gave them the miracle they prayed for.

That’s all well and good. I’m happy for them—truly. But what about the rest of us? What about those of us who don’t get our miracle? What about the ones who still face adversity with no end in sight?

Nobody wants hardships, yet most of us will face them many times. It’s a part of life. Being a Christian—even the most faithful of one—doesn’t make us immune to life’s problems.

What if my faith isn’t as strong as I think?  

That question started haunting me in the latter part of 2011. I couldn’t understand why. I was pleased with the progress in my spiritual journey. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect (far from it), but I’m certainly a kinder, gentler soul than I used to be. But in the back of my mind that scary thought kept creeping to the front: what if my faith isn’t as strong as I think?

It’s easy to have faith when life is good. I’d accomplished a long-time dream of becoming a traditionally published author, had a godly husband to share life with, and had a part-time job that gave us extra spending money and was one I enjoyed. 

But the thought wouldn’t go away. In hindsight, I wonder if it wasn’t God whispering that I needed to get ready—a storm was coming.

And it did!

When Storms Come

On April 1st, I developed Bell’s Palsy, an inflammation of the facial nerve. Basically, one side of my face became paralyzed over the next two days—while we were on vacation. No movement of my lips, cheeks, or anything connected with my eye, the brows, or the lids.

On a practical level, what the partial paralysis meant was that I couldn’t eat, drink, or speak normally. I’m not even going to talk about what I looked like! 

At that time, I was a school speech pathologist. So, now I was a speech pathologist with her own speech problems. Of course, everyone tried to reassure me that my speech wasn’t that bad, but believe me, I could hear every mistake I made.

That was enough to test my faith, don’t you think? 

One of my family doctors insisted I have an MRI—just to be sure everything was okay. After the procedure, I received a phone message that said, “You have two shadows on your MRI that might be something called a schwannoma.” Notice the word “might.”

“Might” sounded good to me, so I ignored the message. After all, I’d never heard of a schwannoma, so how bad could it really be? When I went to my next doctor’s appointment, she wasn’t happy that I hadn’t followed through with the MRI. The next day she called to tell me I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon the next day. 

Wow! When your doctor calls to say you have an appointment with a neurosurgeon the next day, you know things are serious. 

The neurosurgeon told me I had bilateral brain tumors as well as a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). It allows tumors to grow anywhere in my body that has nerve endings so…that’s a lot of places.

I’d obviously misjudged the seriousness of those shadows. My doctors recommended I have something called Gamma Knife Surgery, which isn’t a surgery at all but rather a super-duper radiation treatment. My first treatment was in August 2012.

Fast forward to December 2012. One moment everything was normal in my life, then the next it wasn’t. All of a sudden, there was a symphony in my head: music, smoke alarms, ringing, ocean waves. You name it, and I was hearing it.

It took me a few seconds, but I figured out what was going on. I’d been warned that my tumor would probably swell and cause some “issues.” They gave me an emergency set of steroids, so I started them right away.

My life took on a new pattern after that. I struggled to find my “new normal.” I would write for an hour or so each day if I felt good enough, go shopping once a week if I felt good enough, and try to go to church on Sundays if I felt good enough. Unfortunately, there were many days when I didn’t feel good enough, so most of my days consisted of sitting in a chair and watching TV.

When Storms Continue

I had my second treatment in October 2013 and pretty much had a repeat of the first treatment. More hearing loss. More balance issues. More fatigue. I continued to be on and off steroids to try to save my hearing along with another treatment called Avastin. I developed neuropathy in my hands, arms, feet, and legs and couldn’t walk without a walker. 

Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:13 were my go-to verses during those horrible days, weeks, and years. They comforted me and strengthened me. So, even as I grew weaker physically, my faith grew stronger.

On my worst days, Philippians 4:13 became my mantra: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I knew I could get through these bad days because the Bible said I could.

Each time I repeated Romans 8:28—"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”—I would be reminded that God would work my circumstances out for my good. That I could trust Him because He loved me, and He’d promised me that it would all work out. The more I repeated it, the more I believed it.

In April 2017, I was finally able to stop my treatments. Praise God! It had been five years since being diagnosed with brain tumors and NF2. The treatment that I was supposed to take two years ended up taking almost five!

This was such a difficult season of my life. I went from a relatively healthy person to a person with a multitude of health problems that affect my daily life even to this day. But even amid all my “issues,” God has blessed me mightily, including the continued ability to create and write Christian fiction novels.

Life has its hills and valleys. We can’t avoid all the valleys whether we are “good” Christians or not. Unfortunately, when life isn’t going our way, we might start to question our faith—maybe we aren’t good enough—maybe God doesn’t love us anymore—maybe God is mad at us—maybe...maybe...maybe.

The questions can go on and on, and if we aren’t careful, our faith can get shaky and weak, just what the devil wants. I’m all for a little complaining and whining to God about our circumstances, but somewhere along the way our faith needs to kick in and take over.

How to Face the Storms

A few things that helped me during those difficult years to keep my faith were:

1. Spend time with God. I can’t imagine how people can go through crises without God. There are many ways to enjoy God’s presence: music, nature, and church, to name a few. 

2. Spend time in the Bible. There truly is power in God’s Word, but it doesn’t happen without some effort on our part. During this low point in my life, reading, studying, and praying Scriptures brought me peace and strength to get through each day.

3. Pray! Pray! Pray! God is with us in our pain. You can talk to Him, complain to Him, and ask Him for both your needs and your wants. When you feel like no one else is listening to you, God is. 

4. Praise and thanksgiving. I really believe this is crucial during difficult times. I would make mental lists of all the things God had done for me. As the list grew, it was impossible to be angry at my circumstances at that moment. God is to be praised for who He is and not just for what He does for us.

5. Love others. It’s so easy to become self-absorbed when we’re in a crisis. But Jesus commanded us to love others. It’s important to make an effort to love others, especially during difficult times. It might be something as simple as saying thank you to someone.

When adversity comes, and it most likely will, then we must decide that we will not give up. Instead, we will face adversity in a godly way—in a way that will honor God.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” If I’ve learned anything from my journey with my brain tumors and NF2, it is that God is faithful and trustworthy. He loves us and will not forsake us, but we are the ones who need to come to Him. 

God is there waiting for us because God is good all the time!

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/LillyRoadstones

Lillian Duncan, a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team, is a multi-published author and former speech pathologist for children. Her tagline for many years was “stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem” since she wrote Christian suspense and mystery novels. In 2012, she was told, “You have bilateral brain tumors.” She had no idea how much those words would change her life, but they did. She still loves to write suspense and mystery novels but branched out into other genres. Her goal is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, visit http://www.lillian-duncan.com.She also has a devotional blog at http://www.PowerUpWithGod.com.