My Prayer for Healing Led Me to Lourdes

He cured all who were sick (Matthew 8:16). He cured all of them (Matthew 12:15). All who touched his cloak were healed. (Matthew 14:36). He laid his hands on each of them and cured them (Luke 4:40). 

I have suffered from moderate to severe eczema and other skin and allergy issues since I was 11 years old. We do not know what triggered it, and we have not yet found a way to cure it. Sometimes it’s manageable, and other times I am driven to my knees, tearfully begging God for relief.

I Stopped Praying for Healing

As a child, I prayed often for healing. I knew God was loving and that he might grant this request. But healing did not come. So I decided this must be my cross to bear in life. I previously had asked God to let me have my purgatory out on earth, so I figured he must have decided to answer that prayer instead. So I stopped asking for healing.

Almost three years after graduating from Franciscan University, I discerned God wanted me to put my talents at the service of his Church. I found a job at Our Sunday Visitor, and moved away from my family and friends to start serving.

I soon joined a parish and then attended a retreat with the intention of getting to know people. But God had other plans. Matthew 7:7-8 chased me around the entire retreat.

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I was surprised, and a little scared. God wanted me to ask for healing. And not only that, I felt a prompting to go to Lourdes. At least I thought so. I wasn’t sure, I convinced myself. I didn’t go.

What Does God Want for Me?

A few years later, in a different city working for Dynamic Catholic, my condition was worsening significantly. I felt it again. God wanted me to go to Lourdes. It seemed mildly ridiculous. It was winter. It costs money to travel to Europe. And isn’t Lourdes for people with deadly illnesses or terrible malformities? Not for people like me. After all, Our Lady told Bernadette (my confirmation saint), I cannot promise you happiness in this world, only in the next. And suffering is redemptive. So why would God take it away?

But I couldn't shake it. After praying about it and talking about it with my now husband, we made the decision. We would go to Lourdes. It was a quick trip. And it was freezing since it was December. But we went.

A Pilgrimage to Lourdes

It is hard for me to describe the trip. I was confident God wanted me to go, but I had no idea why. Maybe he wanted to heal me physically. Maybe he wanted to heal me spiritually. Maybe it was simply for me to act in faith. Whatever it was, I tried to be open to it.

The day we went to the baths was nerve wracking. I restlessly fingered my rosary beads as I sat in line outside, watching my breath form in quick puffs in the cold air. I was alone, since they do the men and women in separate areas.

What was going to happen? What would it be like? I had dreamed many times of what it might be like to be healed, to feel the water rushing over me, to feel the Holy Spirit caress my tired and scarred body, to feel the pain and discomfort wash away, to feel tears overflow, and to exclaim the Lord’s goodness in his healing.

It was finally my turn.

I followed the volunteers behind the curtains, put on the gown, and walked into the room with the bath. A statue of Mary greeted me. I stepped into the waters, sat down, felt the water rush over me, heard the prayers murmured by the volunteers, and waited. It was over so fast. Before I knew it, I was dressed and walking to the basilica to meet my boyfriend.

My body was not healed.

The feeling was strange. It was not a pessimistic I-knew-it-wouldn’t-happen kind of feeling. I don't know if I would even describe it as disappointment. I felt content, some peace, and I felt the strength to carry on. I came with the expectation that God would love me and that He would take care of me. How I didn’t know. Of course, I wanted to be physically healed. I still do. I gave him all of my pain and my struggles, and while He did not take them away, He did take them.

He Will Answer My Prayer

I know without a doubt that God will heal me. It is not a matter of if, but when. And the when may be once, by God’s grace, I see Him face to face in heaven. I still wonder sometimes if I will be healed here on earth. And, in fact, I have made significant progress in the last couple years. He is healing me slowly, gently.

But more so I know God is here with me in every moment. And that is far more important. His grace is always there, ready and waiting to be poured out, I need only ask, seek, knock.

There is more to do here where I am. I will continue to trust. I will continue to surrender. I will continue to love amidst the pain.

I recently attended the 2019 GIVEN Institute Forum, and one of the speakers, Elizabeth Kirk, said something that struck me: “Our crosses are not obstacles to our gifts; they are the way to our gifts.”

I have always thought that I could be such a better wife, mother, friend, and entrepreneur if I didn’t have to constantly battle my ailments. But God is working with me through them, and I hope I can let my pain serve others.