I was doing my Bible study when I came to a passage I had not read or thought about in a long time. Instantly I felt goosebumps on my arms and my eyes filled as the memories flooded back.
From age two until about age eight, Rhema battled continuous seizure activity in the speech and comprehension areas of her brain. We did significant hospital time in those early years trying all kinds of treatments. During that time I heard about “word deafness” – the inability to comprehend speech – and was told that Rhema most likely suffered from it. In my head, I knew that the seizure disorder coupled with a diagnosis of classic autism most likely meant that my sweet girl would not be able to speak. But my heart refused to accept it.
I read in Mark 7 the story of Jesus healing a deaf and mute man. He took the man aside, put fingers in his ears and touched his tongue. He prayed and said “Ephphatha!” which means “Be opened.” Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was “loosed”, and he began to hear and speak plainly.
Even though I couldn’t say the word I posted it – Ephphatha – on Rhema’s door and prayed fervently for God to heal her like he’d healed the man in the Bible.
Over the years my desperate prayers grew quiet; the healing I sought did not come, and a numbing, disappointed acceptance settled in. The paper curled, fell off the door.
I don’t recall thinking about that word again until reading it today. But I felt the power and the mystery, the amazement and joy of that Biblical story as if I were there. I imagined what it must have been like for the man who struggled with the pain and frustration of silence all his life to suddenly hear with understanding and to speak fluently. I imagined my Rhema speaking like that…
God closed my eyes and rolled back the tape, the years of seizure meds, the many wonderful teachers and programs for Rhema, the long hours of therapy, the precious community of support, the gains and the setbacks.
There was the day she said words of a verse. (I would re-post it every day on this blog if I could).
And now. Now we’re sure to hear (with a little prompting) ‘Hi’, ‘bye’, ‘yeah’, ‘no’, ‘cheese’, and ‘Hope’ from her lips. And now I can say, “Rhema, get your shoes on.” or “Go wash hands.” And she understands me. Oh how very far we’ve come. And there’s more still to come!
I thought we’d missed the healing but all along there have been miracles… openings. Jesus taking us aside, touching our ears, touching our tongues. Giving us new words to speak. Helping us hear like we’ve never heard before.
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.” ~Mark 7:37