He Healed Me

He Healed Me

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

He Healed Me

OLORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

Ps. 30:2

After a decade or more of troubling symptoms, I was finally diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus during my late thirties. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system, which normally mobilizes to attack foreign invaders—such as bacteria or viruses—mistakes the body itself as the “enemy.” As a result, the immune system goes to work to aggressively destroy various body tissues and organs, such as the kidneys, heart or lungs. For reasons not completely understood by medical researchers, the disease manifests itself differently in each person; diagnosis is made with a blood test. Symptoms can be treated, and the eventual last-resort treatment is to suppress the immune system completely with medication. At that point, of course, the body is left defenseless against something as simple as the common cold. Lupus is eventually fatal.

In my case, the lupus caused severe pain in my joints, muscles and tendons, and affected my energy level. More serious than that, however, was the fact that my immune system was progressively attacking—and destroying— my lungs. In addition to my lupus specialist, I was being treated by one of the Intermountain West’s noted authorities in pulmonary medicine, who monitored the progressive destruction of my lungs. He tried various treatments to keep my lungs working as well as possible. I was experiencing two or three episodes of lupoid pneumonia each year, each of which kept me confined to bed for six to eight weeks. Though lupoid pneumonia (like viral pneumonia) does not respond to antibiotics, I was treated with high doses of erythromycin to prevent secondary infections; the coughing was so severe that I almost always developed pleurisy, a condition in which the lining of the lung separates from the lung itself. Pleurisy causes a knifelike stabbing pain with each breath and almost unbearable ripping pains during coughing. Each recovery was a blessed relief, but left my lungs weaker, more deeply scarred and more susceptible to further infections. My lungs became so sensitive that I couldn’t stay in the room if any kind of chemical cleaner was being used.

My condition finally deteriorated to a point that my team of doctors felt they had exhausted everything they could do for me, so they referred me to a lupus specialist in Salt Lake City for further evaluation and treatment. I brought all my blood work and X-rays with me to my first appointment, during which the doctor did a basic examination. He decided to order all new tests so he could know exactly where I was in the course of the disease. I walked across the complex to a lab, where I had extensive blood work and urinalysis done and had detailed X-rays of my lungs and hands. (Because the bones of the fingers are the most delicate in the body, they show the damage the earliest.)

Throughout this period, I had started working on my family history, and was doing as much research and temple work as my health allowed. As the only member of the Church on my father’s side of the family, I felt a tremendous responsibility to bring the saving ordinances to as many of my ancestors on that side as possible—and I knew that I was the only person in that lineage who was doing the research. I felt I was racing the clock, and prayed continuously that I would be able to complete the necessary research before the lupus claimed me.

One Saturday morning I was driving to Salt Lake to the Family History Library, and I was praying as I drove. During my prayer, it suddenly occurred to me that I was not using the Savior’s gift of the atonement as I could. I remembered Alma 7:11, in which we are told, “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” I knew that those “pains” and “sicknesses” included lupus.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell had explained, “Jesus’ perfect empathy was ensured when, along with His atonement for our sins, He took upon Himself our sicknesses, sorrows, griefs, and infirmities and came to know these ‘according to the flesh’ (Alma 7:11–12). He did this in order that he might be filled with perfect, personal mercy and empathy and thereby know how to succor us in our infirmities. He thus fully comprehends human suffering.” Jesus knew my suffering, and he had felt every pain and frustration I was now feeling. I knew that with every fiber of my being.

I began to weep uncontrollably and pulled off the freeway. My prayer at that point was simple: “Heavenly Father, my lupus is so difficult. It has made it so I can’t do many of the things I’d like to. If it continues as it is, it will take my life. Father, I have so much to do. I want to find my ancestors and do their work, but I need to be strong and healthy. My ancestors are depending on me. I would not wish my lupus on anyone—but I know the Savior already took it in the garden of Gethsemane, and I need Him to take it again.” I felt an overwhelming sense of peace as I eased back onto the freeway; somehow, I sensed that all would be well and that I would be able to finish the research I so desperately wanted to do.

In the following weeks, I began to feel stronger and healthier than I had in years. My energy increased and the pain in my joints and muscles eased. Approximately two weeks after my pleading prayer on the side of the freeway, I received a letter from the lupus specialist I had visited in Salt Lake. After analyzing the laboratory tests, he wrote that “there is no sign of systemic lupus. You will not need a follow-up visit.”

I had been healed of a fatal disease for which there is no cure. The Savior, in His indescribable love for me, had suffered lupus as part of His atonement, and He had willingly taken it again, leaving me healthy and strong. Through prayer and the inspiration of the Spirit, I know the ability for the Savior to take my lupus had always been there; it was up to me to realize that possibility, to humble myself sufficiently and to exercise enough faith to enable the miracle. The Savior had already done His part; He was waiting for me to do mine.

As so eloquently stated by Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy, “It is the wounded Christ who leads us through our moments of difficulty. It is He who bears us up when we need more air to breathe or direction to follow or even more courage to continue. If we will keep the commandments of God and walk hand in hand with Him in His paths, we will go forward with faith and never feel alone. Trust in His promise of eternal life, and allow peace and hope to distill upon you. When we connect with the Author of Peace and with His perfect and redeeming love, then we can come to know the reality of the Lord’s promise: ‘I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying . . . , Fear not; I will help thee’” (Isaiah 41:13).

I had needed more air to breathe, and my Savior bore me up and took me by the hand. I owe to him every breath I take, and I recognize Him as my literal Savior—not only in an eternal sense, but also in the healing of my mortal body.

Kathy Frandsen

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