I remember it like it was yesterday. My parents told us we were going to see the place where Our Lady appeared to a young girl, St Bernadette, in a town named Lourdes. We started reading books and watching shows about this amazing story. I read and watched story after story of miraculous healing for so many people. And that was it, I was convinced that my three brothers who were all in wheelchairs weren’t going to be in them anymore! We were going to go to Lourdes and go in that amazing spring and I was going to be able to run races and talk with my brothers for the first time! I couldn’t wait. We made countdowns and I longingly waited for that day when we left for our trip! And finally, we were there! And, wow, that grotto was absolutely stunning! I waited in line for our turn. Each of us got a chance to go into the ice cold spring water. But when we got out, my brothers didn’t act any different. We went again the next day, and the next, every day of our pilgrimage. Nothing happened. Nothing changed. All of my excitement vanished. Gone.
My faith... well, it definitely seemed like that was on thin ice. I talked with my mom, crushed, devastated, heart broken. Why? Why didn’t God heal my brothers? Why does He heal everyone else? My mom said some pretty wise words that day... “He’s given us spiritual healing and strength for the journey. He has bigger plans for all of us.” As time passed, I started to understand more and more. We seem to think that if we do the right thing, life will be easy and good. We strive to make life easy. Get rid of annoyances, pain, hardships, obstacles. If we experience those, well then we must not be doing what God wants, right? Well, let’s look at the Bible, is that true? One of my favorite bible stories quickly became John Ch 9. In this story Jesus is asked “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” because this man was blind. “Jesus answered, ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.’” WOW! How powerful is that? God allows people to have hardships and obstacles so that HIS power is seen above all.
As the years passed, I could see more and more why God didn’t physically heal my brothers way back then. My parents went on to have more children. I was the oldest and I have 5 brothers (4 of whom are in wheelchairs) and 3 sisters. When I was in high school we had a geneticist become very interested in trying to figure out this unknown condition my brothers have. After I got married and had my first son, she has finally found out what it is! The only reason they were able to find the gene mutation is because my parents were faithful to God’s call to have all of us kids. Most people who have a child with this condition don’t go on to have more. So it was hard to research and figure out exactly what was going on. Now, they’re able to find the gene and they can help other kids with this condition to live their fullest lives. They are even working on helping children with similar disabilities because of what they discovered with my brothers and our family’s help! If God had healed my brothers way back then, so many people would not have been touched in such profound ways. Sometimes, the miracle is unseen, it’s the strength to endure the journey to heaven. And I couldn’t be more grateful for that miracle we received in Lourdes all those years ago.
Written by Alena Franson
1996 Lourdes France