76 years ago today, my grandparents vowed to stay together “as long as they both shall live.” My grandmother is 96 years old, and my grandfather will be 98 on December 12th. There is much I could say about their commitment to one another and to their children, and especially to the Lord: the generational blessings that the entire family has enjoyed because of their faith are abundant. But I want to thank God that they are both here to celebrate this anniversary, and to elaborate on God’s goodness in restoring my grandmother’s very life.
In the spring of this year, my grandmother’s health began to decline. She went from walking with a walker to being permanently in a wheelchair. She had ongoing bouts of confusion, and in June, she was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. After her release, she was sent into convalescent care. During visits with her, conversation was nearly impossible. After we’d leave, I’d be in tears over her unresponsiveness. My beloved grandmother was fading, physically and mentally.
Only earlier this year, she and my grandfather had moved from their homestead in western PA into a retirement facility. In this transition, I had been thinking of Moses, and how scripture said that he lived to be 120 years old, and that “his eyesight hadn’t grown dim, nor had his strength left him” (Deuteronomy 34:7). Moses not only lived to a modern world record of age, he was still in great health and with no need for eyeglasses! And I kept thinking, “If Moses could enjoy that, why not my grandmother? 2 Corinthians 3 states over and over how we are living under a gloriously superior covenant than Moses’!” And I pondered this and I prayed this, over and over and over.
In June, anxious whispers went through the family about my grandmother’s demise. I wondered if it wasn’t folly to continue to pray this way. But I’d been dreaming almost every single night that I was up at my grandparents’ old homestead, and that they and the whole family were there. I’d wake up and reflect on the vivid dream, and I’d be persuaded to keep praying for her health.
One night in June, I got a text from a family member saying it was perhaps time for all of us to “face some realities.” Later, I dreamed that I was standing on my grandparents’ staircase, passionately “preaching” to my uncles and aunts and cousins! In my dream I said, “If Moses lived to be 120 and his strength had not abated nor had his eye grown dim, why can’t we? Why can’t Mom? We live under a much better covenant than Moses!” And I woke up the next morning and was encouraged to continue to pray for her restoration to health. Others in the family were certainly praying as well. And on a Sunday in early July, my mom and I together in the church prayer room pleaded that my grandmother would hold my sister’s baby, due later that month.
Today, five months later, I bless God that He tells us His name is Jehovah-Rapha – “the God that heals you” (Exodus 15:26). He honored those prayers that the whole family prayed, and I believe He gave those dreams as encouragement to keep praying. For my grandmother suddenly began to gain strength, both in body and in mind. She began to eat and drink normally and on her own again, and she went amazingly – in her nineties – from a wheelchair to walking again! In July, she held my sister’s newborn. In September, she was upgraded in her care status at the home in which she’d been living.
Now, she has her sense of humor and is feisty as ever. My grandmother is in better health now than she was a year ago, people often remark. This astonishing comeback in her health from the brink of death can only be attributed to the hand of God that heals. What a joy it is to visit her and my grandfather, and to see how sharp her memory and eyesight are as we study old black and white photos.
In August of this year, as the extended family gathered from all the corners of the country to celebrate our annual reunion at their homestead in western Pennsylvania, it was a surreal experience. I felt that I was once again in one of my dreams. For there I was at one point in the evening, standing on the carpeted steps of the old staircase like I’d done in my subconscious, but instead of “preaching” to bolster the faith of those around me, I was surveying the laughing, bantering chatter of a dozen conversations in the room around me – and at the head of it all sat my grandparents – frequently joining in, and other times, just watching their family in pleasure. Only two days prior, my grandmother had been granted release to make the three-hour trek back to their home for the reunion.
Psalm 126 played over and over in my mind as I watched them:
“When the Lord restored our fortunes, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy,carrying sheaves with them.” (NIV paraphrased)