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Jehovah-Rapha: My God Who Heals

By Edith Hooker


“Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)

I stood across the bed from my husband as we looked down at our son, so near death. I felt the constant, deep, heart-wrenching hurt of losing such a loved one, wondering how a mother lets a dear and precious child go. It was there, with our son’s hand in mine, that I recalled the days we began life together—he and I. Desperately needing one another, glad to have each other, and content to help each other make a new and wonderful life…

The minute I saw him I knew I could love him. The big brown eyes that looked lost, yet wanted so much to be loved, and the large, captivating smile that so quickly wrapped my heart around his. For a boy of just seven years, his behavior spoke volumes. Just three short weeks prior to our first meeting, I’d met and fallen in love with his father; this first meeting between his son and me was a test to see if the three of us would be able to make up a family. Even though we had no thoughts toward God, He had His hand on our lives even from the very beginning.

O Lord, You have searched me and know me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. (Psalm. 139:1-6)

His Dad and I had made plans to elope the following morning if the two of us got along as well as he’d hoped and expected we would. That evening we spent talking, laughing, and getting acquainted, and when “our” son finally fell asleep, we began packing and loading what belongings I planned to take (we’d be living in their home some 335 miles away). I had no fears or apprehensions as we loaded the car; there were no doubts or misgivings that we wouldn’t “live happily ever after,” so when we were finished we roused “our boy” and headed out for “home.” On the way we stopped in a small town across the river to see if we could find a Justice of the Peace who would marry us. That was a busy, but glorious day and another story. We spent time at a small fair, and then along toward evening we set out to get married.

There was a lot to do, but we finally got the paper work all complete, bought a ring and flowers, then headed for the nearest service station to change clothes and head for the home of the Justice of the Peace. I chose my high school graduation dress to be married in, light blue with white embroidered floral trim, and a white hat with a sweetheart-shaped brim. My soon-to-be husband wore a suit and “our son” Harold wore a white dress shirt with dress pants and a bow tie.

These, my men, were the desire of my heart. When the vows were read, Harold repeated them with his Dad and even signed our marriage license. The following day as we drove the final 225 miles, Harold wanted to play Tic Tac Toe to fill in the long driving time. I located a piece of paper and a couple of pencils in my purse. He said he wanted to make a rule that the loser had to give the winner a kiss, to which I whole heartedly agreed—he saw to it that I never lost a game.

That was the beginning of God’s sovereign love and grace to those who would one day be His, even though they hadn’t yet “answered the call.” The times of “bonding” were so very precious for all three of us. Harold was a very good kid and rarely needed any discipline; the times he needed it I was too willing to let his dad do it until one day his dad told me that I really needed to discipline Harold or he’d never respect me.

I’d never raised any children, so I didn’t know when or how to discipline; that changed, however, one day when Harold did something he and I both knew he shouldn’t have done (to this day I can’t remember what it was) and without a second thought I reached out and swatted him a good one on his bottom. He naturally got upset and ran out of the house. Keep in mind, we lived on forty acres of timber. In a few minutes I checked around outside to see if I could see him, but he was nowhere in sight. I began to panic. I went back into the house and began to cry while imagining the worst case scenario. We’d be out in the dark with flashlights, searching the “deep woods” for him. And how would I ever tell his dad that, right off the bat, I’d lost our son?!

With a hanky to my nose and a broken heart I heard behind me the sound of the front door shutting and to my chagrin I just knew it was my husband coming home to what he thought was his new wife and his son. But when I turned around, there stood “our boy” with a bouquet of flowers he’d gone over a portion of the forty acres picking, and he gave them to me. Life was like that.

My mind raced through the years…years in which we added another son and three daughters to our family. God had truly been good to us, and throughout it all He was patiently, lovingly calling. It wasn’t until fifteen years into the marriage that we heard that call and came to know our wonderful Lord as our wonderful Savior. For me, I could hardly believe that God truly wanted me.

“And can it be that I should gain and interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love!
How can it be that Thou, my Lord, shouldst die for me?”

I was completely overwhelmed.

By then Harold was in the navy living on the east coast. Though we began earnestly to pray for him, he never answered the call of God on his life; at least, not as far as we ever knew. He remained a loving, devoted son, always there when we needed him, always making himself available; in fact, he moved back to the west coast and ended up working with us in the business we had started. When we sold the business, he remained in it and worked hard.

Then, many years into our retirement, we learned the devastating news that our Harold had esophageal cancer. It was already in the final stages before he ever went in to see the doctor, so there was very little hope that he’d be cured. For the next six months we spent a lot of time visiting with him and praying for him. God truly showed Himself to be all I needed during those months and during the ensuing years of grief and emptiness. “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved.” (Jer. 17:14)

Healing is a process; some wounds heal quickly and leave little or no scar, but some wounds are deep and heal slowly, or not at all; but I have found God to be faithful and merciful. There were times when He visibly comforted me, like at the beginning of the last week of Harold’s life when his Dad and I stood on each side of the bed hurting deeply. Though Harold could make no verbal response, we talked to him and I said, “Son, if you can hear me, squeeze Dad’s hand”—he did!!!

And that was just the beginning. He has brought about healing from others who have shared the heartache of losing a loved one; and, most of all He has brought healing from His Word. Yes, “I have learned to love my Savior, and I trust Him more each day; for no matter what the trial, He will always be my stay.” (Hess)

I still miss not getting the phone calls first thing in the morning on my birthday and Mother’s Day, and not having him there at family gatherings and any time we needed some physical help, but God, through the Holy Spirit, testifies of Christ, wherein lies my hope and comfort; so the dreams and grief I experience are less frequent. Though the hole in my heart from the loss of my son is still there, I find that grief is not fatal, and one day I shall be fully healed by coming face to face with my wonderful Lord and Savior. For I know that, “God will wipe away every tear from my eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things will have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

God has truly been a healing Father. He continues to make Himself known in ways that are clear and comforting, and I’ve learned even more deeply that His grace is more than sufficient for me; His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses. Therefore, I can rejoice and sing with great joy:

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
I have peace complete with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!”

©2006 Edith Hooker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Previously printed in the small book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary God, a collection of essays and stories. For information about purchasing this book, contact Kay Smith at