Faith

A young woman’s wait for healing

by Evelyn Luar // February 8, 2019, 4:13 pm

evelyn luar

Evelyn in 2019, five years after being hospitalised for brain arteriovenous malformation. All photos courtesy of Evelyn Luar.

When you’re not looking for Jesus, He comes looking for you.

I experienced that first hand.

To begin with, till then I was just a “Sunday Christian”. My life focus was my own life goals. Jesus was pushed to the back shelf, only to be prayed to when I needed something. I treated Him more like my genie than my Lord.

I was at terrible risk, from an eternal perspective, but I blindly capered on.

Encouragement and visits from family and friends helped pull me through during my stay in the hospital.

The beautiful thing is, Jesus did not give up looking for me. The Bible speaks of Him as the shepherd who hunts for the one silly sheep that decided to wander off (Luke 15:1-7). 

Have you seen how a shepherd rescues a sheep that has fallen off a cliff? He uses the hooked end of his staff to catch it by its neck and haul it back up. Rescuing can hurt.

The rescue

In my case, the hook yanking me up was a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that struck me on October 2014.

AVM is a congenital condition that can lead to a stroke, and for many, symptoms don’t arise until the AVM ruptures and causes critical damage to the brain or spine.

Tim Keller once said: “You don’t realise Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” 

I was in so much pain. Imagine the worst migraine you’ve ever had. Multiply that five times and have it throbbing non-stop throughout the day, every day for a month.

To add to the pain was intense fear.

The doctor told me I risked permanent damage, such as losing part of my memory, having problems walking, vision impairment and speech issues. He advised me to go for surgery before another rupture occurred, which might cause even more serious damage.

My family and I didn’t know what to do, so we just waited and prayed.

Tim Keller once said: “You don’t realise Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” 

This truth came home to me amidst the ruins of my life plans and my pain. I realised that all the things I was chasing were actually futile, when in the end, Jesus is all that matters.

On October 27, 2014, I felt regretful and prayed for forgiveness. It was a simple prayer: “Jesus I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Amen.” I remember this was around 8pm. I did not expect any response.

Suddenly, everything became blindingly bright. I had to fling up my hands to cover my eyes. But even my hands could not block out the sight. It was Jesus. I do not know how I recognised Him, but as I stared at that face, I knew it was Jesus.

Jesus said nothing to me but merely smiled.

He didn’t look at all like any of the pictures in Sunday school books or in media. I felt oddly both delighted and yet greatly afraid to see Him. I wanted to stare into that face and yet run away and hide. It was then I understood the paradox in Psalm 2:11.

A witness

My mother was visiting me that Monday evening. She was seated next to me when this encounter occurred.

I told her: “I think I have seen Jesus.”

Months later, my mother who is a Christian, told me that, given my condition, she wasn’t quite certain I knew what I was talking about!

She had prayed, asking the Lord: “Is this true?” He simply replied: “Watch the bed.”

My mother began to cry when she saw this confirmation of truth, for till then I had been far too weak to move.

I had always been a nominal Christian. So imagine my confusion and embarrassment when out of nowhere I felt an irrepressible urge to laugh. I whispered to my mother for help, telling her the nurses might bind me thinking I had gone insane.

But she said: “Just release it.”

After a tense moment, I decided to let go. I burst out laughing. I laughed so hard that the bed shook with a loud and audible rattle.

My mother began to cry when she saw this confirmation of truth, for till then I had been far too weak to move. I could not even sit up for more than 10 minutes because the pain in my head was too much.

That evening changed my life forever. I had seen with my own eyes that Jesus is real … everything in my life had to change. 

He had opened my eyes. Next were my ears.

Jesus spoke to me one evening, saying He would heal me supernaturally of the AVM.

He gave a “down payment” of this in the form of the blood clot in my brain dissolving by itself over the course of two to three weeks, without a need to drill a hole in the brain to drain it out, as doctors had advised.

But opening my eyes and ears were not enough. Jesus wanted my heart as well.

Faith, not feelings

The thing about building faith is that it is a slow process. After the initial high of the encounter, I began wondering if it had really been Jesus I had encountered, or if it had all just been my imagination.

The stakes were high. If I was wrong about hearing Jesus’ promise to heal me, I was putting myself at terrible risk of permanent disabilities. I was also getting a lot of pressure from the doctor to go for surgery.

A true walk with Christ is when we die to ourselves every day. (Luke 9:23) 

Amidst these doubts I began to pray and tell Jesus how frightened and unsure I was.

It was hard. I was scared about hearing Jesus wrongly, but I was actually more terrified about hearing Him correctly. If I went through with the surgery, would that muck up the destiny He had planned for me?

My father reminded me that David and Joseph from the Old Testament had also received promises, but it took years for those to be fulfilled. And they were fulfilled in ways neither of them expected!

Faith is not a feeling. It is an active decision. I eventually decided to believe and withhold from the surgery.

Jesus gave assurance of this decision through my family members individually agreeing and supporting me. I was discharged after a month.

Jesus instructed me specifically to study for three years at Asia Theological Centre. I obeyed, and graduated with a masters in 2018.

I have since then left my secular job, and at the call of Jesus, studied at a specific Bible college, the Asia Theological Centre.

This hurt me more than the AVM ever did. My job was my Isaac (Genesis 22); I had put everything into it, and to leave and go somewhere I didn’t want to go was like dying.

But that is the true walk with Christ, where we die to ourselves every day. (Luke 9:23)

When I obeyed, Jesus began to strengthen my faith and I got to know Him one on one for myself for the very first time in my life.

I felt I didn’t just know about Him, I knew Him.

A season of waiting

But my faith was to be tested three years later.

A second rupture occurred in August 2017.

This sent me reeling in shock and confusion. How could it have been Jesus speaking in 2014 if there was a second rupture?

I felt so disillusioned and angry that I almost went for the surgery.

But Jesus directly gave me a queer phrase: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

I thought it was a verse from the New Testament, but it was actually from Exodus 14:13.

Over the next few weeks, I received separate confirmations from three other individuals who claimed to have received a word for me and all three quoted the same phrase: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

They came to me at different times and were of different ages and genders. One of them, a woman, was a complete stranger.

There were further unexpected delays which caused the surgery to be postponed. I took these delays as confirmation of Jesus’ original promise in 2014.

I decided not to go for the surgery in the end. 

I reason that if He did not say: “No Evelyn, I’m not going to heal you”, then I’m going to just keep asking for healing.

While I have not received confirmation of the miracle yet, in the form of an MRI scan showing that the AVM is gone, I will wait. What keeps my faith going

I am even now learning to trust Jesus as a man of His word, and that He works through, not in spite of, the waiting time.

His thoughts far exceed my capacity to imagine. Therefore, the only thing to be done at present is to simply trust Him, and wait.

About the author

Evelyn Luar

Evelyn Luar is a graduate of the Asia Theological Center and an intern at Salt&Light. She is an avid Tolkien and C.S. Lewis fan and has a penchant for humorous irony and thoughtful insights. She is adamant about hitting her 10k steps everyday.