If You Are Willing

“A man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.”

I think and pray about this verse every single day of my life.

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I married the love of my life, Amy Creek, on September 5, 1992. She was tiny little lady until around the year 2000, when she began to develop thyroid problems and Hashimoto’s disease. We moved from Paris to Los Angeles, where Amy had a partial Thyroidectomy in 2003. Soon after, she began to develop signs of Lympodema.

The symptoms grew worse until 2008 when, a few days after Amycaught a really bad flu, she went to bed feeling like her knees and upper legs were tight and sore. By the time she woke up the next morning, the knee bursae sacs above her knees were swollen to the size of cantaloupes. She was in excruciating pain and couldn’t walk. We thought perhaps the flu had moved into her legs. But over the weeks, months, and years to follow, these periodic episodes of intense, extremely painful and debilitating swelling have occurred regularly about once a week for about three days on each leg.

Our primary care physician gave her prednisone, which helped with the symptoms, but as soon as she went off the drug the symptoms came back. He referred her to a vascular surgeon who diagnosed her with Lipedema.

Lipedema is a chronic disorder which causes the legs to accumulate fatty tissue. It can occur in women of all sizes, from the seriously underweight to the morbidly obese. And unlike the typical fat of obesity, lipedemic cells turn into little nodules—like marbles under your skin. These sensitive, tender lumps all over Amy’s legs, hips and back and upper arms are excruciatingly painful. Although the nodules are always present, the adipose tissue becomes more painful when her knees flare up.

This vascular surgeon referred Amy to a rheumatologist who diagnosed Amy with palindromic rheumatism (sudden and rapidly developing attacks of arthritis). He offered Amy drugs that had lots of side effects and would have little effect on the actual problem. This has been the general attitude of doctors—offer drugs to mask the pain and little to know understand of the actual disease.

There is no medical cure for Lipedema. The painful fat nodules, unlike fat from obesity, is cannot be removed by diet and exercise.

Amy has tried everything to help with the pain. She is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. She doesn’t eat eggs, chocolate, meat, or tomatoes and she doesn’t drink coffee. She does not consume any caffeine, and has little-to-no sugar including refined carbohydrates like white rice. She works out two hours a day—at the gym, walking, and yoga.

We have spent a small fortune trying all kinds of supplements through the years and nothing has decreased the pain. She has become allergic to ibuprofen and Tylenol (developing hives and blisters).

And the disease just keeps progressing. The episodes are more intense than ever, and Amy compares the pain to childbirth. She’s a tough girl and has endured years of intense pain—but it is becoming unbearable. The excruciating pain caused by the flare-ups is completely debilitating.

Amy’s lymphedema massage therapist is trying to work with our insurance company to provide a compression boot to help keep fluid out of her leg. We’re in the process of buying an infared sauna because we’ve learned this will help with the lympodema by keeping the cells free of toxins. There’s the possibility of a trip to Germany, where a Lipedema specialist is rumored to be able to remove Lipedema cells without damaging the lymph system.

But these are just Band-Aids. There is only One Physician with the power to heal Lipedema. I remind Jesus every day, “If You’re willing, you can heal my wife.”

Jesus’ response to the leper was compassion (splagchnizomai, in Greek). I have no idea how to say that word, but it means the leper’s request made Jesus’ bowels yearn, figuratively. Jesus felt compassion. Sympathy. Pity. He was deeply moved.

Jesus really wanted to heal the man, and so He healed him.

It’s difficult to listen to my wife cry every day. I certainly feel tremendous splagchnizomai for her. And though I have prayed every day for years, by faith, to Jesus to bring heal my sweet wife’s body—He has not yet chosen to do so.

In His perfect wisdom, God is allowing my wife to experience a season of suffering. And I’m reminded that the leper most likely didn’t develop leprosy five minutes before he met Jesus. He may have had the disease for a year. It could have been ten years. It may have been twenty. We don’t know. But we do know that seasons of suffering occur—for all of us.

But I believe, by faith, that one day He will demonstrate splagchnizomai. And this blog is my celebration of that day, in the future, when Jesus says, “I am willing.”

Rick Mumford