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God Proves Himself Faithful

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Pain was a constant companion for Alissa Whitson for much of her life. “When I was 15, I started having really severe, severe back pain. My dad took me to the doctors and doctors told me that I had degenerative disc disease. Didn't make any sense to them, because they said, usually they don't see it in people until they're in their fifties, sixties. So, they're like, 'here's a back brace, here's some Vicodin, you'll eventually be in a wheelchair. This is the rest of your life.'”

Still, she had hope. “I grew up watching the 700 Club and so I always hear the miracles and the testimonies. And so, I, even though I didn't fully understand the Jesus that heals, I still remember in my youngest ages, my earliest years, my grandma saying, 'we're praying for your healing. We're praying for your healing.' So, I was like, 'okay, I know God’s got a purpose for my life, so I’m going to push through this and I’m going to find out how to overcome.”

Overcoming would become more difficult with each passing year. Unable to diagnose the problem, doctors could only prescribe stronger pain meds. By the time Alissa started college to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher she was using a cane. 

“And so, I was just trying to figure out how is God good while I'm suffering so much and while life is so hard and I’m having to get help from so many people and I can't even like, take care of myself. When I got to that point of complete hopelessness, I had so many pills from medication after medication, after medication. And so, when I decided I was done, I just dumped out everything I had and swallowed as many pills as I could. I think I took about 75 pills that day.”

Fortunately, a friend had noticed earlier Alissa wasn’t herself. Concerned, she went to Alissa’s dorm room and at once she knew something was wrong and called 911. “I kept going cause I was like, 'okay, God saved my life.' I kept going to doctors, I kept going to church. I kept having people pray for me just to help me hold on to hope.”

After college, Alissa got a teaching job, but her condition grew worse. Her joints began dislocating, forcing her to wear braces on her arms, legs, and even fingers. Despite the braces and multiple surgeries, Alissa still landed in a wheelchair. Finally, doctors had a diagnosis - Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a genetic, connective tissue disorder that has no cure. The now 35-year-old felt she had to make a decision. “It was heartbreaking. It was my dream to work with kids. It was my dream to teach. And when I knew I couldn’t do that anymore, I was so angry at God. I was so angry at this good God that gave me this life and this passion to teach kids and to impact their lives. And suddenly I had this diagnosis that was going to keep me from doing that.” 

Soon after, she took a job as an administrative assistant at a tutoring center. In March of 2021, alone in her car after work, she considered taking her life again. “And I told God, I was like, 'if You're real, if You truly care about me, my family's going to call and check on me because that rarely ever happens.' And I didn't believe that could happen. So, I gave God the impossible task.” 

A task God soon accomplished. Later that day when Alissa awoke from a nap, there were three messages on her voice mail. All from her sister she hadn’t heard from in months. “Like, how in the world did that happen? And I was like, 'okay, God, You clearly...You see this struggle, so You've gotten me through this point. You're still getting me through. You're not leaving me. So, you see me, and I will surrender to you.” 

At the suggestion of a friend, Alissa went to Seattle Revival Center to receive prayer for healing. Pastor Richard Gordon from Bethel Church in Redding, California was leading the service. When Alissa went forward, he began praying for her. “I fall down on the ground in the spirit and I’m just encountering God's joy. And I’m laughing like I did when I was a little girl as He just washes over me. And His presence was just so good. And so afterwards they helped me stand up and every time someone prayed for my healing, the first thing I test is my arms. My arms would only raise this high for four years. And so I go to raise one arm and I go straight up and I just kind of look at it like my arm just went up. And I was like, that's kind of cool. And so I go and raise the other arm and I go straight up and I just freak out. And I’m like, oh, okay. God, this is real. And then I see a friend of mine that I had known for a decade. Next thing I know is I’m grabbing my purse and I’m running over to her and then Holy Spirit tells me, 'You don't need your braces anymore.' And so I took off my finger braces, I took off my knee braces, and my ankle braces and I ran around my sanctuary completely pain-free.” 

Within months Alissa was off all medications and would need no more surgeries. Following God’s leading, she didn’t return to teaching. Instead, she attended Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, took a warehouse job, and is traveling around the world sharing what God did in her life. 

“Even believers have lost hope of the God who heals, and of the God who walks with us through our pain. And knowing that kind of strength. I hear the stories over and over again from people who just quit believing, who don't want prayer. And I know there's people that are in the shoes that I was in fighting. And so, I really feel like God's calling me to be used to restore hope to people, to show them that God of all hope.”

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