Thyago, 29, Recife, Brazil
[as told to Then God Moved editor Adira Polite*]
At age eleven, I had a stroke that paralyzed my legs. It came with no warning. I was walking away from my uncle’s house when my legs started trembling. All of a sudden, I was on the ground. People gathered around me, asking questions and I had no idea what was going on. The doctors ran a ton of tests, but they couldn’t figure it out. After three months and no solution, they sent me home.
My condition was very difficult for my family. It was especially hard on my mother, who was raising my sister and me on her own. The physical pain was awful, but watching my mom cry at my bedside was much, much worse.
For obvious reasons, I was pretty mad at God. I was a very prayerful little kid, praying alone for hours on end each day. I was close to Him, so I couldn’t understand why He’d let me suffer.
Then, He healed me. It was a gradual miracle, but it a miracle all the same. One day, I found that I could wiggle my toes. With time, I was able to stand for a few seconds. Then, minutes. Eventually, I was able to shower standing up. Day by day, God gave my legs strength. Today, I walk. I still have a slight limp. I believe God left the limp as a signal pointing to the story of my healing. And — like Moses’ lisp — my limp humbles me.
I’m now a professor of engineering. Not too long ago, I heard some of my students laughing about my limp. Of course, I was burning up with hurt and anger. Then, God turned it. He reminded me that they could only laugh at my walk because I can walk. Immediately, my anger and pain was replaced with joyous gratitude.
Now that I’m older, I can see that God has used my suffering to fortify my faith. My heightened faith gives me incredible peace. I rest, knowing that His hands are at work in my life. It’s impossible to understand why God does what He does. We’re not God. But, even when things are hard, we can trust that there’s something good moving behind it all. We’re living in a broken world, so difficult times do come — but, God can and will use that suffering for His purposes.
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“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:17-18