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I passed the flapjack test

by
19 April 2013

Accounts of healing can be challenging. Dawn Knight tells her story

EACH one of us has our own individual journey with God; so your experience of God's blessings may be completely different to mine. God's grace can come in most unexpected forms. I'm a paediatric intensive-care nurse. I have laid out dead children; so I know I don't have all the answers. All I can do is tell you what has happened to me since October 2011. In brief, my systemic lupus and coeliac disease have been healed.

I was diagnosed with lupus in 2005. It flared for the first time in 2010. This was life-changing; it resulted in me having to rest a lot, go part-time at work, and remain on steroids. Several attempts to wean below 7mg a day of steroids failed.

For those who don't know, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune condition in which a person's antibodies attack their tissue. This can cause problems in almost any part of the body, including the skin, central nervous system, joints, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Accordingly, symptoms are wide-ranging, which makes diagnosis difficult, and confusion with other conditions easy. It can also flare, giving periods of extreme symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, joint and muscle pain, skin rashes, chest pain, and headaches.

I was diagnosed with discoid lupus (i.e. just on the skin) in 1999. The SLE diagnosis came in 2005, at St Thomas's, London, the national centre for lupus, after tendonitis in my right ankle rendered my foot and calf very swollen and immobile for several months.

When my SLE flared in July 2010, my consultant confirmed that it was definitely SLE, but said that the symptoms were atypical; so it could be another, closely related, autoimmune condition. The treatment meant increasing my normal dose of hydroxychloriquine, a lot of steroids (60mg, one day), and much rest. From then, and for the whole of 2011, I was on at least 7mg of steroids daily; if I tried to reduce this, the symptoms returned.

Coeliac disease is another autoimmune condition. The treatment is a gluten-free diet. I was diagnosed when three years old, and was under Great Ormond Street for this, and an irritable bowel through my childhood. At 15, I was transferred to St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, who decided to retest me: they put me on ordinary food for three weeks, and took several biopsies of the lining of my small intestine. I was sick every time I ate.

The biopsies confirmed that I would be on a gluten-free diet for life. Since then, whenever I made a mistake in my diet - the last time was in about 2007 - I knew instantly, as I always had the same reaction: a very blown-up abdomen within one hour, sick in three to four hours, and exhausted for the next day or two.

In October 2011, I went with my mother-in-law on a three-day Christian retreat in Guernsey, led by an Anglican priest, Canon Andrew Sharp, who is Vicar of St John's, Guernsey. I hadn't expected the emphasis on physical healing, a Christian ministry I had never encountered before.

During the retreat, Andrew highlighted God's rich blessings on those who believe in Christ: all these blessings are inside my heart, waiting for me to let down my barriers and let them flood through me. He told us that God's will is to heal everyone, but we each have to ask him for healing. This was very challenging to me, not least because of my job.

We also looked at why people do not ask for healing. Andrew stressed that our faith in God's healing should be based not on our experiences, but on God's nature, and his promises revealed in the scriptures; and that there is no blame or condemnation in physical illness. He also spoke of the need to persevere - like learning to drive a car, we do not give up just because we hit the kerb. Finally, we looked at how God's blessings can flow out of us to others.

 With trepidation and many questions, I decided to ask for healing of my lupus. I asked Andrew how many steroids I should take the next day. He said to follow my doctor's advice, although at some point I would know when I was healed. Andrew and his wife, Jasmine, both prayed with me with their hands on me, telling the lupus to leave in the name of Jesus, and releasing God's healing to me. I felt immense peace.

 On returning home, although lupus symptoms recurred intermittently, I felt physically better than I had in 16 months.

 After four months of much praying and reading about healing, fortunately, I had to go back to Guernsey to visit my mother-in-law. So, on 1 March 2012, I attended a healing service at St John's. This time, I wanted to ask for healing of my coeliac disease. I was used to being on a gluten-free diet; but healing of this would make others sit up and think, and it would squash any doubts I had about my lupus being healed.

Again, Andrew and Jasmine prayed with me, specifically asking for continued healing of my lupus, and for healing of my coeliac disease. Again, I felt very peaceful.

That evening, I asked God to continue healing my lupus, and to heal my coeliac disease; so I could use this healing to God's praise and glory. Immediately, I felt the ability to accept this healing. This felt the same as when I had finally accepted that Christ was my redeemer, at the age of 20.

That night, in bed, I ate a lot of flapjack. My abdomen did not swell up, and I wasn't sick. Instead, I slept deeply, and woke in the morning completely refreshed. Since then, I have been eating ordinary food with no adverse affects at all. Hot-cross buns are the current favorite. After 48 years, it seems very odd.

I have had no more lupus symptoms. I weaned myself off steroids as quickly as the doctors recommended, coming off completely since May 2012. I have now been discharged from the lupus clinic.

How healed am I? I know I am healed, as best I can, although, as far as the lupus clinic is concerned, I am in remission. About three weeks ago, after I'd been overdoing it decorating, I felt a tingling on the side of my face for about half an hour. I said to God: "What's going on here?" and prayed specifically for it to go. Maybe it was a remnant of the lupus; maybe it was just the way my body reacts to being overtired.

The coeliac disease is more clear-cut, in a way. Blood tests show that the coeliac marker is still present, but I have absolutely no clinical symptoms. My consultant said last month: "I have no idea why you have no symptoms." He'll see me again in a year.

I am a very, very ordinary person. My life is transformed. I remain stunned at God's rich blessings. I work in the medical profession; so I don't want to be irresponsible. Healing is a big deal, and a big part of it is asking and accepting; have the courage to ask, and then let God's grace flow through you.

It can take a long time. There is no logic to it. But I find it so helpful to think of all God's blessings being inside each one of us. I tell this story so that others may know God more.

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