Broken but Never Worthless

In my debut novel Engraved on the Heart, the heroine Keziah battles epilepsy at a time in history when epilepsy was widely misunderstood and resulted in many of the sufferers to be placed in asylums. I grew up battling epilepsy as well. I remember the shame, the horror when consciousness slowly trickled back as dozens of wide eyes stared at me in shock. I’ll never forget the frustration of grasping for a gaping black hole of time in my memory that couldn’t be recovered.

What I learned, and what Keziah must learn, is that broken doesn’t mean worthless. Challenges make us stronger. Sometimes God doesn’t remove that difficulty from our life because He wants to mold us into the image of Jesus through our weakness. His strength moves in and fills the gap where our abilities end and our need must be filled.

God’s specialty is using broken people. Here are fifteen people who battled (or are currently battling) epilepsy: 
Susan Boyle
Charles Dickens
Lewis Carroll
Harriett Tubman
Theodore Roosevelt
Edgar Allen Poe
Vincent Van Gogh
Neil Young
Alexander the Great
Napoleon Bonaparte
George Gershwin
James Madison
Bud Abbott (from Abbott and Costello)
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts

I recently read by Corrie Ten Boom and a visit she made to a dedicated woman of God.

“We arrived at her apartment by night in order to escape detection. We were in Russia (in the region of Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea). Ellen and I had climbed the steep stairs, coming through a small back door into the one-room apartment. It was jammed with furniture, evidence that the old couple had once lived in a much larger and much finer house. The old woman was lying on a small sofa, propped up by pillows. Her body was bent and twisted almost beyond recognition by the dread disease of multiple sclerosis. Her aged husband spent all his time caring for her since she was unable to move off the sofa. 

I walked across the room and kissed her wrinkled cheek. She tried to look up but the muscles in her neck were atrophied so she could only roll her eyes upward and smile. She raised her right hand, slowly, in jerks. It was the only part of her body she could control and with her gnarled and deformed knuckles she caressed my face. I reached over and kissed the index finger of that hand, for it was with this one finger that she had so long glorified God. 

Beside her couch was a vintage typewriter. Each morning her faithful husband would rise, praising the Lord. After caring for his wife’s needs and feeding her a simple breakfast, he would prop her into a sitting position on the couch, placing pillows all around her so she wouldn’t topple over. Then he would move that ancient black typewriter in front of her on a small table. From an old cupboard he would remove a stack of cheap yellow paper. Then, with that blessed finger, she would begin to type. All day and far into the night she would type. She translated Christian books into Russian, Latvian, and the language of her people. Always using just that one finger—peck………peck…….peck—she typed out the pages. Portions of the Bible, the books of Billy Graham, Watchman Nee, and Corrie Ten Boom—all came from her typewriter.

That was why I was there-to thank her. She was hungry to hear news about these men of God she had never met, yet whose books she had so faithfully translated. We talked about Watchman Nee, who was then in a prison in China, and I told her all I knew of his life and ministry. I also told her of the wonderful ministry of Billy Graham and of the many people who were giving their lives to the Lord. “Not only does she translate their books,” her husband said as he hovered close by during our conversation, “but she prays for these men every day while she types. Sometimes it takes a long time for her finger to hit the key, or for her to get the paper in the machine, but all the time she is praying for those whose books she is working on.” I looked at her wasted form on the sofa, her head pulled down and her feet curled back on her body. “Oh, Lord, why don’t you heal her?” I cried inwardly. Her husband, sensing my anguish of soul, gave the answer. ” God has a purpose in her sickness. Every other Christian in the city is watched by the secret police. But because she has been sick for so long, no one ever looks in on her. They leave us alone and she is the only person in all the city who can type quietly, undetected by the police.” ” (from Tramp for the Lord)

Sometimes the things we view as weaknesses, God uses to turn the world upside down.

You are not alone, child of God.

To pre-order Engraved on the Heart, visit


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