(Please listen to Sayo’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
Okay, I’m Sayo, actually Sayanora. That’s my dad’s idea. He just had this idea of the world. He never went to the world, He would read alot. People shorted it for me in high school. At home, they call me Saya because it was a Saya Nora. So the Saya, that’s the four letters, first four letters. When I went to school in high school, they changed, I switched schools in the 10th. And then they changed it to S-A-Y-O, Sayo.
So you want God to use you? It comes with a price. And so when I, especially when I started reading about Ezekiel, and you know, just groveling in the dust and that caught my attention that it’s not, I don’t want to be in that position. But I want God to use me.
Because I see there is some, there’s like a thread running through all the prophets. And there is a kind of pain of some sort. So my pain, it started off, I started writing about physical pain. But then God started leading me through the crevices of my mind, to different kinds of pain. From childhood, right up to the physical pain, even just, losing my dad, when I was 13. And my mom had five kids, the youngest was six, and she just raised five kids without a husband. My older brother was just 15.
And so there was a lot of pain from childhood. And so God started taking in. It’s been like, it’s been a healing process for me too, not, not just for others, but by writing. It’s, it’s just been healing me from the inside.
It’s only recently, I would say, like, seven years ago, probably close to eight years, when the arthritis–I suddenly developed arthritis overnight. God started putting on my heart that this was something that He was allowing in my life. For a purpose, and I need to do something with it. And so I couldn’t figure out what He wanted me to do with it, because it really knocked me down. Literally, on the bed where I needed, my boys help to flip over, or Danny, somebody to come in, take me to the bathroom, or even to get my feet from the bed to the ground. Someone had to lift my feet and put it. It was quite bad.
But God started speaking to me very specifically about people, about situations, about different things. And, yes, so. And one of the important things that He asked me to do was to write down, like write down your stories, just write it down. “I’m putting you through this so you would experience me in a very close way. So that when people are going through hurt, when they are going through any kind of pain of any sort, that they would be able to know that I’m very close to them.” In the process, I am being transformed. That, of course, gave me so much excitement, and you know, purpose to do more. But then it’s about transforming me to recognize the need around me. And so there are a lot of stories like these, which I’ve seen God, just use me if I’m willing.
There’s some situations where you just cannot be healed, you have to learn to live with it. And that’s also part of God’s plan. And I totally accepted that right in the beginning. And I still believe that it’s up to God, if He wants to, because if He is going to be more glorified while you’re sick, and you’re honoring Him, and more people are coming to know Him because of your response to your illness, then, you know, you’d rather be sick. So that’s how I prayed, I said, if this is what You see in me that my response to my illness is bringing more people to trust You, then I’d rather be sick. But if my healing is going to bring more people to You, then whatever it is, so I kind of got that straight in my head with God. And especially with rheumatoid arthritis. The doctors just tell you, there’s no cure; you just live with it and learn to cope.
So I was willing to just go through that. But there was a time when God really spoke to me very clearly that “I will heal you completely in a week.” And I really don’t know what that week means. Even now, when I’m saying this, I really don’t know what that means. But I have written about this in the [my] book. During that particular week, when the arthritis was really, really, really bad. My knees were swollen, my fingers, I couldn’t straighten my fingers, both my hands were just bent, all my fingers were bent. And even to lift the sheet over myself, I just [had to] pick it up with the tips of my thumb and finger.
And it was so bad. And this is what God speaks to me. And I was so excited. And I know my boys… Also, I’ve seen them cry when they’ve seen me in pain. And Joel, our second, he said, I don’t know why you have to go through. Why isn’t God doing something about this? And my boys really went through a lot. And my youngest was, he was just seven when this started. And I just feel terrible that I couldn’t be there for him. And you know, just that emotional aspect of even just hugging your kids. And every time they came near me they were afraid that they might hurt me or step on something or bump into me accidentally. And so that was frustrating for me. But the thing is the way God started molding the boys through my illness, and helping them to trust Him, and pray so much more and get to do chores around the house. They literally took on the whole house–cleaning, cooking, mopping…. Name it and they did everything at home. And I mean, it was hard for me to just watch them, you know, doing it because someone had to do it. And I couldn’t. That particular week when I heard God say “I will heal you completely in a week.” And I mean, it wasn’t an audible voice or something. But I sometimes see like a sentence, you know, just typed out or something. It’s just a sentence there. I just see that and I woke up to this. And I decided to just fast 24 hours, let me do a 24 hour fast and see.
I mean, not that I wanted to be healed. And that’s why I was fasting. I wanted to hear God more clearly, during that time. And it was surprising that I didn’t get healed, in that week. But then after the fast, the next morning when I went to the kitchen, and I was still in a lot of pain, and God started speaking to me said, “Do you think you’ll be fine if you had the best health? Is that all you need?” And I thought to myself, that’s not all that I need right now, because our finances were not great. And then the kids needed attention. There was so many things, so many things that they would need. Not and if I was healthy that was not it. There was so much more to it. And so I thought to myself, no, I don’t think I would want to see my children hurting in some way. And if my health was like 100%, good. So, and then immediately, thoughts started rushing into my head. I know they were from God. So I’m going to heal your finances. I’m going to heal your children’s hearts. I’m going to heal you. And a list of things started flowing through my head.
I sensed God speaking to me these things. And that week, the very next day, somebody just gave us a check of 50,000 rupees, which is a big deal in India. Nobody gives you 50,000 rupees just like that, and say, “this is for your family.” And that’s a lot of money in India it would take care of like, if it’s groceries, you can go for the year, but that’s not even like half a year over there.
It’s not easy when you’re serving God and you want to do what he wants. It’s not about me doing something for him, but what does he want to do with me, you know?
So someone gave that. And then the the day after that. Our oldest was going through, the teenage questions and struggles and all of that. And he suddenly broke down. So we just sat with him. And he just cried, maybe for an hour, we just sat with him, prayed, and talked, and listened to him. And that seemed to be like a turning point for him, although he had a salvation experience much earlier. And he was baptized. But there was something he was going through at like 14-15 I think, and then that turned out to be like a big turning point for him.
And I could just connect all of this to that promise that God gave me just two days before that. And it was finances. And I started seeing things happen, although my health wasn’t restored, but again, the health part of it, I feel that I’m not able to write when I’m well.
That’s really funny but everyone thinks it’s weird, so I keep telling God, don’t let me go through pain to write. Give me ideas to write when I’m well. But then God’s always showing me that, Okay, now you’re well. Now try writing. And the thoughts just don’t come. It just doesn’t come because I’m not able to relive the experience of the pain and the experience of God’s presence in my pain, not able to relive that and put my thoughts down.
So the health issues have improved so much, but thoughts aren’t flowing. And then, God, do wherever you want, but I need to finish this chapter. And what He does is give me pain that night, and then in the morning and like, Okay, before the pain goes, let me just text quickly, or whatever thoughts. And the thoughts just keep flowing, because He starts showing me from Scripture connecting Scripture with my experience of pain and how He is so alive. And so present with me. Because I believe there are a lot of people who are going through terminal illness, and they need to know that God is so close to them, but who can explain or who can, you know, express to them other than someone who’s been through pain themselves. And so just the other day I was texting on my phone, I mean, I just put it all down there because I didn’t want to lose those thoughts that were just flowing in to complete the chapter. And so although I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life, I don’t enjoy pain. But I must say that God has been so real in my pain. And He’s had a purpose. He’s achieving something through that.
And I had to be willing. And I could have said I don’t care. But you know, I just want to be well. And it’s been a testimony in itself. So even my mom, she says, “I have seen so many people suffer, but they blame God and they’re angry and upset. But when I look at you, I just feel so strong. And I feel like other people need to meet you. And I, I just feel that there’s something about the way you’re handling your pain that others need to experience.” And so when I hear these things, I don’t want to be in that pain, but just want to make sure I make optimal use of that experience.
I’m just reminded of one time when I was in –it was again, one of those days when I couldn’t get out of bed, I was in a lot of pain. And I realized there was one question that I always felt like I wasn’t sure about was when we take communion, when we break bread. That phrase, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Now Jesus was telling this to His disciples, who knew Him. And when He’s saying, “Do this in remembrance,” they have something tangible. They have Someone in front of them that they are going to remember in the future when He’s gone. But now, what does that mean to me? If someone says, “Do this in remembrance of Me”, I don’t have something tangible that I can relate to, it’s just passed down verses in Scripture. So I always felt like, I don’t think I’ve got enough out of this, like, I haven’t wrapped my head around this experience, because I’m trying to connect with someone else’s experience of remembrance. But what about me, you know, like, how do I relate to this? I remember that this was always in my head somewhere, that whenever I break bread, I would try my best to close my eyes and try to be as spiritual as possible to have that experience of remembering Christ, but it never came. But that time when I was in a lot of pain, one evening, everyone was out of the house, and I was alone. And suddenly, I sensed God telling me, “You want to know what that means?” You know, this is just a little glimpse of the pain that I went through.” And I actually experienced a little bit of what Jesus went through at that moment, when I couldn’t move my hands, I couldn’t get on the ground, couldn’t get my feet down.
I remember just weeping that day, I was just weeping and thanking God, I said, “I thank you for this pain, because now I understand a very little, such a miniscule amount, of what You went through for me.” And that made it so real. I don’t think I’ve asked that question again after that, because it wasn’t the whole– I know, Jesus went through so much. And I said, You didn’t deserve it, but I deserve it in so many ways, but You didn’t deserve that pain. But, I could just feel, I mean, not literally, but I could just sense the bruises and the blood, and the thorns on His head. Everything. Just for a few minutes. I just felt that. So real. And I said, this is what He went through for me. So thank you for reminding me of that section of my book. I’ve written about all of this.