Even Then Will I Be Confident
The Testimony of Gerald Sherwood’s
Healing and Recovery
Gerald Sherwood & Mark Sherwood
Table of Contents
My father recently passed away at the age of 82. I am heartbroken by his death and wish that he would have lived longer. However, I realize that apart from God’s grace and healing power, he probably would have passed away many years ago.
As my father approached the age of forty, he began to feel tired and run down on a regular basis. He went to doctors to find the reason for his ongoing fatigue, but nothing ever turned up in his examinations. He was often told that he was depressed and that his fatigue was probably psychologically based. This happened over and over again and was very discouraging to him because it seemed there was no practical treatment for the way he felt.
Over the years, the symptoms of his physical condition reached a climax and the mysterious causes behind his fatigue began to unravel. Prior to this, the causes behind his fatigue were hidden because his illnesses were so rare that the medical field didn’t have enough experience to make a proper diagnoses. However, by God’s providence, the doctors uncovered three physical ailments, two of which many doctor’s never see in their lifetime of medical practice. Because of this, my dad’s case was seen as an extremely rare medical anomaly.
God intervened with both healing and unusual circumstances that led the doctors to uncover his medical problems to deal with them successfully. I am forever grateful for this as it is likely that it provided an extra twenty years to spend with my dad on this earth.
Dad was a reserved man who was much more inclined to sit back and listen to others rather than to talk about himself. Even those who knew him were probably only vaguely aware of the magnitude of the physical problems he dealt with and how much God intervened in his life to bring him through a season of severe physical trials. However, he was a gifted writer and clearly explains his circumstances, his perspective, and God’s intervention in this written testimony of his healing and recovery.
In reading his testimony, you will find that my dad had questions as to why he experienced the physical ailments he suffered. In the end, I don’t think he ever claimed to know all of the whys; he simply learned that he could trust in God regardless of why the trials he suffered occurred. I know that he would be especially glad if his testimony added to your confidence in God as the final outcome of his experience was an increase in his confidence in God.
The next ten chapters of this book are the written testimony of Gerald Sherwood’s healing and recovery.
“Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.” This verse from Psalm 27 has taken on new meaning for me as I have faced what at times seemed like all out war. However, through all of this I have experienced a tremendous measure of God’s healing, His protection, His grace, and the power of the united prayer of Christians. I am aware that it is not always clear what is an attack from Satan and what is just life in a fallen world; however, I have had some experiences that were clearly the enemy at work. Regardless of why individual events took place, God has worked to build my faith and to help me realize my dependence on Him and on the prayers of other Christians.
A major work has been accomplished in my overcoming fear and gaining confidence in God’s protection. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 27 which I memorized and often recited during the period I am writing about. It begins, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear the Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” Near the end the psalmist repeats the confidence stated earlier by writing, “I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the lord.” I have gained tremendous confidence that I am in God’s care through the experiences that I will relate.
My story begins in the spring of 1995, although I must give a brief background. I had been only partly functional for about 22 years. During this time I had experienced extreme fatigue, but there was no physical evidence of a disease. I was treated for many years for depression, including use of antidepressants which often caused side effects that were worse than the disease. During that time it was only God’s grace that helped me hold a job to support my family, but I struggled through each day and mostly spent my non-work hours feeling nothing but exhaustion.
Eventually I was diagnosed as not being depressed but with having Epstein Bar Syndrome, which simply meant my immune system was fighting Mononucleosis, so my body reacted with all the symptoms on a permanent basis. Symptoms included extreme fatigue both physical and mental, a general sick feeling all the time, and severe muscle pain. This disease shortly became known by the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. While the disease is only diagnosed by symptoms, the thinking of the medical profession is that the immune system is deceived into thinking that the patient has Mono or some other disease, and the brain does not signal the immune system to stop fighting the disease so the symptoms continue on a permanent basis. Because of this analysis, I suspected something demonic because Satan is the “Father of lies,” and the whole problem is a matter of deceit.
One of the more easily diagnosed aspects of the disease is called Fibromyalgia which means muscle spasms for no apparent reason. My back, shoulders, and arm muscles were in constant pain. I could not lift any significant weight or raise my arms above my shoulders. I had to take a muscle relaxant every night to be able to sleep. From this very unusual disease, I was to proceed to two very serious diseases which are so extremely rare that one doctor said there was not a chance in the world that both would occur in the same person. With that background, I come to the events that unfolded over a two-year period.
In the spring of 1995, I had been having occasional attacks in which an emotionally horrible feeling that some describe as a sense of doom, would come over me. Severe pain would hit my stomach from blood rushing to it, and then my heart would pound with such great force that it would actually shake my body.
My doctor proceeded to run extensive tests on my heart and even put me on a continuous monitor to record what was happening during an attack. Since my heart beat increased only in force rather than in rate, the monitor showed nothing. The doctor assured me that my heart was fine, and that my problem was just a chemical imbalance; it was probably too much adrenaline and I shouldn’t worry about it. He felt what I really needed was exercise and stress reduction. However, he also ran blood tests and found that my blood count was quite low. The white count was particularly low, and from past records, there was a definite downward trend.
I was referred to a hematologist who was quite perplexed because blood tests, a bone marrow test, and a CAT scan did not show any of the usual blood diseases, but he was a diligent researcher and continued his study. So after four months of studying blood and more bone marrow, he made a diagnosis of a very rare disease called Hairy-Cell Leukemia. He was quite excited because the disease is so rare, and I was his first patient with it. After this diagnosis, many Christians began to pray for my healing, and I feel this was the beginning of bringing down Satan’s stronghold but also his wrath. It really seemed to be all out war.
Although a successful chemotherapy had recently been developed, my doctor and I agreed to delay treatment for two months because I had committed myself to speak at a large meeting of engineers and architects in Korea, so there was a period of time to pray before chemotherapy started. It was after all this prayer began that Satan began to attack in earnest. Twice I experienced attacks in the middle of the night in which I had the sensation of thousands of pins sticking in my head and all over my face, and I would jump out of bed and run through the house calling out to God for help. I’m sure each of these didn’t last long, but they seemed like forever. It really appeared to be like things I have heard about Voodoo.
One Sunday I asked one of the elders at church to pray for me, telling him that I thought something or somebody was trying to kill me. Apparently I was right because the following week I experienced a very real physical attack from demons. I woke up in the middle of the night to find a pair of hands holding me around my neck as though they were going to strangle me. I was too paralyzed with fear to move or speak, but I soon realized that the hands were not attached to anything. They did not move any tighter, but continued to hold my neck firmly so that the slightest tightening would strangle me. I knew from scripture and from previous encounters that demons shudder at the name of Jesus, and that the blood of Jesus has power over them. As I struggled, I finally was able to whisper “Jesus.” I repeated the name several times, and then began saying, “The blood of Jesus.”
Although I was unable to speak above a whisper, I finally said, “By the power of the blood of Jesus I command you demons to get out of here!” The hands disappeared in an instant, and I laid awake the rest of the night wondering what it all meant. I have since realized that I came very close to death, but God stopped the demons just short of allowing that. A few days later, I experienced a miraculous healing, and realized that Satan had been desperate to prevent this healing from happening.
It happened at the Wednesday night prayer force meeting. I met Pastor Bradford as I was going into the chapel. He told me he was going to have everyone gather around me and pray that night. I believe that surrounding me with prayer was extremely important because it provided an unbroken prayer shield. There was a powerful move of the Spirit that night, and I felt a supernatural hand from above rest on top of my head. That was really the only feeling I had that night. I went home and slept all night which was a miracle in itself. But the next morning when I awakened I actually felt like getting up; in fact I felt better than I had felt in years. As I moved about I realized there was no pain. I moved my arms around and found that I could lift them straight over my head without pain, and even now there is still no pain and no feeling of being constantly sick and tired.
It was an instant healing miracle after 22 years. I was able not only to function mentally and physically, but also to do simple things like lift my little grandchildren. I felt great on my trip to Korea in spite of a 14-hour plane trip, plus long days of meetings and evenings of sitting on the floor eating Korean food and talking through an interpreter. However, when I returned from Korea, blood tests showed that my blood count was still going down. I had been healed from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but I still had Hairy-Cell Leukemia and was destined to go through a year in which I needed God’s grace and His strength more than I could have imagined. If I had not had this initial healing, I doubt that I could have survived the year to come.
The first week of January 1996, I went to the hospital every day for two hours of inter-venous chemotherapy, and was scheduled for another round of chemo the second week of February. As expected, I was weakened and noxious, but I had not expected my white count to go essentially to nothing, leaving me totally without an immune system. I was put on a strict diet to avoid any type of infection and was ordered to avoid contact with people and wash my hands a lot. If my temperature started up, I was instructed to go immediately to emergency in the hospital.
Two days later at eleven p.m. my wife touched me as she was getting into bed and realized I was unusually warm, so I entered the hospital at midnight. I spent eight days in isolation on inter-venous antibiotics, and had two blood transfusions. The fever kept me nauseated; I could barely get any food down. It was a time that I needed all my strength physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even then God was in control because my blood was so totally destroyed, that when it began to regenerate there was no sign of cancerous cells. I didn’t even have to go through a second round of chemo. This was another miracle. The leukemia is still in remission.
The story didn’t end there because the heart-pounding attacks began to increase in frequency and severity. My doctor said the only help he could give me was to permanently put me on a tranquilizer, but rather than do that he again advised me to get plenty of exercise and reduce the stress in my life. He assumed that anxiety was producing too much adrenaline. Nothing seemed to help. The attacks brought the most horrible feeling I could imagine. I kept thinking there must be a demonic element because I felt so emotionally devastated that Hell surely couldn’t be any worse. The attacks became so severe that as one would start, I got out of bed, went to an arm chair in the living room, hung onto the arms as tight as I could, and cried out to God for help.
Eventually I was having these every two hours all night every night. The force of my heart beat would slowly decline over about a half-hour period. Then I would be so totally exhausted, I would fall asleep only to be awakened in an hour-and-a-half by another attack. I felt like a legion of demons had been loosed on me. Two different doctors prescribed medications to help me sleep and one doctor prescribed a tranquilizer. They each helped slightly for about four days and then did nothing.
Fortunately, I made an appointment one day when a substitute doctor was on duty. He seemed puzzled by my symptoms. However, when I emphasized that the attacks were only at night, and suggested that perhaps I was burning my adrenaline during the day, but kept producing at a high level at night, he remembered something he had studied in med school. He said that could be pheochromacytoma (commonly called simply “Pheo”) but it is so terribly rare that most doctors don’t think to look for it. In fact most doctors don’t ever see this in a lifetime of practice. I was destined to hear that reaction from every medical professional I talked with after that.
One obstacle to the diagnosis was that I did not have the classic symptoms of weight loss and high blood pressure. The first step was a 24-hour test to determine my adrenaline production. The test showed that I was producing about seven times the normal amount of adrenaline which was far more than was possible from stress. Even then, I had to repeat the test two more times before the doctors were totally convinced. With this new diagnosis, my doctor said to stop all vigorous exercise because it would only add to the problem, and referred me on to an endocrinologist. The pheo the doctor was looking for is a tumor that had grown from actual adrenal gland tissue and produced large amounts of adrenaline. I was then to find out that I had a long investigation ahead to find the tumor which normally would be on an adrenal gland, but sometimes it is located in other parts of the body where it located during the fetal stage. Something then triggered it to grow into a tumor.
A CAT scan showed only a large cyst on my right adrenal gland, and extensive blood tests showed nothing unusual. I was put on hold for six weeks of study and more referrals, and continued to have nightly attacks; although they were partially controlled by tranquilizers. Eventually the endocrinologist prescribed an adrenaline blocker which stopped the attacks, but made me extremely tired and weak, and I couldn’t think clearly. I became concerned about my ability to drive, but managed to drive some as long as I focused my attention totally on driving.
A full body nuclear scan was then ordered to see if the tumor had located in some other part of the body, but the scheduling required more than two weeks. For this scan, I was injected with radioactive isotopes two days in advance. These isotopes were supposed to search out the tumor and show it clearly on the scan. The test results showed nothing. At that point, the urologist who would be the primary surgeon to remove the tumor consulted with the endocrinologist and decided that maybe the tumor was inside the cyst and the imaging equipment could not see inside the cyst. This was yet another rare occurrence. The cyst needed to be removed anyway because comparison with a previous scan done for my leukemia a year earlier showed that the cyst had grown from two to eight centimeters in diameter.
There was still more waiting because scheduling surgery required another month (partially so I could go on additional medication to suppress adrenaline production), and the first available time was the afternoon before Thanksgiving. My reaction was to go for it as soon as possible, and so I spent Thanksgiving Day in intensive care.
As I approached surgery, I began to realize it was not something to be taken lightly. I had studied pheos and learned that the danger in surgery is that the adrenal gland as well as the tumor when disturbed may release large quantities of adrenaline causing blood pressure to go so high that a fatal stroke occurs. The surgeon reinforced this information by telling me that the incision had to be quite large, they would have to remove half a rib for access, and everything would have to be handled with extreme care. A retired doctor friend told me that there was also danger after surgery from blood pressure dropping too low and causing death.
One glitch occurred when the supplier of the best medication for controlling blood pressure was out of it and unable to send what was ordered. This nearly caused an additional delay of the surgery at the last minute because the doctor would not proceed without the best medication. However, the hospital was able, only a few hours before surgery, to borrow small amounts of the medication from several hospitals in Southern California. Another aspect of the seriousness of the operation came to light when the surgeon had me enter the hospital a day early so that I could be hydrated as an additional precaution; I would be pumped full of fluid so my blood vessels would not collapse. The surgery would require a crew of ten professionals including two surgeons and three anesthesiologists.
While processing all this information, I began to face the reality that there was a good chance I would not survive the surgery. All I could do was recall Psalm 27 and the words, “I will not fear;” as well as, “Even then will I be confident.” I had no confidence that I would survive the surgery, but I had every confidence that I was in God’s hands. Probably the greatest miracle that I have experienced was that I went into surgery feeling perfectly at peace even though I had doubts about surviving it.
Surgery turned up unexpected problems because the cyst had attached to the kidney and other surrounding organs, so it could not be taken out in one piece; it had to be carved out. The cyst broke open letting adrenaline-filled fluid leak to other parts of my body. My blood pressure went wild, but the medication that was applied through my neck directly into an artery controlled the pressure.
I am convinced that the covering of prayer that had preceded this was really the major factor in my survival. As I talked to the surgeons afterward, I sensed in their voice they had been really worried. When my wife, Ethelynn, and son, Brian, first visited me in intensive care, Ethelynn said I was such an ashen white, and with tubes coming out of me everywhere, she would not have expected me to live through the night, except that the attendant assured her all vital signs were normal.
When I first opened my eyes and saw the expression on their faces, I thought maybe I had died, but the pain in my side soon let me know that I was alive. I said, “I feel terrible; please pray for me.” Those in attendance immediately bowed their heads, and after Ethelynn prayed a brief prayer I went to sleep for the rest of the night.
The next morning I needed a new measure of God’s grace. I was expecting pain, but it had not really registered with me that I was going to have a 14-inch incision just under my ribs, extending through all the muscle and practically cutting the right side of my body in half. The pain was constant, but any attempt to change position even slightly brought severe pain. The whole idea of getting out of bed to walk was unthinkable, but I was soon required to do it. However, all the pain was worth it because there were no more of those horrible nightly attacks, and my mind cleared up after getting off the medication.
This whole experience has been an unusually trying, but special time of growing in faith. I learned that God’s grace is sufficient for sickness and pain. I learned that God is far greater than Satan, and that He will not allow us to be tried beyond what we are able to bear. I learned the importance of united prayers of other Christians in bringing down strongholds and covering with protection through trials. And I learned that I could look death in the face with perfect peace.
As I recall these events I wonder if all of these trials were just part of life, or was the enemy waging all out war? I have often heard that unusual isolated events happen to everyone, but when they occur in twos and threes close together we should be suspicious that they are attacks from the enemy. Whatever the answer is, God was and is ultimately in control. My faith has increased rather than been shaken, and I can say with the Psalmist, “Though war break out against me, Even then will I be confident.”
P.S. Fifteen years have now passed, and I am looking back at this document. My chronic fatigue did return, but the fibromyalgia aspect (severe muscle spasms) has not been a problem. The fatigue aspect still plagues me; sometimes worse than others. Major stresses to my body makes my immune system kick into high gear and continue for several months at a time, so I feel like I have a case of the flu, but I have learned to handle it by resting a couple of hours in the middle of the day, and limiting my physical activities. God has given me a good life and I’m still confident that He is in control.
A Note from Gerald’s son: Dad’s hairy cell leukemia never returned. He was permanently in remission from the disease even up to the time of his death.
Perhaps you or someone you know needs to be healed. It can be very tempting to give up on your own healing or the healing of someone you love because you have seen no physical improvement after years of prayer. My dad told me that there were times he had given up hope during the 22 year time span that he suffered from fibromyalgia and he thought that he would have to live with it for the rest of his life. Dad once shared with me that his hope of being healed was reignited when he heard a sermon based on a Bible story. It was a story of someone who had been infirmed for many years before Jesus healed them. There are three stories in the Bible where this happened. One is the story of the man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been an invalid for 38 years when he was healed by Jesus (John 5:8). Another is of a woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years when she was healed (Matthew 9:22). The final story is of a woman who had been bent-over for 18 years when Jesus healed her (Luke 13:13). Since it was so long ago that he discussed this with me, I don’t remember exactly which story it was that reignited dad’s faith for healing, but I do remember that it was not long after hearing one of these stories that he was healed.
It is easy to believe that it is God’s will for you or someone you love to remain sick or infirmed because it has been that way for so long. My dad had prayed for his own healing many times. He had also been prayed for by others countless times with no discernable improvement. This would seem to indicate that it was against God’s will for him to be healed. In spite of wavering in his faith regarding healing for his condition, my dad was able to keep turning to God for his healing and the day came when he was healed of one infirmity through prayer. He was also finally helped by doctors who had not understood how to help him previously. Don’t give up on an answer to prayer just because you have gone years with no answer, and don’t assume that God always answers prayer, but His answer is usually no to a request for healing that requires a miracle.
I want to also say that some of the people who prayed for dad when he received his healing had recently been part of a revival where they experienced a fresh move of God’s Spirit. They were open to God and were full of faith as they prayed. Jesus actually commanded his disciples in Mark 11:22 to “Have faith in God.” He further tells them in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”
One of the scriptures that dad used to build his faith was Psalm 27. He memorized the chapter to have something to hold onto while he was going through the difficult time he discussed in his testimony. Because of the important role that this scripture played in his life, I have included it as the last chapter of this book. It encouraged dad’s confidence in God and it can encourage yours as well.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me
to devour me flesh,
When my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me
my heart will not fear.
Though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shadow of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice
with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord;
lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart,
and wait for the Lord.
Gerald Sherwood had already been suffering with fibromyalgia for twenty two years when he was diagnosed with two other diseases that were so extremely rare that one doctor announced, “There’s not a chance in the world that both would occur in the same person.” The severity of his circumstances caused Gerald turned to God and to the prayer support of others. God responded by showing his faithfulness to Gerald through a combination of divine healing and miraculous medical intervention. Although it was a season of great suffering, Gerald’s faith in God grew greater from one trial to the next until he was able to say, “Even then will I be confident,” when feeling as though he was passing through the shadow of death. The account of his journey of faith along with his healing and recovery are written in this book as a personal testimony of God’s faithfulness in his life.