I seem to have hit the age where I have to hold a book an elbow’s length away, in order for it to come into focus. Things that used to be crystal clear are now more likely to be blurry, and I’ve noticed my eyesight is changing, not helped by the overuse of screens during the past year of endless lockdowns.

Recently, I reluctantly realised I might need to embrace the need for bifocals or varifocals, so I booked an optician’s appointment …


Donning my obligatory facemask, I arrive to find the front door locked. Floor to ceiling glass, I can see the receptionist walking towards me, clutching hold of a large bunch of keys. Stopping to call for my name through the glass, she makes sure I’m who they are expecting, and unlocks the door.

Stepping back, she smiles warmly, as I am confronted with a hand sanitiser station, and invited to take a seat.

I notice her name badge, which tells me she’s called Cathy, and we soon get chatting – Cathy from her vantage point behind the reception desk, and me in a soft-cushioned waiting room chair, flanked by rows of spectacle frames all along the wall to my right.

Cathy tells me that her parents originally came from Ghana, but settled in the UK, which is where she and her siblings have been raised. She loves her job, and feels so grateful to have had an income during all the lockdowns. She comes across as kind, caring and a genuine ‘people person’.

When the optician emerges to usher out his patient, he introduces himself as Andrew, apologises profusely for running late, and hastily retreats to the testing room – while Cathy explains to me how he will be going through the rigmarole of cleaning every conceivable surface area, something he’s required to do, in between each patient.


About half an hour later, my sight test complete, my face is clamped against a machine that tests ‘field of vision’. It’s a slightly lopsided endeavour, as I manoeuvre my eyes, one at a time, into position. It’s not helped by the fact I’ve got a facemask looped around my ears.

Suddenly, there is an almighty thud, muffled slightly by distance.

Andrew swears. “Someone’s fallen over,” he declares with a soft South African lilt. I lift my face from the machine, wondering how on earth he can tell. “I need to go check if everything’s OK,” he tells me, heading for the door.

Along the corridor, I can hear a commotion. So I grab my glasses – because it always helps to be able to see in the midst of a crisis – and I perch them on my nose, and stand in the doorway, trying to get a handle on what’s happening.

Andrew is kneeling by the side of Cathy, the receptionist, her legs sprawling out of the room at the end of the corridor. The strip light in the ceiling reveals it to be a kitchenette, and I watch as Andrew carefully places her in the recovery position.

“Cathy, can you hear me?” he is saying, over and over again, his voice muffled by his facemask.

I listen as he calls for an ambulance, his handset on speakerphone on the linoleum floor, answering the operator’s questions. I can hear him explaining that Cathy was recently in a car accident; that he thinks it gave her whiplash, but she’s been fine since she returned to work; that he doesn’t know why she’s suddenly collapsed in a heap on the floor.

I can hear the operator giving him instructions.


As the scene unfolds before me, I do what I do in any and every crisis: I pray.

Out loud. In the name of Jesus. From my vantage point, standing in a doorway at the other end of the corridor. No holds barred. Notwithstanding my facemask. I pray.

I have no idea why this incident has happened during the short window of time when I am in the vicinity. But I am trusting that God knows, and all I can do is focus on Cathy and pray for her health and healing.

As I do so, Andrew looks up from the floor of the kitchenette, where he is kneeling over Cathy, willing her to respond. Noticing me standing in the doorway at the other end of the corridor, he calls out to ask if I’m OK.

“I’m fine,” I reassure him, “I’m praying. I’m a Christian, and I’ve seen people healed through prayer in the name of Jesus, so I’m just praying for Cathy to be healed.”

He smiles at me warmly. “Cathy will be pleased,” he says. “She goes to church, and often prays for people herself.” He pauses a moment, and beckons me over. “Why don’t you come and pray with her here, so she can hear you?”

Seizing the invitation without hesitation, I head down the corridor and stand as close as I can to the kitchenette door, while maintaining the correct social distancing etiquette.

Seeing Cathy sprawled on the floor, acutely aware that half an hour earlier she was greeting me with the warmest of welcomes, I feel an oh-so-familiar surge of courage-and-compassion rising up within me.

“Cathy,” I say, through my facemask, “I don’t know if you can hear me, but I know your spirit will be able to hear me, even if your body is unconscious, and I say to you now, in the name of Jesus Christ, be healed.”

There is a slight murmur from the floor, and the faintest of flickers in her uppermost arm.

Then the sound of an ambulance siren can be heard outside.

Andrew heads for the door to let the paramedics into the building, and I continue to pray for Cathy, calling on the name of Jesus, and using whatever words the Holy Spirit gives me.


About half an hour later, Cathy is stretchered out of the building and into the back of the waiting ambulance.

It’s difficult to concentrate on the rest of my eye check, but it opens up a conversation with Andrew. “It’s always good to put my Boy Scout skills into practice,” he jests, a twinkle in his eye, above his facemask, and I nod my agreement.

Then he becomes more reflective. “I’ll never understand why bad things happen to good people,” he says. “Cathy’s got a heart of gold. She’s always putting other people first. I just don’t get it.”

I tell him that I agree, but I also remind him that she is in God’s hands, and that He’s in the business of healing people, which is why I was praying.

“Maybe I should learn how to pray too,” he muses. “It’s never done any harm to Cathy,” he adds, before trailing off.

Before I know it, he’s turning his attention to updating my eye details on the computer system, and I find myself praying silently for him, mouthing the words from behind my facemask.


A couple of days later, I call the opticians to find out how Cathy is doing, hoping against hope that I’m not breaching any data protection rules in asking after her welfare.

“She’s on the mend,” the cheery receptionist tells me. “It was incredible really. She revived in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.”

“Wow!” I exclaim.

“They kept her in overnight for observation,” the receptionist adds, “but she was discharged and sent home yesterday.”

“Please give her my regards,” I say to the receptionist. “I was the customer who was praying for her, while she was unconscious.”

“Sure, no problem,” she says.

As I put the phone down, I find myself rejoicing. “Thank you God!” I say, “Please forgive my doubt in your goodness, and care for Cathy.”


Have you ever been in a crisis situation, like this, where the timing means it’s you, not someone else, who’s part of the response? If you are a Christian, did it occur to you that perhaps God deliberately timed it that way?

When confronted with a crisis, what is your response? Do you pray automatically? If not, how about asking God to give you that instinct?

As ever, all thoughts and reflections would be welcome in the comments below.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash



  1. Wow – my last trip to the optician was significantly less dramatic! Amazing that you were there at the time and could pray for Cathy, and witness to Andrew.

  2. Thank you so much for another wonderful story of your obedience and God’s goodness. I so look forward to getting your posts each week xx

  3. Lizzie Heimburger Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Jo – what an encouragement to be ready to pray for healing. Looking forward to your book 🙂

  4. I love the way that your default reaction was to pray, and that God honoured that. The line ‘I feel an oh-so-familiar surge of courage-and-compassion rising up within me’ really spoke to me. I have experienced that, but it is also easy to ignore it too. The more we respond to that urge of the Holy Spirit, the more He will put us in situations where we can respond! I’m sure that is why you were there right when Cathy needed your prayers. God knew you would be obedient to Him.

    • Thank you for your encouragement, Joy! I’m so pleased to hear that this story has spoken to you, and that you’re learning to recognise the ‘nudge’ of the Holy Spirit when it comes.

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  7. I loved this!! Yes I relate and I laughed and cried with joy. I also like the article about the stories you have written. I’m a big advocate of story and love that Cohen song! Thank you. Delighted to meet you. Dawn

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      This is so encouraging to hear, Dawn! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

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