How Gluten Put Me In A Wheelchair & Jesus Got Me Out (by Beth Mathews)

Once in while you meet a human being whose joy is contagious and who truly does take after the the Proverbs 31 Woman and laughs without fear of the future. Meet my Bible school buddy, Beth. I personally witnessed Beth paralyzed, unable to walk, and unable to speak normally. These attacks would come and go for years and we had no idea what was wrong. A lot of folks make jokes about the “gluten free” craze and some are pretty funny, but in Beth’s case “gluten” is no joke. I asked her to share her amazing story. Who knows, gluten could be messing with your body too. I believe in miraculous healing, but sometimes this includes lifestyle changes. Thank you for being my guest today Beth. Love you so much and beyond amazed with your love for Jesus through the bad times and the good times. You are true Christian soldier. 🙂 -Jory 

Beth3I remember the first attack very well. I was a senior at high school. That night, I was sitting in the top row of the movie theater with an old boyfriend, when suddenly I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. We ran out of the movie theater. When the paramedics came, they said it was a panic attack, but I felt there was more to it than that. This was the beginning of an eight-year odyssey through a mysterious illness, that I survived due to God’s grace.

In a typical attack, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe, and there was a sense of weight on my chest. This was frightening, and would lead to an actual panic attack, with numbness in the extremities and lightheadedness. I would always end up on the floor. I got to know the floor very well, at church, at home, at strangers’ houses, doctors’ offices, and at work.

I went to doctor after doctor but found no help. Every doctor said my problem was depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. They told me I had anxiety of which I was not aware; the only anxiety I was experiencing was anxiety about whether or not I would find a doctor who believed me and would help me. They gave me anti-depressants, which I would try. Whether it was a reaction to the drugs or a development of the mysterious illness, I don’t know, but the attacks became much worse, lasting for a period of six to eight hours each time and involving slurred speech and the disability to walk or barely move.  

When this worsening of the illness happened, I was taking a semester off my studies at Christ for the Nations Institute. It was very difficult to function. I would be in the middle of a sentence and it felt as if someone took an eraser and erased my brain. My head would drop and all I could say was “ahhhhh”. Then I would fall, sometimes convulsing on the floor. I would then have an urgent need to go to the bathroom, which sometimes led to great embarrassment.

God helped me continue my life throughout this struggle, which lasted for eight years. During this time, I was able to graduate from Christ for the Nations Institute, finish Discipleship Training School at Youth with a Mission, and spend a year with Youth with a Mission in Guadalajara, Mexico. I also went on a number of short-term mission trips, found the love of my life, and married. Without God’s miraculous intervention, I would not have been able to do these things.

One example of God’s intervention stands out in my memory. I was in the middle of my second semester at Christ for the Nations Institute, and I was doing well. Then I began having attacks every day, day after day, for ten days. The Dean of Women sent me to a neurologist, and a week later, his findings came back: there was nothing wrong that he could find to explain my attacks. The Dean of Women was talking about sending me home. I was devastated.

I met then with a group of my friends and poured my heart out to them, my pain and disappointment in the medical system and my unhappiness about having to leave in the middle of the year.

We began talking about God’s power and grace, and then began spontaneously to sing worship songs and to pray. Our prayers centered not on my desire for healing but on God’s almighty love.

~~~ ~~~

We praised God in the middle of my storm; we lifted His name when we had no answers. We worshipped the Lord because of who He is, not because of what was happening.

~~~ ~~~

That was the last of that set of attacks. God stopped the attacks so I could finish my time at college. God heard our praise and our prayers and gave me a miracle. That was a time that I will never forget.

In 2009, following some other health problems and an operation on my knee, I was trying different things in a hope that something would help me. I tried a gluten-free diet and almost immediately felt some improvement. My energy levels rose. I was having no attacks.

One day, after about two months on the gluten-free diet, I ate a little gravy that contained gluten. I had a reaction that was milder than my earlier attacks but so similar that I was certain it was the same thing. Since then, I have found that, if I eat a tiny bit of gluten, I have problems breathing and feel tired; if I eat as much as half a bowl of pasta, I have a full attack that lasts all day.

Wheat (gluten) affects my whole body and mind, and interferes with my hormones, immune system, emotions, everything! It still boggles my mind that wheat can do that to me!

I am so grateful that God was able to get me through the eight years during which I had no idea what was wrong with me, and that He eventually led me to the answer when I was unable to find help from a physician.

I don’t know why God hasn’t healed me from this intolerance or from other health issues, but I do know that He has had His hand on me the whole time. I know that we can’t see the whole picture, but I do know that God has a purpose for my story. If you are reading this and can understand on a personal level what I’m talking about, know that you are not alone.

With any kind of circumstance in life, God is bigger than all that we see. No matter what you are facing, trust in God. There is hope, there is always hope.

~~~  ~~~

My name is Beth Mathews and I am married to an amazing man, Jay! I have the cutest puppy ever, Lucy! I have dreams of being a nurse and will soon be working on getting a Certified Nursing Assistant degree and will work my way up to being a nurse. I am also writing a book about my life, which will include these stories and so much more, about health, love, broken hearts, happiness, hope and life! I am a bubbly Jesus lover, who loves life, people, chocolate and coffee! I love music, and to sing and write music. I bake cakes and have a small business, Sweet Cakes by Beth. Yes I bake cakes I can’t eat! Follow me on Twitter @EmmBeth.

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  • Wonderful to hear a story of healing. My mother has been experiencing vertigo for the last month and has had to keep doing what she normally does by raising her grandson, my nephew. And in the midst of the storm, the Lord has sustained her. Thank you for the reminder to praise the Lord in the middle of the storm.

  • I enjoyed this story very much, however I noticed that wheat was the only substance mentioned. A gluten sensitivity, or Celiac disease also includes other grains such as barley and rye. I have a brother as well as other relatives with the condition. I mention this only because I’m sure you want your articles to be free of any misunderstandings. Does Beth have a sensitivity to gluten or to wheat? Which ever, the working of the Lord in her life is in no way diminished.

    • Hey Lori! I have a sensitivity to wheat flour. But saying I eat a gluten free diet can be easier, cause I do. But it’s wheat flour that does this to me. I don’t want any misunderstandings! I am also unaware of any other diagnosis right now. I know I don’t have celiac. Thank you for your encouragement!

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