(By Lois Robinson)
The 2 questions I am constantly asked are “How’s your knee doing?” and “How’s your summer going?” I appreciate people asking me and taking an interest in my life! In answering those questions, it has led me to realize that both the knee and summer fun are closely linked together and serve as huge frustrations for me. The life that I once knew of working hard Monday through Thursday and then resting, worshiping and playing Friday through Sunday, has dramatically changed. Life is now consumed with a battle of the mind, body and spirit as I daily walk through physical therapy, heating pads, ice packs when needed, special chairs to sit in to control back/neck spasms, what trips away can look like with so many limitations, CPM machine and waking up 5-6 times per night trying to get comfortable. In addition to the above, I need to monitor medications to keep it all under control as well. It really works on my brain, heart and life perspective. UGH!!
How’s my summer going? My answer is usually a short one: “Well, nothing really changes for me during the summer except the weather.” Short and sweet :)
Where is God in all of this? Why is He allowing this to be such an extended trial? What am I supposed to be learning? Am I doing something wrong? Not enough exercises? Too many exercises? Wrong set of doctors? Am I getting addicted to these medications? What if I stay this way the rest of my life? ‘Oh Abba, Save Me!” This is my daily battle of the mind and heart. It is no easy task to wrestle for truth in all of this.
I have recognized and am reminded frequently that God is all over this situation! Where, you may ask? Let me try and explain the best that I can.
When this “slight sprain of the knee” occurred 3 years ago, I was told that I needed surgery. I was shocked. At that moment I knew I needed the prayer warriors to start praying. SURGERY?! I thought this was a sprain! LFA had a healing service shortly after and asked me to pray for people. I knew I needed prayer before I prayed over anyone else. I had nothing to give. I felt led to go to one of my pastors for prayer. He began to pray for me, laying his hands on my head. I began to feel a heat pour down over my head and through my body. This, I have come to understand, is the manifestation of the Spirit of God. God reminded me at that point that He was in control of everything. Since then, I have undergone 3 surgeries, all resulting in high levels of pain, confusion and physical therapy. Life has drastically changed for me, but I have never forgotten that moment when God reminded me of His presence and sovereignty.
I see God teaching me how to be Jesus in the physical therapy office and teaching me that I am only experiencing a taste of what others with lifetime challenges face. How pain and suffering easily causes one to go into isolation, depression, feeling all alone in the battle. Teaching me how HUGE it is to be and live in community. Teaching me to fight for Truth. Teaching me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Teaching my heart how to have more compassion for those with long term struggles with pain and suffering. Teaching me to trust Him in all things! Ultimately, the most valuable lesson has been that He is showing my heart a closer look at sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
Could this season of suffering, confusion and pain be a valuable part of the principle of working my salvation out with fear and trembling? I think so. This moves me into a place of gratitude and humility rather than arrogance and impatience. It postures my heart toward a loving God rather than an invisible God that has forgotten me.
I wonder what it is that you suffer with. Suffering is universal. However, our perspectives on suffering tend to differ. Everyone has a choice in how they view the suffering and how they respond in the suffering. Some tend to blame God, some ignore it, some worship it and some view it as a transformation season that pushes us into the arms of Jesus in order to know His heart more. What do you tend to do? Do you blame God, ignore it, worship it or view it as part of your transformation process?
I would encourage you to take a couple of next steps. Check out Isaiah 46:4 and take a deeper look at the places you experience suffering. A movie that had a huge impact on me was “The Passion of the Christ.” It depicted how Jesus our King responded to suffering. Particularly in the last part of the movie, He trusted and lived out His purpose and worshiped His Abba.