This week was the fourth anniversary of the surgery that was supposed to repair the errors made on my first knee procedure. That second surgery ended up causing irreversible damage to the knee joint and, as they say, the rest is history. I had actually forgotten that the anniversary was close, until I was reminded by Facebook. The “On This Day” app popped up to remind me of the anticipation I had shared the week before that surgery, that I would finally be able to get back to normal, and that this surgeon’s error would finally be corrected after two years of limping and hobbling.
Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that that was not the case. That second surgery caused all kinds of problems for me physically. But, as I look back over these last six years, I see some very positive spiritual things I’d like to share with you. Maybe, as you deal with your own struggles, you will be able to apply the lessons I’ve learned, and see the good things God has done for you.
The first gift God has given me through this journey is the realization of how very self-focused I am. God was not surprised by this, but I certainly was. I learned that my default response, when things are difficult, is self-pity. As the realization sunk in that the surgery had made things much worse, my heart went immediately to self: Why me? Did I make the wrong decision? What have I done that God should punish me this way? Can he really love me if He is choosing to allow this to happen? It took some time, and a skilled biblical counselor, to set me straight, but eventually He granted me repentance from a pattern of self-focus and self-pity. While I am not perfect in this, He has given me many victories, and a heart-level change in this area.
Secondly, God has increased my compassion for those who suffer. He has especially brought into the light my judgmental attitude toward people who complain of pain or immobility, but look perfectly fine to me. Before all this happened, I had been guilty of harshly judging people for complaining about what they can’t do, believing in my heart that they were just making excuses. What I have learned is that no one knows anyone else’s level of pain, and no one has liberty to judge anyone. I have received more than one disgusted look from people who see me walk fairly normally from my handicapped spot into the store, not knowing how carefully I have to conserve my steps, so that I can last to the end of the day.
Finally, God’s greatest gift to me in all of this: His call on my heart to finally complete my certification and become a Biblical Counselor. This has been a desire of mine for nearly 10 years, but one thing after another has prevented me from pursuing it. I have always been an on-the-go kind of person, always busy. When driving and walking became difficult or impossible, I was forced to stay home and deal with my own heart issues. As I found freedom from the bondage of self-focus and self-pity, I became excited about helping others to be free from the bondage of life-dominating sin, and to show them that God can redeem their pain. The Lord stirred up my heart to get my training done and get to work for Him, and that is exactly what I have done.
So, looking back on these last six years, I won’t say there is no sadness for what I have lost. But the truth is, what I have gained far outweighs those losses. How ‘bout you? What has God done for your heart as you have travelled your own path of suffering? I would be very interested to hear about it in the comments.
My God has been faithful and true to me, never wasting a single moment of pain or suffering. By His mercy, I have been enabled to serve Him in exactly the way He wants me to, and I am so grateful. He has indeed redeemed my pain, my suffering, and my loss. Hallelujah! What a Redeemer! What a Savior!