Monday, April 11, 2016

Answered Prayer, Revisited

A year or so ago, I wrote about a new therapy I had that was very successful in reducing the pain and immobility in my knee. In case you missed it, you can read about it here and here, and here too! In that first post, I talked about concerns I had that this therapy might not bring permanent change, and that my knee might revert back to how it was before. This is exactly what has happened. Over time, in spite of continuing to do the PT exercises and such, the knee has declined somewhat. It is still much better than before the therapy, but it is definitely not as good as when we first finished. So today, I will return to my therapist for a repeat of this series of treatments, in the hope that I will benefit from it as before.

As I began to think about getting more therapy, all of the old anxieties and worries began to resurface. Not that I’m worried that it will be painful or difficult, or even that it won’t work as I hope. I know that the Lord can use me for His glory no matter what condition my body is in, and I can rest in that. There is just something about physical therapy that brings up all kinds of emotional junk. Going to therapy brings back so many unpleasant memories, all of which are accompanied by the emotions of the early days after the surgery that started me on this journey.  There was a great deal of intense physical pain back then, and I had not yet had the benefit of this refining fire to strengthen me against despair, as I have now. I really have nothing to fear today, yet there is this gnawing dread.

Now, if I took my feelings to a psychologist, she would probably tell me that I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Any time that something really terrible, traumatic, or painful happens, there can be ongoing fear, depression, flashbacks, and other symptoms that would be categorized as PTSD. I don’t doubt the validity of this condition at all, as it seems to me that these feelings and symptoms would come naturally after a traumatic event. In other words, it seems like a normal, natural response. Where the psychologist and I would part ways, however, is when it comes to treatment.

I don’t know whether you could describe my problem as PTSD or not, but whatever it is, I know the solution: I have to change my thinking from self-focused, worldly thinking, to Christ-focused, biblical thinking. As I think about going to this appointment, I need to make sure my focus is on Christ, not on myself, my leg, or any other earthly thing. As bad memories and painful changes come to mind, I must take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. Instead of allowing “flashbacks” to lead me into thoughts of pain, regret, and what-if’s, I must think on the many ways the Lord has provided for me and blessed me through those things I am remembering. But even more than thinking on His work in this trial, I need to think on Him.

The Hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus came to mind as my friend and I talked about how thinking on Christ would quiet these fearful thoughts. One line of it especially echoed in my head:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

I looked up that hymn today with the intention of reminding myself of the rest of the words, and I stumbled across a brief biography of the author, Helen Lemmel. She got her inspiration for this song from the writings of Lillias Trotter, a brilliant artist who gave up her pursuit of art when she surrendered her life to become a missionary to the Muslims in Algeria.  The following is an excerpt from Trotter’s tract, Which Passion Will Prevail?

“Turn your soul's vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him."

As I read these words, a light came on in my heart, and I realized that my soul’s vision has not been turned to Jesus, but to the things He does for me. As I’ve wrestled these last few weeks with the knowledge that I will have to do something about my knee soon, I’ve tried hard to change my focus to remember how God has provided, protected, healed, and helped me, and I’d thought that this was the path to peace about the situation. But, once again, the Lord must remind me that it’s not about me, even if it’s about Him and me. It has to be just about Him. I must die to myself and focus only on Christ if I am to overcome fear about this, or any circumstance in this world.

My dear friend, are you living in dread of an impending appointment with a doctor, therapist, or surgeon? Fearful of a procedure you know you must have, or depressed about a relentlessly painful condition? Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look and look at Him. Read the red letters in the Gospels, and really soak your heart in Christ. I have to leave soon for my appointment, but first I’m going to open my Bible and look at Christ, His heart, His love and compassion for me. In other words, I will draw near to the Healer. As I do so, I know that the things of earth, including the fears that accompany this therapy, will grow strangely dim. I will look to the light of His glory and grace, and be healed.
I’ll leave you with a link to a video of the song. I hope you’ll listen, and turn your soul’s vision to Jesus today.