Monday, July 25, 2016

Listening and Trusting

As many of you know, I have been dealing with the pain of two failed knee replacements for about seven years now, with pain and problems going back ten years. I have tried many kinds of treatments, both conventional and otherwise, to ease the pain and improve the function. Some have helped and others have done more harm than good. A few months ago, after a treatment that had helped in the past did not produce the expected result, I decided to have a talk with God about it.

Now, I had certainly prayed about all this many times before, but this was different. I was very weary of trying and failing to improve my situation, and I really wanted to be done struggling. So, I told my Father that I was going to take a break from trying to fix this, and turn my attention more to my heart about it than to the circumstance itself. Then, He started leading me to all kinds of readings and teachings about patience. I was amazed at the conversations, sermons, and devotions that I just “happened” to run across in the next few weeks. “Be patient. I am working” seemed to be His message to me, almost on a daily basis.

So I did something I don’t do enough these days. I listened. I began to take it easier at the gym, no longer pushing myself to get stronger. I’ve always been very aware that I can lose strength in this leg pretty easily if I’m not diligent to consistently do the PT exercises, and I find it very hard to resist the temptation to push myself. But, with this message of patience ringing in my ears, I chose not to push for more weight or more reps. I just stuck with what I’d been assigned to do, and trusted the Lord that it would be enough. This was not easy to do. My fearful heart has a distinct sense of dread of going back to the days of weakness and pain after the surgeries and subsequent injuries. But The Lord convinced my heart that this was an opportunity to learn to trust Him more, and I decided to grab it.

I have been amazed at the results. My leg is getting stronger! I am able to stand about twice as long as I could even just a few weeks ago. Walking is less painful, and I don’t find myself looking for a chair all the time! This is very odd for me and honestly, a little baffling. Perhaps, by pushing myself too hard, I was aggravating the injuries that were causing the pain, and pushing weak joints and tendons too hard. By doing this, I was keeping up a steady condition of inflammation that could never settle down. All of this because of fear and a lack of trust in God. Fear that if I backed off, I would suffer more.

This fear was the fruit of a lack of trust in God’s ability to sustain me in my pain. 

I desired to provide comfort for myself more than I desired to see God work in my heart through my pain.  In retrospect, I think I knew at times that I was causing some of my own pain by pushing too hard, but I think it just was somehow satisfying to know that I was doing something to help myself. That spirit of independence and self-sufficiency dies hard in most of us, and I am no exception. In my determination to fix my problem, I made it worse.

But it was not just the physical pushing that was to blame. It was also spiritual “pushing” in my heart. I had become impatient with God. After asking him for years to take the pain away; to heal my leg; to restore my mobility, I had lost my patience with Him. If I’m honest, other than a cursory “please heal my leg” now and then, I had given up praying for healing and pain relief, convinced by circumstantial evidence that He was not going to do it. While I know that circumstances are not a good indicator of what God may be doing, I used them as such anyway. My analytical, black and white brain was operating under an either/or attitude, even though it was not a conscious decision: “Dear God, either fix my leg or I will fix it myself.” This was the heart-set of which I had to repent at my meeting with God that day.

When I listened to Him instructing me to be patient, and began to obey that instruction, then He blessed me. I don’t know for sure that things will continue to improve, but I have learned a valuable lesson here: God’s timing is perfect, and I can trust Him to lead me as I work to maintain my mobility and manage my pain. I am not the owner of my body, God is; and He will use it, whether in pain or comfort, standing or sitting, strong or weak, for His glory. As He is glorified, I will be blessed. Hallelujah! What a Healer! What a Savior!