I savor those first few moments of the morning before I emerge from bed where I experience no pain. I lie still and pray for healing, hoping today I might feel normal again.
I roll out of bed and do the stretches recommended by my physical therapist, but so far they’ve made no difference. Before my coffee is done percolating, the burning begins — in my feet at first, and then it slowly travels up my legs.
I fight the mental battle of whether to take the medication and succumb myself to the unpleasant side effects or persevere through the discomfort. I am reminded of the time I chose the latter, and so the medication wins — again.
On the medication, my thoughts are clouded, and I am more forgetful. Words that used to flow freely drip out like a leaky faucet. Activities that once excited me now exhaust every ounce of my energy. The long-term impact of this on my health, as well as my ability to write and parent well, concerns me.
“Rest for six weeks,” the doctor instructed after viewing my MRI. “Your herniated disk will heal, taking pressure off the nerve roots. Then the pain will subside.” It’s been eight months, including multiple weeks of bed rest since that diagnosis, but there’s still no change in my disk. I’ve seen seven different specialists, yet the pain persists.
With each new appointment, I prayed for answers for how to move forward. Each doctor had his or her own opinion for what I should do, but their treatment plans returned void. God has been showing me that I can pray for answers, but I can’t put my hope in them.
With each new referral, I prayed the new doctor could help me. To some extent, this has proven true. They’ve provided medications that make me more comfortable and exercises to rebuild my strength. They’ve shared stories of those who’ve been in similar situations and come out on the other side — stories that encourage me that I can get there too. But as my emotions ride the rollercoaster of optimism and despair, God is showing me that the inner calm I desire will only come from knowing that He, and only He, is in control — and then actually living out that truth.
I can hope for healing, but I can’t base my happiness on it. I can seek the doctors’ advice, but I can’t put my trust in them. My hope and trust lies in the Lord alone and, right now, surrendering to Him means slowing down, setting aside my ambitions, and letting go of trying to control my health so I can grasp tighter to His promises.
God’s Word tells us, “After we have suffered a little while, He will restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10 NIV). I remind myself that His timing is often not ours; I am no more qualified to define “a little while” in the context of eternity than I am to know His greater plan. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and His ways are higher than my ways. But I can trust that He will work all things for good of those who love Him and that He is growing and shaping me through this (Isaiah 55:9, Romans 8:28 NIV).
Could God be using this to redirect me down a different path? To increase my compassion for others in pain? Is He asking me to wait, testing my faith, or teaching me perseverance? When I focus on having all the answers, my anxiety level rises, and I realize I need to reel my thoughts back in — to Him, His Word, and the foundational truths of my faith. Rather than fight against the discomfort, God invites me to use it to cultivate a deeper dependence on Him.
Each day, the pain is a reminder that my body is neither invincible nor eternal but a temporary home for my earthly assignment so that I might be better prepared for my heavenly one. Healing will come, and should God choose to wait until the day He brings me home, He is still good. He is still faithful. I can cling to Him for the hope and strength I need and have peace of mind in knowing He is with me. I can praise Him for modern medicine, His promise of renewal, and a shift in my perspective that profoundly impacts how I view suffering.
In our suffering, we experience the fullness of God’s grace. When our outside world is falling apart, God is making new life on the inside. While our present troubles may seem overwhelming, they are small in the context of eternity and will soon disappear, replaced by complete healing and restoration on the day we meet our Savior, Jesus Christ, in heaven.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)