It was just supposed to be a quick in and out.
It was all supposed to be a straight forward minor surgical procedure to relieve an abscess on my right breast. A simple local anesthetic, a simple cut, and a drainage of the abscess. Sounds easy enough, right? The surgery was not what was expected. I saw the surgeon on Friday. A lovely and gracious man. Put me at ease with his bedside manner. A very personable man. He checked out the affected area. There was hardness there and the surgeon had an ultrasound done that should multiple abscesses connected and a hematoma, a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues. He put in the freezing, he cut the area, and attempted to drain the affected area. He left it as an open wound, packed it, hoping that the pressure relieved will cause the area to drain of the fluid and reduce the swelling of the area, and begin to heal up naturally. So now, I have had to go in daily to have my wound unpacked and cleaned and repacked by a nurse. The drill is pretty easy to follow. This will go on daily as required, and then likely reduced to every other day until it heals up. So it was not the quick in and out I expected or hoped for. But God is good and I put my trust in Him, and put my trust in the surgeon. I am in good hands.
Learning to roll with it.
I am reminded of the wisdom found in Proverbs 16:9
The heart of man plans His way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (ESV)
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. (MSG)
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (NIV)
So today, this the fourth day, I am here at home getting ready to go to the office to work. My added routine this week is having the added challenge of driving to the clinic after work and having my wound unpacked, cleaned and repacked, and then repeating this the rest of the week. It has begun to drain as it is supposed to do, so it is all a good thing. I have meds for the pain if needed. I just have to roll with it.
The reality of not being in control.
It is a rare admission anyone makes, but the reality of a lack of control over anything in out lives is a shock to the system, and especially so for people who have control issues to begin with. Over the years I have learned that in reality, we people have very little control over anything at all. All we can truly do is minimize the effects of the lack of control over the events and incidents that occur in our daily lives.
I remember when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I had this hopeless and helpless feeling as a parent, that I could not put a band aid on the cancer, and kiss the booboo and make it go away. That was an incredible shock to my system and my world. Theologically it was a shock to my belief system and my understanding of God and His dealings with the world, and it was at that point in time that I began a lifelong discovery of a theology of suffering, and that in reality, suffering is part of the human condition, and God does not rescue us from it, but rather meets us in the suffering and has never left us on our own in the midst of suffering.
Jesus identifies with me in my suffering.
The incarnation of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the very real God-man, the personification of God in human form, and his life among us, has made God very real and identifiable to our condition as human beings. God knows and understands because He became like us. He knew first hand what it was to go hungry, thirsty, without the things He needed. He knew what it was to wander without a place to lay His head. He knew what it was to be loved and to be hated. He knew what it was to be rejected, imprisoned, beaten, whipped, scourged, tortured and killed. He knew the beautiful and the ugly of human experience, and yet without sin. He knew death, and became the first of the the resurrection. Jesus Christ understands my condition and your condition.
Jesus heals in diverse ways and means, and no matter which way, He is present in the moment.
What I have found to be true in my life, is that I have never been separated by God. My own awareness of God or the my lack of awareness of God is the only thing that separates me from God. It is our spiritual awareness of God and the spirit world that is marred and hinders us from truly seeing God and life as it truly is.
The apostle Paul, wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The reality is, in many situations we do not see what it truly going on. God will reveal it at the proper time, when we come to Him and seek Him and His direction and wisdom. Until then, we are totally unaware, as if we have veils over our eyes, unable to see what truly is.
God is present with us.
In my suffering I am not separated from God. I can if I choose use my suffering as a means of reaching out to God, especially when I do not sense His presence. Our hearts and our aches and pains in the body and spirit can hinder, dull, push out that awareness of His presence. So it is good to remain tender toward God, and tender toward your fellow man, and seek to know, and seek to hear the voice of God when you are not sensing His presence. He is there, the whole time. The issue is our own awareness.
God heals us in diverse ways
God will heal us in diverse ways. Physically we may experience instantaneously healing. I have experienced this myself. I have even prayed for people and they have been healing in a moment. God may heal us over time, little by little, and I have seen this in my life as well as in the lives of others. It is still supernatural, but it is not instant. God may heal us through medicine, through surgeons, physicians, and medications, and I am sure many of you can attest to the truth of this. In both cases healing takes place, and it may be a combination of divine intervention by God directly, or it may be through the use of medical assistance and procedures. In any case, God is active and gives wisdom to the medical staff and team so that healing can take place. All I know is God heals, on His own, and by His own means, and at other times, through the medical establishment within our society. I have seen God move through both means.
I have also seen people suffer in an ongoing way, and yet as people have suffered they have been tenderhearted toward God. They have demonstrated a great faith in God, and God has not abandoned them to their suffering, but has rather been very present in the midst of the suffering. These people have demonstrated to me how important it is to embrace the moments, the moments of encounter with God even in the midst of pain and suffering.
Willingly engage in the moment
I found myself this past weekend, on my first and second visits to the clinic, to be praying at the time. I was praying the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner,” the ancient prayer of the Eastern Church that dates to the Early Church.
It was without conscious effort. Lori and I have been using the Jesus Prayer for quite a few years now, and it is repeated over and over in an attitude of humility and meditation. It has a rhythm that syncs with your breathing and it is an incredible thing to sense God while praying in this way. As I said it was without a conscious effort. I found myself praying the Jesus prayer while the nurse was readying to unpack my wound. I felt a twinge of pain, and it was then that I realized I was praying. I closed my eyes and continued to pray and I felt peace and the presence of Christ there with me in my awkwardness and pain in the situation. I was calm. I was at total peace. I entered into the moment. I could not escape this moment. Jesus did not remove all these processes from me. He did not deliver me with instant healing. He was and He is present in my pain. I realized again, just how important it is to be present in the moment, and to seize it for what it is and find God there with me in the moment.
There is no moment where God is not present. It is only your awareness and your willingness that is at issue as to whether you engage with God in that moment. He has never left you or forsaken you. He is there, right now, with you. Just ask Him and engage with Him in this moment. Peace.