I’m almost 4 weeks into recovery from surgery: a complete right shoulder replacement. The day arrived on Monday January 4, 2016. The first week was difficult because I had a reaction to the anaesthetic they used for me during the operation. I stayed one night in the hospital with very little reaction to the meds. The next day I was released to go home with my husband. By 7pm that night, I was throwing up the pain meds and water. Ugh! Richard tried to call the medical group the next morning to see what we could do to remedy the situation but the doctor was in surgery all day and his staff was unresponsive. Rich called the hospital after this pattern continued for 18 hours and they advised us to go to Urgent Care. We did. Soon after we got there, a wonderful doctor and nurse provided us with anti-nausea medication. It worked. Since that time, healing has come. Everyday is better. I want to personally thank many many people who called, sent flowers, and brought meals. Everything and each person has been much appreciated.
There have been many lessons that I have learned from this experience that continues to teach me about the comfort and love of Christ. But I want to share one particular one.
My self-based nature finds it easy to think that if I walk with God, my life will be full of vibrant colors. By colors, I mean results: great family, great kids, wonderful jobs, open doors in ministry–some stress but after all, if God loves me, things will go my way. On the other hand, if circumstances don’t go my way, an internal voice tells me that maybe God doesn’t care about me. Without a relationship to Jesus and an awareness to the lies of Satan, it can be a painful place to be.That’s why it’s so important to renew my mind with His mind. As I interact with the Word of God and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have learned that He promises to be with us in our circumstances and that He will provide us with direction and peace as we navigate personal difficulties in circumstances that don’t live up to our expectations. There is nothing in scripture that tells us we won’t suffer.
Jesus modeled how to handle life difficulties. Dr. David Timms, a favorite professor during my Master’s program, echoed this theme in a devotion that he wrote a few years ago: “Jesus even forecast His own suffering and death, and Peter pulled Him aside and read Him the riot act. ‘We’ll have none of that kind of language. That’s crazy-talk!’ he said. Or words to that effect. (Mark 8:31-33) Jesus looked and saw the other disciples and fired back at Peter: ‘Get behind Me, Satan. You have no idea how God works!’ Ouch. Did anyone see that coming? Where’s the gentle Jesus?”
Dr. Timms went on to say, “Haven’t we all responded the same way at some time? ‘Lord, what do You think You’re doing? I’m one of yours. I attend church; I give; I serve. Why have I gotten cancer? Why is my house in foreclosure? Why have my children struggled? Why is my marriage so hard? Why didn’t I get that job?” And then my voice enters in: ‘Hey Lord, I didn’t really want this operation. Why am I nauseous and sick and de-hydrated at home after surgery. And Lord, why am I in so much pain?’
Suddenly, I’m like Peter.
I don’t like suffering; suffering is for other people. But isn’t that agenda based on self interest?—the “mind set not on God’s interests, but man’s.” (NASB) And doesn’t the Bible teach ‘dying to self’ and trusting God in all circumstances(2 Cor. 6:13)? On Tuesday January 5, I remember asking God to help me enter His peace as I was throwing up and convulsing in pain after my surgery. No, I didn’t like what was happening but I experienced comfort and care in the midst of what I didn’t want to experience.
And, beyond that 18 hour time, God showed me that I should be grateful to be alive and to not have a life threatening disease. Jesus helped me look at the big picture so I could be thankful. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances'(1 Thess 5:18). I also remembered hearing Joni Eareckson-Tada talk about how God uses suffering in our lives in ways that we do not usually understand. In case you’ve never heard of her, Joni is a parapalegic, confined to a wheelchair since an accident that occurred when she was 17 years old. She has turned difficult circumstances into a powerful life that speaks transcendently to a broken sinful world that Christ looks to redeem. Although I’m glad that I’m feeling better, my difficult circumstances fade when I see the lives of many people around me. Suffering is a given in a world that rejects a redemptive Saviour. In my walk with Jesus, I have learned that God doesn’t waste anything that we experience. And me? I want to grow when I suffer and become a better human being. No victim card, no purposeless thinking. That is my prayer for you.
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14:27
Next time expect an update on the publication of my book ‘Dance is Prayer in Motion: Soul to Sole Choreography for Christian Dance Ministry’.