I had a “minor procedure” done January 8th. After multiple recommendations from my dentist, I decided to go ahead and schedule the surgery. A friend joked that the only minor procedure is one that is done on someone else. I laughed and thought – that won’t apply to me. The surgeon advised I could experience some “minor bruising and facial swelling.” I didn’t put much consideration into my recovery, I didn’t plan any time off work and had my normal full schedule of activities on my agenda. I assumed I would bounce back and recover better than normal. I planned to just keep marching. However, here we are 6 weeks laters, and I am still experiencing effects!
The procedure seemed relatively simple – I had a benign cyst on my face that need to be removed. It wasn’t simple at all. The first few days following the surgery were VERY uncomfortable. Beyond the MAJOR facial swelling, bruising, black eye and fever blisters… I also had to readjust my emotions. Every day I kept waking up with full expectation to feel better. My recovery just seemed to drag on and on. It was just really difficult. I had to rearrange my schedule, I missed social gatherings, and frankly, I was embarrassed. Despite my nearly scientific make up skills, there was just no way to hide the numb unresponsive face and the bruised and swollen cheek.
I immediately wanted to write about the spiritual lessons found in pain and suffering. What a fun topic right? A Sunday evening in January I actually spoke on the topic… Righteous Discomfort. There are a couple of different things I was reminded of during the process.
- It’s Expected, Arm yourself. The worst part of my recovery is that I didn’t expect it –and wasn’t prepared. If my expectations hadn’t been so misguided, my experience may not have been such a disappointing shock. The Word tells us to ARM ourselves and be prepared for the suffering. If Christ had to endure it, why would we think we are above it? (I Peter 4:1-16) When you buy your kid a bike, it’s likely that there will be a bike wreck. When you expect a bike wreck, you teach your kids to wear a helmet. Put on the full armor of God. It’s not a shock, we can be aware. There will be suffering, don’t be so surprised.
- It’s Worth It, Be Obedient. When He asks us to carry our cross, we can trust that He is good. “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) He had to endure 3 days of suffering and shame to give us an eternity of righteousness and healing. It was worth it for him, and it’s worth it for us. “For these light and momentary troubles are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (II Corinthians 4:17)
The longer the suffering lasted, the less I wanted to write a blog. Why?
Pre-surgery, I was having minor headaches, daily. My dentist warned that by not removing, the continuous pressure would eventually shift my teeth and could deform my jaw line. Those were pretty good reasons to pursue corrective surgery. In the short term view, the 2-3 days of post surgery pain seemed to be a good trade. Short term pain, long term gain. But now? It has drug on too long, and the extended suffering made me forget how miserable I was. (Like the Israelites remembered Egypt differently after grumbling in the Wilderness) I forgot about the daily headaches, my memory faded, and now all I can think is… Why? Because after 2-3 days turned into 2-3 weeks, and now into 2 months…. it just didn’t seem worth it anymore. So, here is one more:
3. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t see what you can’t see. We all could use a little dose of humility. God doesn’t owe us all the answers, explanations, or full disclosure. He is God. We like to validate our experiences with lessons learned, milestones towards maturity, or bumps on the way to blessing. But sometimes, we can’t figure it out and we can’t see the good. It doesn’t mean God caused it or that the devil did it. We just experience hardship, period. He may never tells me why. And yet He is God and I surrender.
The one thing that can always be clear: I didn’t experience it alone.
He is WITH me in my struggle. He is with you in your pain. Duet 31:6.