On January 3, 2014, Amarillo experienced an Indian Summer-like day. For me, it symbolized a promise, a prelude of a exciting and blessed year.
I ran errands early in the morning and by eleven only one item remained on my to do list. It was a pleasant 70 degrees. Light in spirit, intoxicated by the essence of the day and Knee-deep in sunshine, I arrived at my last stop; Walgreen’s. I picked up my prescription. With an extra bounce in my stride I walked across the parking lot to my car. My head full of plans for the upcoming weekend. Suddenly I’m fighting gravity but to no avail. I crashed. I don’t know what happened…I just fell.
Good Samaritans quickly came to my rescue. They couldn’t help me up. The excruciating pain demanded I stay put. The ambulance towed me off to Baptist St. Antony’s Hospital. Family members waited on me to arrive at the ER. After several ex-rays the doctors gave us an incredulous diagnoses. I shattered my left knee and broke both elbows. I didn’t want to ask the common question asked, when adversity strikes, but like a vulture it swirled around in my head, “Why me Lord? Why?” Although I didn’t ask it, the question lingered.
As I had done many times before, I put this calamity in God’s hands. I trusted the Lord to walk with me through this inconvenience. It took 11 screws and a plate to repair my broken knee and the surgery went well. The therapist were truly heaven-sent. My recovery, at the hospital, surprised my family and medical team. After 21 days in the hospital, I went home. I survived the fall and all that came with it, but the enemy isn’t easily dissuaded. Life isn’t simply about surviving; the greater and most important part of life is thriving. This is where the real work is done and it’s messy.
I thought I was on easy street, when I got discharged from the hospital. Not until I got home did I feel the degree of my infirmity. I was helpless to do much of anything for myself and even less capable of helping out around the house. I’m not sure when my focus on Hebrews 1:11 got pushed out of mind, but it did. I woke up one morning and the silhouette of my wheelchair, against the bedroom window, threw me into a frenzy. I felt worthless. Why live only to exist?
“Be angry and sin not” (Eph. 4:26) but I was angry. With two broken arms and a busted knee I didn’t have many options. Suffering this way just seemed so unfair. I went to the book of Job looking for a solution. Actually, I went looking for a short cut. I wanted to go from A to Z with as little effort as possible. I needed to feel the promise of, “By His stripes you have been healed.” I wanted something tangible. I didn’t find a solution and as a matter of fact the epilogue in the last chapter of the book has a fairy-tale ending. But you know what, the fairy-tale ending caused me to take another look at the book of Job. Gosh who doesn’t like a happily ever after ending? It gave me hope. My struggling faith needed a boost and hope is a great catalyst.
In the book of Job, I saw a reflection of my struggling faith. When everything in life goes well and much to my plan, my faith pays great honor to God. In suffering, I should be able to pay greater honor to Him because he is God, but I wimped out. Instead I let the, “Why,” take the upper hand. I could deal better with my situation if only God would explain, “Why I have to suffer so,” Not too long ago after hearing about my dilemma, a woman said to me, “Sounds like God has a bone to pick with you.” “Yes, Yes”, I thought enthusiastically. That statement sounded so good to me. Finally someone on my side. Let’s look at my enthusiasm for what it really is–an excuse to continue with my pity party.
As my faith spiraled chaotically, so did my trust in God. Can you see my insanity? Satan was using my mental state to destroy my relationship with the Lord. Many times I couldn’t pray. Oh, what the heck let me be honest. I didn’t want to pray. I ranted and raved. I tried to force God’s hand. I kept showering him with my expectations. The essence, the presence of God departed. For weeks I spent my time alone in the wilderness of God’s silence. Exhausted I put my temper tantrum aside. I waited to regain strength then in the stillness He said, “Hey it’s going to be okay. I’m here. Trust me.” It’s so simple, yet I complicate things by being stubborn in how I think God should treat me. My job is to place my suffering before God as an offering rather than demand that he take it away.
Just as God didn’t depart from Job, He didn’t depart from me. It’s in my human frailties that I set up the barriers, barriers, that make it seem that God just up and leaves. I truly believed God had a bone to pick with me. Through the book of Job, I came to the realization that suffering is the result of spiritual conflict that I don’t get to experience. The conflict in the spiritual world is real and is continuously going on.
In the beginning of the book Satan is creating all kinds of drama. He boldly crashes an angelic meeting the Lord is hosting. When God asks him where he has been, Satan just can’t resist bragging about his successes in the world. Satan believes that we serve God only when things are going well in our lives. He has the audacity to tell God that if He were to take everything from me (Job) that I will curse him to his face.
God takes on this challenge. And the Lord said to Satan, behold she is in your hand; only spare her life. Imagine my humility when I realized that God believes in me, that he trusts me and has faith in me. He knows I have the heart of a warrior. The creator of all, the author of my life sheds grace upon grace on me. He is all in. He doesn’t straddle the fence like I do. He gives me so much more than the pittance I give Him. As long as Satan goes against the government of God’s kingdom, I will be God’s proving ground. Now when suffering comes to me as it will, I can with great joy bring it before His throne as an offering.
Fred G. Zaspel, author of, Lessons for Those Who Suffer, asks, “Do you see the point? When you find yourself in suffering, do you still trust God? Or do you feel that he owes you an explanation? It does no honor to God to trust Him only when we understand fully what he is doing. That is not faith at all. It honors Him when we trust Him implicitly. When with Job we can say with heart of love, ‘though He slay me, yet will I trust him’ (13:15). This is what honors Him.” My passion is to honor God and to do so in my writing, eating, sleeping, and in all the small and big things. I want to honor Him in my suffering rather than question what I don’t understand. In the face of suffering I will stand boldly and know that in doing so I can overcome the enemy.
Finally, I saw my suffering as God’s offer to a new level of faith. I released my hold on self-pity and stepped over the threshold into a higher trust. 2014 is my year of transformation and spiritual growth. He has given me a testimony to share with others that suffer and it is my hope that they will too go through a transformation worthy our unchangeable God. He is ever with me and He is in control. To be healed I have to change. There will be other times of adversity and I will always be his proving ground. As with Job, the testing of my faith developed perseverance. I am equipped, convicted and committed.
DON’T LET LIFE BECOME AN EXCUSE.