A Stitch in Time

Today is the day. At 2:45, I go into surgery for the second time to get this left shoulder fixed.  I appreciate all of you who have said you will pray for me.  Also, pray for my surgeon, Dr. Dorizas, a godly man I’ll “introduce” you to later, if I get the chance.  I’m going to attempt to keep updates on my website, if you’re interested.  I’m not sure if they’ll all show up on Facebook or not, so if you want to keep up, you’ll probably have to check back from time to time here.  

Many people have asked me if it’s depressing having to go in for a second surgery for the same problem.  Honestly, it’s not.  Yeah, I had to process it for about half of a day when I first heard the news, but I’ve been dealing with this shoulder pain for about three years with the first surgery two years ago.  I probably would (and should) be depressed over chronic, everyday pain, except the grace of God as He taught me, early on, the lesson He blessed Paul with:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

No, unlike Paul, I didn’t recieve a special revelation, so there’s nothing for me to boast about there, but I can brag about the grace of God in my life.  He has shown me so much about myself and Himself through this that I would not trade the pain for.  I have prayed for it to go away, for sure, but He’s taught this pride-filled, stubborn guy much about His grace and the power that comes through it.  So, I will brag about that and pray that His power will rest on me, even if this surgery doesn’t accomplish what we hope for.  I am content.

Shoulder Surgery, Part Deux

I’m not sure what the Lord is teaching me, exactly, but after nearly two years since my initial shoulder surgery, I found out today that I have to go under the knife again…as soon as possible.

It turns out that one of the anchors that was put into my shoulder to secure the repair has somehow partially worked it’s way out, which means not only is the repair not holding, the anchor is causing damage to the surrounding tissue.  My doctor is concerned that, if not fixed soon, long-term damage could result.

So, here we go again.  I would appreciate prayers as I deal with increasing pain prior to surgery and, of course, the surgery, itself.  I’m not looking forward to the 12-week recovery (read: no golf or cycling), and the possibility of yet a third down the road, but God is good.  Through this entire leg of my journey, Paul’s response to his own suffering has been an encouragement to me:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

His strength is certainly sufficient!  Besides, where’s the adventure without some mountains to climb, right?  The tough times are when we learn the most, both about ourselves and the provision and faithfulness of God.

When Despair Creeps In

weaknessIf I am being completely honest and transparent with you, I’m struggling.  I’m wrestling with the mental affects of chronic pain.  Now, chronic pain can be labeled in different ways and is usually reserved for pain that has no real end in sight.  Hopefully, that is not the definition for me.

I have been dealing with some form of pain in my left shoulder for over a year.  It’s a very life-altering thing that has changed how I do life in significant ways.  I am hopeful that there is an end in sight as I am recovering from surgery performed one month ago tomorrow.  In light of that, I have hope for normalcy.

That being said, I’m still dealing with some significant pain.  I write that not for pity, but with a mind for those who are dealing with pain much more severe than mine and with little hope for relief in the near future.  I know something of the mental anguish that is involved with extensive physical pain.  I understand a little of the twinges of depression that try and creep in.  I feel the despair that lurks around the edge that maybe this will never go away. It’s very real.  It’s very challenging.

Any time we have challenges like this in our lives, it causes one or two things to happen.  One, we get angry.  We give into despair and begin a downward spiral of sadness, anger, rage and self-destruction.  In short, we run away from God.  We don’t understand why He would allow this in our lives.  We can’t get our minds around a loving God who would allow such suffering with no relief in a way no earthly father would, if he could stop it.  Yet, the suffering continues.

A second possible response sees things differently.  Though he hurts the same, he runs in a different direction.  He runs to the God of all comfort in the midst of pain.  He holds onto God’s promise that was made to Paul during his suffering: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Paul’s reply, appropriately, is, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

This second response is the one I am holding onto.  I understand that bad things that happen in my life are not for my punishment (that was taken care of by Christ on the cross).  Instead, as John Piper put it, they are for my purification.  I am made strong through suffering.  I am made more Christlike in tough times, because that is where I learn to rely on His strength rather than my own.  I feel weak.  I know God is strong.  That’s the glory of the Gospel…the glory of the cross.

I work my shoulder everyday.  I go to physical therapy faithfully.  I pray for healing regularly.  I believe it will come.  I am content, though, knowing that in my weakness, He WILL BE strong!

Hold on!

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