I threw my back out last week, resulting in pain and loss of function for a few days. Due to some parallel circumstances, I found myself thinking about the post below, which I wrote about 8 years ago after having ankle surgery. Its relevance is perennial; I find I need to meditate on it again so I thought I’d also post it.
I recently had ankle surgery. Almost two weeks later I still can’t walk on that leg. I am in pain all day. Evenings and nights (OK, and mornings) are worst. My wife does everything to care for the house, our kids, and me. Sometimes, for long stretches, I can’t do anything but groan and gasp. This makes it almost impossible to read, write, pray, or even think. I just lay there as my foot and ankle are stabbed by spectral needles.
The other night, I really wanted to work on some writing. My plan was to push through the pain and write what I could. As I was contemplating this, the Lord said, “You don’t need to write.” As usual, the Lord said way more than the words reflect. His words are like something spoken in an amphitheater—the initial sound grows in volume and clarity as it echoes and reverberates.
This is the message that grew in my heart from those few words: “You don’t need to write. You don’t need to do anything. You just need to be what I want.” I saw in my mind’s eye all the preaching, praying, serving, and miracles Jesus did. Yet immeasurably more happened when Jesus was too weak to carry His cross; when agony hewed His sentences to fragments; when His prayers were gasped; when He was denied the miracles so many others received. More happened in His death than in His entire life on earth.
In my small way, God has made me weak. He has limited me through pain and loss of function. But He says more is happening through that than all I could write in blogs or books; than all the mighty prayers I could utter; than the service I could render to those around me. Being what He wants is more than doing what seems productive or necessary to me. This is the real power of Christ (2 Cor. 12:9). For God’s weakness is stronger than my strength (1 Cor. 1:25).
P.S. Just so no one mistakes me for a self-flagellating ascetic: I am working with my doctor to better manage my pain. God doesn’t want us to seek suffering unnecessarily. He just wants us to recognize that it is more valuable than our health when in His hands 🙂