BY SEAN TERRY | MAY 24, 2021
“Three months!?” I thought to myself as the trauma doctor finished showing me my x-ray on his phone and gave me the timeline for my recovery. My two fractured vertebrae looked like crumbled cookies compared to all the other healthy bones. “Okay, doc. Fine. I get it. I’ve never broken a bone before, but I do know that they take a while to heal,” I thought. But 90 days seemed like a really long time to be unable to lift anything, run, or jump! Also, I would be required to wear a back brace almost constantly and walk around with a walker.
When Batman broke his back in the comic books it was cool, but this just feels weird. I’m 30 years old, not 90 (no offense to our beloved nonagenarians). Luckily for me, Pastor Dan Casey, was with me at the hospital as I was led by a physical therapist to take my first steps down the hallway after my injury. In classic Pastor Dan fashion, he treated me like a superhero as I performed the impressive achievement of not falling over. “Wow! You’re doing great, Seaner!” he said. Thanks, Pastor Dan. I’m sure there is a special medal out there for crossing 12 feet of linoleum tile.
In his defense, I should have been grateful to be walking at all. But healing is a humbling process. I don’t like being in pain. I don’t like being weak. Does anyone? But maybe the hardest part of healing is just how long of a process it can be. Wearing a back brace daily for months was not something I ever anticipated happening to me. Not the kind of thing one usually puts on their dream board. But here I was strapping this thing tightly across my stomach (and I do mean tightly) every time I had to move more than a few feet anywhere. If I were to take another fall without it, or spend too much time leaning or slouching without it keeping my back straight, that could lead to another injury, or worse, long term issues that were a lot harder to fix.
After the first month of recovery I had another appointment with the trauma doctor. He informed me that I was cleared to go without my walker (yay), but he wanted me to use the back brace for at least another month (boo). “Another month!?” I thought to myself as he hurried to meet with more of his patients. What this doctor failed to understand is that I knew too much; cursed with knowledge. I knew Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our Healer, and He could instantly fix my back! So I bet this “recovery timeline” is about to get interrupted real quick when God comes in and shortcuts me to the end.
Well, God wasn’t going to do that. And me thinking He could help me cheat the process was an immature assumption. Make no mistake. God is well able to deliver us with one word. He is a healer and a miracle-worker. Jesus showed us this when he healed all who came to him. There is no injury, sickness, or disease that Jesus cannot “sozo” (Greek for saved, healed, made whole).
I don’t remember exactly when, but sometime shortly after my injury I heard the statement, “Do you want to get better or do you want to be changed?” What a curious question. Is the answer to our problem a magic wand, or is it a journey? Miracles are free, but maturity is expensive. God loves us a lot. But love doesn’t always look like giving us everything we want right away. Anyone that meets a toddler already has realized this.
1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
God’s love for us is perfect, though. And He loves us too much to let everything be easy. His perfect love leaves room for us to do some growing up. And all of us have a lot of growing up to do. To become mature in God is to become more like Him. We don’t just talk about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 because they are some nice virtues to practice. They are the very nature of God. One of them is patience. But I like the translation found in the King James Version best.
Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Patience is far more than just waiting without a bad attitude. It is the ability to suffer for a long time for the right reason. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, once wrote “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
So the next time you find yourself waiting a long time for an answer from God, or if you are in the middle of a long lasting trial, be encouraged that getting you away from your problem isn’t the most important goal to the Lord. Rather, He wants to perfect you into the true son or daughter you are called to be. Instead of complaining, “Ow this hurts!” challenge yourself to remember, “This is making me like Christ.” So brace yourself, because that kind of work will take a long time but also last a lifetime.
Proverbs 3:6-8 ESV
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.