How do we accept the hard things in life – the things that hurt and overwhelm, the things we don’t want, wouldn’t choose, and can’t imagine living with or through for even a single day? How do we accept the diagnosis of cancer, the death of a spouse, caring for a child through multiple, major surgeries, the struggle to find a job in a market with precious few openings, a wife walking away from decades of marriage, a stillborn baby?
I honestly don’t know, and yet in some ways, I do. Nearly five years ago, I began a journey I didn’t choose, didn’t like, didn’t understand, and couldn’t wait to complete – a journey initially marked by disbelief and the desperate search for a cure. I’d been in an accident and the first physician to examine me said, “You might have to live with this pain for the rest of your life,” words I flatly refused to believe.
Over the next two years, I was evaluated by orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical medicine doctors, pain medicine doctors, physical, occupational and massage therapists, a chiropractor, and others whose specialties I can’t even remember. I’ve had second and third and fourth opinions, and all concluded the one thing I didn’t want to hear. My injury is permanent, and so is the pain.
Acceptance is hard, and it’s happening slowly, yet each time I open my heart and accept what God is allowing, I learn to trust Him more. Each time I step back and stop fighting the pain, fighting God, fighting those offering their help, I understand community and what it means to be the Body of Christ more deeply. Each time I seek God’s perspective and will for me in all of this, I glimpse the beautiful things He’s doing in my life, my family’s lives, my friends’ and neighbors’ lives, and sometimes even in the lives of people I don’t know and have never met because of it. And it’s humbling and totally amazing!
Over the past few months, the pain has increased, and I’ve sensed God asking me to accept it anew. It’s not easy. I’ve been here before. I know there is joy in acceptance, peace in trusting implicitly. I’ve experienced it. So why the hesitation?
As I pray, I begin to understand. I’ve been waiting – waiting to feel better, waiting for the pain to abate, waiting to resume “normal” life – waiting while God’s exquisite gift of time settles at my feet like dust, untouched and unwanted. Ouch! Oh, Father, forgive me! Fear crept in with resignation and wound its roots around my soul, and I never even noticed.
In the stillness of the moment I open my hands, “Yes, Lord, I accept this.” Immediately, the beautiful words of Zephaniah 3:17 dance through my soul: “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” It is a promise full of hope and peace and joy – His joy in me, complete – and it is sufficient for today.