Monday, April 30, 2012
Suffering: Another Look
A week ago Sunday, I stumbled and tore my right hamstring. I was in a knee immobilizer and on crutches for most of the week.
Then, this past Friday night/Saturday morning at 3:00AM, I got out of bed to go and get a drink and bent to pick up my slipper as it was in a place where I couldn't reach it with my foot...and as I bent...there it was...that sickening pop and the sensation of my hip bone going in and out of the socket and finally remaining out. I sank to my bed with my hip at an odd angle, my knee pointing in...I screamed for Eric and then screamed the following sentence with tears and gut wrenching sobs: "God WHY???? WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME? WHY AGAIN, LORD, WHY???"
Even as I type those words now, tears are spilling down my cheeks. I've never uttered those questions. Through all the suffering and pain I've been through, I never once have wanted to shake God by the shoulders and demand an accounting for the way he is treating me. But that night, I did. That word never left my mind as the ambulance jostled me and I screamed in pain on the stretcher; through the swaying bumps in the road, also eliciting screams; while they cut off my clothes in the ER; while I laid for hours in unmitigated agony as they gave me tiny (for me) doses of pain meds that did little to relieve my pain; as the anesthesiologist and the orthopedic surgeon arrived because I was deemed to be high risk and thus they wanted the specialists there even though that meant extra hours of suffering for me....I cried and the "WHY??" irritated my brain with its need for an answer and with the mockery of the silence that followed.
I came home ...this time in a knee immobilizer on my left leg and a cane. This is my fourth dislocation in that left hip. After the third one they repeated the revision surgery...and that bought me a year; a year in which my guard relaxed and I thought I was safe. That illusion of safety was rudely shattered this Saturday. Online in discussing it in a forum I frequent, a person said to me that their mom suffered the same thing and THERE WAS NOTHING THAT COULD BE DONE FOR HER....THEY JUST HAD TO KEEP POPPING IT BACK INTO PLACE. As I read that, the horror of that froze me. You mean there may not be a solution? no cure??? I may have to go through this time and again?? And once more, that ugly unanswerable WHY????
Today a friend called me and told me about a program where they were discussing the topic of suffering....One of the guests on the John Ankerberg show was Joni Eareckson Tada, one of my heroes in suffering. She has written many books and as my pastor read her most recent one, he could only think (as he told me later) "this woman sounds just like Cynthia." Joni and I have both walked through deep waters of suffering and we've both arrived at similar conclusions.
But you know what? Those conclusions....while I still deeply espouse them...they don't always make it easy to accept it when you are smacked in the face with the insult of another injury or worse pain. Suffering is suffering. And well, It SUCKS. And yet, it is the road that God is calling me to walk. Tonight, I could barely get dinner. my feet and legs and hands were all hurting unbearably. And as I hobbled around...I didn't think of the deep theological things that can accompany suffering. I just prayed this breath prayer that is constantly on my lips. "Lord Jesus, please help me." I must say that, over and over and over a thousand times a day. I don't honestly know if it accomplishes much. But I"m still here. I've gotten through each agonizing second that brought me to this agonizing second. I'm still here. I'm still God's daughter. I'm still the bride of Christ. I'm still alive, still "fighting", still hurting, still alive.
Years ago, I had mental anguish. mental agony that led me to reject God and attempt over and over to take my own life. And God refused ---over and over ---to let me succeed. And I look at my life now...not having accomplished anything of great note. And only filled with 24 hours a day of pain...And I ask, "God, why? Why did you preserve me from death, only to lay me aside and to have such agony of pain constantly? Why? what could possibly have been your purpose?" And I think to myself,...maybe God says to the angels, gesturing to Pennsylvania, "Have you taken a look at my child, Cynthia? Years ago, with a little anguish, she wanted to die. Now she has LOTS of agony...and she's still plugging along. Still praising Me. Still mentoring her ladies. See how far she's come??" And it may be far, in a direction I didn't choose, don't want,and don't understand. ...But I know that somewhere in the depths of the mighty wisdom of God, there is a purpose. He hasn't revealed it to me yet. All I know is that it is my job to keep on plugging along with the strength he gives me for each second. (he doesn't dispense my strength in daily portions...he knows I'd use it all up in the first five minutes)....He doesn't mind if, in my pain , I cry out "Why God??" as long as I'm okay with not getting an answer to that just yet. As long as I trust him that there IS an answer and that one day, along with many other mysteries, it will be revealed to me.