Chris Tomlin O Come all Ye Faithful

Thursday, December 17, 2015

When Nights are Long

Last night was a terrible night.  Various disturbances to my sleep occurred at all  hours and I was not able to continue in sleep once I'd been wakened.  But I saw this morning that I had forgotten to take my PM medicines last evening...,and this partly explains my wakefulness.
I'm in the process of reading Joni Earickson Tada's book called "A Time of Healing" and it chronicles her journey of pain in these later years of her life.  Joni, in case you are from another planet and have never heard her story, was in a diving accident as a teen and as a result was rendered paralyzed in all four limbs.  She has lived a courageous life and has greatly impacted the lives of millions of disabled people the whole globe over.  She brings wheelchairs to the marginalized cripples in other parts of the world, granting them a new freedom and level of ability.  And in the USA, Joni hosts retreats for the disabled and their families.  There are volunteers to take care of the needs of the disabled freeing up the family members to restful relaxation and even to some pampering.  I have never been on a retreat myself but I have good friends who attend each year and have heard marvelous things about this service to those whose lives must revolve around pain, paralysis, amputations, Down's Syndrome, autism--you name it.
Anyway I'm reading ber book for the second time. In it she confesses to times of despair and really hating this pain that has plagued her for the last few years.  I don't know if my pain is less or worse than hers is, but her response to it is much like my own.  And the fact that she has times of discouragement and dread for the pain held by the future...is much like myself.    Nights like last night when the bed that comforts me during the day is a medieval rack torture chamber. I cannot move around a lot in bed.  Weakness, spinal fusions, and pain limit my mobility....so there I am supine: a sitting duck for the inevitable locomotive to find me, Penelope Pitstop style, tied to the tracks without a handsome hero like Duddly Do-Right to rescue me.  Most of the time once the locomotive has flattened me, I will crawl out of bed and make my way to my recliner.  Here is where I have a freedom that Joni does not share.  She cannot get out of bed seeking other positions for relief..Instead she has to wait until her husband comes and turns her.  When I have an MRI and must remain completely motionless for upwards of an hour, I get some taste of the hell Joni faces at night.  Pain has a heyday and I am captive to its lack of mercy.

Sometimes I think,'God, what are you doing? What purpose does this serve?' Once during one of the 6 occasions where I had hip dislocations when pain far worse than childbirth renders me groaning, yelling and crying until the hours pass when I laid in the hospital ER, waiting for the orthopedic surgeon to arrive, then anesthesiologist and for the pain meds to help---but they never do.  On the last occasion after two surgeries trying to repair the problem, I was sobbing and the cry  that never left my  lips was "Jesus, where are you ? Help me Jesus!"  and  you know, after crying that for a number of hours, God sent me his answer. "His bones were all out of joint" - a passage in Psalm 22 foretelling the horrors Jesus would face on the cross.  That verse send me for a loop. JESUS KNOWS WHAT I  FEEL LIKE. In fact, he had it worse because ALL Of his limbs were out of joint.  At that moment I stopped asking Jesus where he was because I KNEW, he was right there beside me, going through that torturous event.  The cry then that my tearful voice kept repeating was ironically -inexplicably-- "Thank  you Jesus."  Thank you for going through this agony to spare me from the tortures of hell where suffering is even greater.

In long nights like last night, I seek solace---and understanding, in the Scriptures.  Today I was reading Luke 4 relating Jesus' 40 days in the desert.  And I found out that Satan was harassing him for the entire 40 days.  His temptations recorded in the Scripture is merely our glimpse in to a long span of testing.  I believe that Satan showed Jesus what suffering he was to undergo...and tried to maneuver him into action that that would circumvent the cross..  But Jesus would not waiver...He was to walk the path that God laid out for him.  What would I do? What would I trade for my current pain to be alleviated?  Would I take the easy way out?  or would I hold fast to my faith in the ultimate salvation from suffering in God's good time? 

Nights are long.  But there is company here. I am not alone in this pain...even if I am the only person here. "Jesus, where are you?"

"I'm right here. I know your pain. I have purposes for it. Just trust me in this."
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