Last year I suffered an extremely painful back injury. Not even knowing what exactly happened, I woke up one day in intense and overwhelming pain. This was the worst physical pain I had ever felt in my entire life. No meds even touched this torment. I wailed and sobbed as the insurance company denied much needed tests and procedures and I felt like no one could understand the pain I was feeling. After several weeks of agony there was one nerve pain medication that was finally able to take the edge off of some of the pain. Little did I know that it would be 9 months of misery, physical therapy, and spinal injections until I would get the necessary surgery and begin the slow recovery process.
This experience was isolating because I never felt up to doing any of my normal activities and, being a social person, it affected most aspects of my life. I started to become depressed, not seeing an end in sight. Spending most of my days laid out face-down over the top of an ottoman or hunched over a walker or cane, my hair started falling out and being in tears was the new norm. One morning while I was trying to stretch and spend time in Christian meditation, the Abide app focused on 1 Peter 5:10.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
I found myself rereading this verse often. “The God of all grace” and “after you have suffered a little while” made me realize that this pain is temporary. God is still in control and will use this experience for good, whether I see it in this lifetime or not. I just needed to trust in His mercy and find strength in his promise to “restore” me and make me “strong, firm, and steadfast.” During this time, I spotted this picture on social media and ended up saving it to my phone. I found out this beautiful painting was done by Yongsung Kim and is called “The Hand of God.” It truly depicts my emotions during this time as I reached for and clung to Jesus’ hand, trusting that He would restore and provide me with strength and healing as I struggled in my weakness. Keeping in mind the need to surrender to HIS will and timing.
At times it felt that grace and relief would never come, but as I continue to recover I can see clearly that I don’t have to wait until I get to heaven to experience God’s grace, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. As I come to God to confess my sins, that renewing and restoring takes place so that I can face each day with His unwavering, dedicated, and steady strength. That act of repentance is often hard for me because of the shame I feel from sin. The effect is that I avoid talking with God. Once I do though, I experience his forgiveness and grace and wonder why I was ever dragging my feet in the first place.
Back during those painful days, I began to dig a little deeper and read through the chapter in 1 Peter in its entirety over and over. I realized what a wealth of knowledge God was passing on to me in this short chapter. The phrases “submit yourself to your elders” and “know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” are just a couple verses of the many that stood out to me. What I have been discovering is that it is so important to surround myself with people of peace that God has provided in my life. Relying on these people for support throughout my Christian journey is essential because they are the ones who fight for me and with me as our enemy prowls around us “like a roaring lion.” For example, after my surgery in September my faithful friend Debbie sent this text to me:
“I have been praying for you a lot. I hope you’re feeling better each day and hopefully this down-time is allowing you the opportunity to spend extra time with God and draw closer to him. Hugs and prayers! “
After reading her nice text, it really got me thinking. How have I truly been spending my time after surgery?? Sleeping, of course, but also watching Netflix series, scrolling through Facebook, getting lost in fiction books, and wallowing in my pain. Yikes! It was eye-opening and that simple text was just the kick in the pants I needed (Thanks Debbie!:)) For the remainder of my time off work, I spent a portion of each day in prayer and diving into God’s word. I can’t promise I gave up Netflix and other books completely (Ha!), but I no longer took the time the Lord provided for granted.
How important it is for us Christian women to band together as we go through similar struggles!! We don’t have to feel isolated and lost when there are God-focused people who can mentor us and help us to grow in our faith. Thank you, Lord God, for your love, grace, restoration, and the gift of Christian friendships! Sometimes all we have to do is accept that love, reach out, or be that light in someone else’s life. Giving and receiving Jesus’ love is what it’s all about.