Saturday, December 13, 2008

All Things?

The second half of this week has been rather difficult. I can see how the Lord has been testing me. I think it started with a short conversation I had with a fellow teacher. In the midst of our conversation, he said, "And you know my pastor says that God can make something good out of almost anything." I responded that God can make something good out of anything, not almost anything." I had in mind Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (emphasis mine). That was on Tuesday afternoon.

That night, I went with my three oldest kids to get our Christmas tree. I had my cell phone in my sweatshirt pocket. When we got the tree set up in our house, I looked for my phone but couldn't find it. I called my phone from Amy's phone thinking that I would hear it ring somewhere around the house. Nothing. I tried calling again. This time a man answered the phone! "Hello," the voice said, "I don't know if you own this phone, but I'm going to turn it into Home Depot customer service."

I went back to the store to pick up the phone, and discovered that it was bent and the antenna had been broken off. It must have been run over in the parking lot. Well, at least I found it and it still worked, I thought. The next day, it didn't work. Not a big deal, I could get another phone.

Later that day, Wednesday, I picked up a slight cough. By Thursday morning, I had a full cold and called in sick to work. Again, not a big deal. I went to my school briefly to prepare something for the substitute teacher, and came home to rest. Usually, it's hard for me to rest, but I took great pains to really rest so that I would be ready to go back to school on Friday.

Thursday evening, I was feeling much better and was confident I would be back the next day. But there was an interruption to my plans. After dinner, I was helping to clear the table. I picked up a pot of soup and must have lifted it incorrectly. As I carried it to the counter, I could feel my lower back begin to tighten. Immediately a sharp pain shot through my back. I was able to get the pot safely to the counter, but I quickly doubled over and fell to the floor in severe pain. I had injured my back in the past, so I knew that it had to be a sciatic nerve problem.

If you've never injured your lower back, be grateful. When it hits you, it's very difficult to find a position that does not hurt. I tried to pick myself up, but everything I tried caused immense pain. I didn't ask for help right away; all the while, I was telling myself that I could get up on my own. I tried different maneuvers to get up, but excruciating pain hit me and I would cry out. Eventually, I crawled over to a desk and pulled myself up. Amy helped me to our room, and I lay down on the bed.

Laying in bed, I could not get comfortable. I would have tossed and turned in bed, but moving was too painful. On top of that, Amy and I had an argument adding to the emotional and physical pain I was experiencing. I just need to call a friend to pray for me, I thought. But then I remembered that my phone was broken, and I couldn't retrieve anyone's contact information! Dark thoughts plagued me: Would I walk again? Would I be able to pick up my children? Would I be able to play with them like I used to? Was this a long-term injury such that I couldn't go back to work? How would I support my family? Nagging questions and fears consumed me. Then came the accusing thoughts: You should be stronger than that! Where's your faith? Other people have it worse than you. If you're this emotionally weak, how could you handle a real crisis? It all seemed like spiritual attack. (The enemy loves to kick us when we're down.) I felt very alone. "God, where are You? Why aren't You rescuing me? Jesus, You have to help me. I can't take this!"

In the midst of my crying out, I remembered Romans 8:28. All things? Do I really believe that now? Or is that simply a nice platitude that works well when life is rosy? Nothing physically or emotionally changed that night. The circumstances were the same; but I chose to believe Romans 8:28. I chose to trust God. Thursday night I had to apply what I (perhaps carelessly?) proclaimed to be true Tuesday afternoon.

I stayed home Friday, but I felt a little better. Today, I felt better still and was able to attend a teacher training in the morning. I don't know how I would do in a more difficult situation. I just thank God for His grace on this occasion, and pray for the grace to endure whatever else comes.


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