Friday, August 7, 2009

An Update and Some Musings on Suffering

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. "

The last post I put up was three weeks ago, (go here to read the first post about my knee surgery) so I thought it might be time for an update on my recovery. I apologize for being so lax in getting back into blogging, but I have just not been motivated for various reasons.

Overall, my progress has been good. I did get back my range of motion and then some. (Thank you, Jehova Rophe!) I can now bend my knee 100 degrees which is pretty good from what I understand. That 100 degrees may be the full extent to which I can bend because scar tissue is preventing further progress. I'll find out more about that this Tuesday at therapy.

Also, I was cleared for the MRSA infection (how thankful I am for that!), though there still is one little red spot that concerns me. It hasn't gotten any larger and I am praying that it will soon disappear altogether. The doc gave me the ok to start my physical therapy again, but as soon as I used the CPM machine (continuous passive motion machine), I put my hip out and had to stop exercising for another four days. However, I 'm now back at it again.

Throughout this ordeal, the Lord has seen fit to continue to place many physical trials before me. Total knee replacement surgery, in and of itself, makes for a very challenging recovery, let alone all the extra bumps in the road that I am experiencing. I am still struggling with the thrush and fungal infection in my stomach. That should begin to improve now that I am off of the antibiotic, which by the way was Bactrim, a medication that I am allergic to and was told that I had to take it regardless of my allergy.

But because I am allergic to Bactrim, it has caused a new problem. Namely, I have developed a stomach ulcer as a result of having taken two rounds of it. So I've been prescribed yet another medication to treat the new problem. And because of the intense pain that the ulcer has caused, I am again taking more of the Percocet (pain medication). Eventually, the pain will subside as I heal and, God willing, I will try again to get off of that narcotic.

Sometimes it seems that there will be no end to this. At times I become very disheartened. "Where are you God?", I have asked on many days. I know what it means not to be able to pray as Romans 8:26 describes, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words..." How thankful I am for this sweet promise. The Spirit of God is praying for me.

The other day I picked my Bible and looked at this verse in Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job 13:15) In the margin I had written, "Would I be able to say this, Lord, under great trial? Strengthen me in my puny struggles to embrace You, O God, as my refuge and strength." I just cried when I read that, knowing that I had already, by God's sufficient grace, committed myself in such a way in the midst of my little trial.

And as I sat and tried to read on in the book of Job, I realized that I couldn't even get past that one verse. I thought, "Job could not have written this book while he was suffering so greatly because I cannot even read it in my meager sufferings." It gave me a new perspective on those who suffer chronically and on the sufferings of Christ as he drank in the bitter cup of the Cross. As a result, God has laid on me a new burden to pray for those I know of that suffer chronic physical disabilities and pain. And it has also impressed upon me afresh what my salvation cost the Lord Jesus Christ - so great a salvation.

"Lehman Strauss, in his book, Waiting on the Lord, said concerning his most severe trial, "This unexpected trial has changed my well-laid plans, but I know that God's plans are far better than mine." That is what I am learning to say. Though I had not planned for such a lengthy recovery, God planned differently. Though I planned to be up and back into my daily routine by now, God planned differently.

His plan is best and by His grace I will give Him thanks for it. He is producing endurance in me, conforming me to the character of Christ, teaching me to have a heart of thanksgiving, and impressing upon me the importance of not neglecting so a great salvation. I would never have planned for those things, but those are the things of that are of the greatest importance to God - eternal things. My plans were only temporal.

With all of this in mind, it has been my greatest yearning from the very beginning to honor and glorify the Lord throughout this trial. I simply do not want to waste this pain. I want to gain the utmost glory for my Sovereign Lord and the highest good for the body of Christ (including myself) through this valley. Following are some verses that have helped me stay focused in and through this trial - to bring me back from the shadows of despair into the light of His glorious presence. May God use this, His word, to cheer you also in the valley that you face:

Psalm 31:19-20 - "Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence..." (I love this reality. My Savior has done this for me many times during this trial.)

Isaiah 41:10 - "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Psalm 25:15 - "My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare." (The snare for me isn't the pain and setbacks, but rather, how quickly my heart can resort to despair in the midst of those setbacks.)

Psalm 27:13-14 - "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!"

Isaiah 40:29-31 - "He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."

Psalm 73:25, 26, 28 - "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever...for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works."

Deuteronomy 31:8 -
"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."

Psalm 50:14-15 - "Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." (God gave me this text the day before my surgery and it has continued to encourage me and remind me that my part in all of this is to have a thankful heart and fulfill my vows to trust Him.)

Matthew 11:28-30 - "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Such a precious promise!)

Isaiah 45:2-3 - "I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name." (And He has done just that! Go here to read how sweetly God has blessed me in this regard.)
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  1. Thank you for sharing your trial with us Sharon. How I am encouraged to hear you giving glory to God in the midst of it! We younger Christian women have so much to learn from you as you follow Christ's example. What a great selection of Scriptures as well! In particular Is 41:10 is a verse to which I have clung. I praise God for His goodness and look forward to rejoicing with you when this is all behind you!
    You are in my prayers,

  2. Hey Sharon,

    Just wanted to let you know that I think of you and hope you're doing better! We've lifted you up in growth group and I continue to pray for God to give you more strength. I just read your blog and it's amazing what God has allowed you to go through and yet you see His glory in the midst of it! Love you sister and thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts and trials in your life.

    For the King,