Several months ago, after an unwelcome emergency hospital stay, I was advised to have a major surgical procedure. Needless to say this was not a concept that I embraced with joy; but finally a wise and compassionate doctor said to me, “Barbara, you’re a walking time bomb—you really don’t have a choice.” So I reluctantly agreed and scheduled a date for surgery, but once the decision was made I fumed and complained to God almost nonstop. Then I began to wonder how Jesus could have handled the knowledge of what lay ahead for Him at the cross, even as He ministered to others without complaint. How did He keep from getting so depressed about His future that He couldn’t function or, at the very least, go around with a grumpy why-me attitude? Yes, I knew He spent many hours alone in prayer, as evidenced repeatedly in scripture, but there seemed to be something I was missing because no matter how much I prayed I didn’t seem to be finding a lot of comfort.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:46
Finally one day I “happened” across Hebrews 12:1-2, a scripture I’ve studied more times than I can count:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
But now the phrase, “Jesus…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” jumped out at me as never before. Jesus was focused on the joy that was ahead, not the agony. So I determined that if Jesus is really my example and if my life is really about being conformed to His image, then I’d better just get over it and start focusing on:
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
Amazingly I immediately lost the sense of dread and, while I still didn’t like the idea of surgery, I was able to look beyond it.
So now I’m finally about two weeks post-op, yet all around it seems dark and stormy again. My recovery continues to be difficult and I’m certainly not where I’d hoped to be by now, so here I am “preaching to the choir;” reminding myself once again that I can still trust God, and I’m pressing into Him to try and figure out what it is I’m supposed to be learning now. But my experience is nothing new. Over and over the psalmists cried out in their distress to God, and over and over they proclaimed His faithfulness in every situation. And so once again I too stand in faith on the Word of God.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:5-7a
Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. Psalm 112:3-5