After going through extensive and expensive tests for my unintentional wrist injury, I was sent to physical therapy (PT). I had never been sent to PT before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I know several people that have gone through it, and the glimpses of the room in which this magical stuff happened made me think it was like going to the weight room at the gym.
I had to go in for an evaluation, and I was surprised by what was done to my wrist. This wrist had been strapped to some kind of device to keep it still for about two months, and all of a sudden, the therapist wanted me to bend my wrist as far as it would go. She wanted me to exert force with it. She wanted me to stretch it. And moving it HURT. The therapist asked me if I’d been doing any stretching since I’d injured it. My response? No. I hadn’t been using it. Using it hurt. Stretching it hurt. So I didn’t stretch it.
And then all of a sudden, I had to use it again.
I have been going to PT for about a month now, and everything they’ve made me do has hurt. They started my therapy by making me stretch my wrist in all the directions it could possibly go at least three times a day. At first, it hurt really bad, and but after a while, it didn’t hurt so much. Then they started making my move my wrist. Wiggle to the left, wiggle to the right. Wiggle up, wiggle down. (Sounds like a board book, doesn’t it? Or a pop song.) That hurt too. And after it stopped hurting they made me add weight. First, only one pound. Then three. Now I’m lifting four pounds. (My living room floor looks like my big weights had babies.)
They also made me stop wearing my brace. It had been important for my healing process at first, but the more I let myself use it, the more my muscles would have wasted away. My muscles have to practice being used again.
I don’t like pain. And I don’t think that very many people do. But sometimes, pain is required for healing. I need to be able to use my wrist in my work, and in my personal life. Have you ever tried to lift a small human for a hug with a hurt wrist? It doesn’t work very well. Have you ever tried to hold hands with your husband-man (or whomever you hold hands with) when it hurts to bend your wrist? I don’t suggest it.
Usually, we don’t get to heal all at once. It takes a long time. It’s hard work. I’ve had to make myself do something that wasn’t fun, and that didn’t feel good, three times a day to try and help my wrist heal.
That’s usually how God deals with my gross spots too. Overcoming the stress issue that I’ve been dealing with
for the past six months for my entire life? That takes work. That doesn’t happen all at once. That takes reading my Bible every day, and giving every day to God. And sometimes, more often than I’d like, I do a really bad job at letting Him heal me.
Following God is often very, very painful. And it’s very often no fun. But God didn’t promise us fun. When He sent His son to live on the Earth, His son was poor, persecuted, misunderstood, and died (a horrific death) in His early thirties. He didn’t own a house and He didn’t have babies. I have a theory (based on no scientific fact) that Jesus joked around with the disciples. They were men. Don’t you think they tooted on one another sometimes? Don’t you think someone short sheeted Jesus’ bed a time or two? I think so. So, I think His life had some fun in it. But He also had a great deal of pain. And I don’t deserve anything better than God’s Son. None of us do.
So, what do we do with our pain? What did the man after God’s own heart do? He prayed and wrote and was honest with God about his pain, and we get the privilege of reading through some of his prayers in Psalms. One of my favorites that I read as part of the ESV Study Bible year long reading plan that I’m going through is Psalms 31:
1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!
I like how it ends. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”
So, while you’re going through the pain of healing, be strong. Be encouraged, my friends.