I mentioned a few months ago about pain I've been having in my neck since a car accident last July. It's gotten slowly and progressively worse over the past year. It's something like ligament damage, over-extending vertebrae, degenerating spinal curve, etc. I've never really had any kind of on-going medical condition, and the whole thing really has been, well, a pain in the neck.
But I have learned a few things already.
Just a little thought: we all know good posture is so important. Haven't our parents told us to sit up straight our entire lives? Maybe you've also heard the term "heart posture" toward God, referring to the way we mentally and emotionally approach and open ourselves to God. What if that posture were just as important as the physical? Slouching physically usually causes long-term damage or pain in the neck or back. Maybe being apathetic on our heart posture is what causes us some emotional and spiritual struggles too. I'll have to think about that
parallel a little more...
He Can Heal.
I've always been a huge skeptic on praying for healing. It made me uncomfortable because I never thought God would actually answer. I thought people who called on God to heal could get weird really quickly. Sure, I heard stories from third world countries and foreign missionaries that excited me, but I didn't believe it really happened here, or at least not through ordinary people I know. And while I'm still wrestling through some of those questions, twice now God has moved in me despite my doubts. Twice now, dear friends have earnestly and directly prayed for God to heal my neck. The first time, the pain disappeared immediately, and only gradually returned over the next couple of days. The second time, my neck was vibrating, twitching, and pulsing the entire time they were praying, even though the pain wasn't much changed afterward. Hearing these stories from someone else, I would be super skeptical, and that's okay if that's you. But now that it has happened to me, I can't ignore it anymore. It's comforting for me to know that God absolutely can intervene, that He absolutely is listening. That leads me to another element I've learned.
Now that I know He can heal, why doesn't He? I don't know. But I do know that there are reasons I have already seen that give me a small glimpse of what He may be up to. As one small example, I went up for prayer at church one week, and had the opportunity to pray with another girl who I never would have met otherwise. I am grateful for that. And in combination with the above point, I am confident in His love and power. I don't have to worry whether He can heal, I know He can. I don't have to worry whether He cares enough, I know the gospel. So if I know He can heal, and I know He loves me, then the only logical conclusion is that He has timing beyond my knowledge. I trust that.
Physically and emotionally/spiritually, I've learned more about what it means to comfort. Because I have neck pain from whiplash and muscle tension, I am far more aware of what those with neck pain deal with physically. In China, the teacher who sat as my desk mate told me one day that she was dealing with neck pain too. I reached over and rubbed her neck the way that I needed on mine. She couldn't stop exclaiming about how I kept finding and massaging exactly the spots she needed. Similarly, I have an entirely different level of compassion and understanding for people who deal with chronic pain. I know that my pain is still nothing like what some people deal with, but I've learned what it's like to live every day knowing that something isn't right inside. Perhaps that's a little bit how it feels before a person knows God: they have an ache, but they don't know it's something that can be healed. We know the Healer.
This Wednesday, I'm having a procedure done on my neck to try and heal whatever therapy and exercises haven't been able to mend. The catch: it's an injection into my neck. If you know me, you know that the only fear that tops spiders on my list is needles. Aaaahhck. From the moment my chiropractor explained the procedure to me, I had to tell myself to breathe, relax, take this one step at a time. After a day or two, I realized that I was actually experiencing emotional stress and anxiety that almost never crosses my path. I started asking for advice and prayer from friends. I want to be done with this not-so-rational (but not totally irrational!) fear. When my fear keeps my mind from trusting God, that's when I know it's time to obey that oft repeated command: Do not fear. I guess this really is a lesson I'm in the middle of learning, waiting for God to teach me. My part is to surrender the need to control, to be willing and waiting for the change to come. I'd appreciate your prayers for this Wednesday as well!
So all in all, this whole experience has been a pain in the neck. But perhaps that little phrase has a whole different meaning.