Thursday, May 31, 2012

"God, you don't have to talk so loud."

The author and theologian C.S. Lewis once said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."  You can interpret that statement as you will and judge Lewis as you desire but when one lives with pain for a longer than usual time, one begins to think about what it is that you should be learning from the experience.

I had a stupid accident that was of my own doing in early April.  It was one of those things that forgetful or non-observant or clumsy people do, running into something that I should have seen but did not.  It stunned my body and wrecked my left leg and since that moment I  have not been totally free from pain.  I have been taking all of the over the counter pain medicine that is allowed by doctors since then and only that helps to alleviate the pain somewhat.  I have seen an orthopedic doctor who assured me that I did not break anything and who gave me a shot in the knee of a steroidal medicine that had little effect and have been taking physical therapy twice a week for the last month.  That has given me some relief but there are days, such as this one, when I woke up with pain in my leg and hip and it has not subsided.  It is not as noticeable when I am sitting down but when I begin to walk around the pain shouts at me and demands that I stop it.

I have now seen an assistant to a neurologist with hopes of seeing the actual doctor once I have the required MRI and hope that the result will be some form of treatment that will cure this issue and allow me to return to the once active lifestyle that I enjoyed.  I miss my 2 mile daily walks around town.  I miss riding my bicycle now and then.  I miss being able to get out and enjoy the countryside when we have a time away.  I want all that back and more.

So, what is God shouting at me through this experience?  Perhaps I have obtained just a bit of added compassion and understanding of what others experience who have lived with pain much longer than I have.  Some persons I know who have long term disease live with constant pain.  Some have had this as their plight for years now.  The pain I have experienced in minuscule in comparison to what they suffer daily.  Maybe this has taught me a bit of patience too.  I wanted this to be over quickly.  A week or two of dragging my leg around, taking vast quantities of medicine, and rubbing myself with various lotions was enough for me.  I wanted it over then so I could go on with life but that was not the case for me.  It has been nearly two months now since the accident and I have had to learn to be patient and wait for the answer to come eventually.  I have had to be satisfied with the unknown and think that maybe someday it will be okay.

I think I have also learned that faith in God does not mean that God is going to answer our prayers as we request or when we request it.  I grew up in a faith tradition that quoted the Bible and applied its verses personally to the lives of its adherents.  "Ask anything in my name and it shall be done" was said many times in worship as people would be prayed for.  They believed in instant healings and in instant miracles.  After all, if Jesus could work wonders, "greater works would follow those who believe."  Those ancient words are very true but I think I have learned from this experience that our interpretation of them may not be what was intended originally and the words themselves may hold greater meaning than we can ever imagine in our English translation of the Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic.  The asking part may be the same but the receiving part from our prayers may mean something entirely different than we imagine with our 21st century minds.

God does answer prayer.  The answer we receive may not be the one we seek, however.  We cannot direct God how to answer prayers.  We can only pray for God's will to be done for us even as it is done in Heaven.  "All things work together for good..." was the beginning of the verse that people would quote as they ruminated over what they considered to be unanswered prayers.  They rarely added the rest of the verse that says, "...for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28)  To me this means, that God has an overarching plan for our lives, from the time we are born until we go on to meet God, and everything that happens in life is for our good.  It does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good but it means that we will live and learn and grow through all of our life's experiences and the end result will be a good one for us as we end our earthly lives.

So, God can whisper to me again once I am finished with this learning experience.  I may be a little bit more deaf than I was when I was in my 20s but I still hear fairly well.  God can whisper in that still small voice and I will try to be ready to listen.  I dont need nearly as many shouts as I seem to be getting lately in order to know that God loves me and wants the best for me.

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