Imagine that you bumped your 'funny-bone' and felt that hot, vibrating, tingle all the way up and down your arm. Then imagine that you did this back in 2002, only it was in your leg, and there's nothing funny about it, since that dang 'funny-bone' pain hasn't stopped since. I mean, not for a single solitary instant stopped completely. You go to doctors (10 of them) of different specialties (at least 4 of them )in three different cities, have been poked prodded and had every kind of test ever created in the medical field, except perhaps a pregnancy test and prostate exam, and still that fiery pain continues. Sitting exacerbates it, especially with the leg bent and foot on the ground, like in a car or airplane. But so does standing on it or laying on it or walking on it or...well, so does everything.
And the praying over it. Oh my God (literally!), the praying. The laying on of hands and anointing with oil. The fasting and praying and every which way and praying. And still twenty-four hours of every day, seven days of every week, fifty-two days of every year for the last eight years that crazy-bone pain that starts at my hip and ends at the bottom of my toes has been the closest companion in my life. The reducing companion in my life, I have to admit. The first year I spent on the couch with my leg propped on a pillow, the pain was so distracting for me. But finally I stood up. Not because it had left, not because the medication had helped so much, but because life looked long and terrible and downright empty if I didn't get ever off the couch again. Nevertheless, my life is smaller than it used to be. I still spend a whole lot of time on the couch. Er, the right side of the couch so that I can swing my left leg up beside me and give it something of a rest.
Sometimes it's discouraging. OK, that's an understatement. I mean, sometimes I just try to imagine what it would feel like not to have it. To have a pain-free body. Last night in my nightly ritual of trying to get comfortable--my instinct would be to sleep on my left side if that wasn't the side crippled with pain--I was thinking with God about all this, and realized that having done all the medical things I've done, seen all the doctors, tried all the kinds of procedures I've tried, some so far out of my prior comfort zone I'd never have imagined trying them, and taken all the medications I've taken, I can rationally conclude there will not be a medical 'cure' for this pain. Likewise, having prayed as long and earnestly as I have, with the prayers of others I trust joining mine, I can faithfully conclude that God does not intend healing from it either. At least not now.
So what am I to conclude? I know that He does intend good for me. And I know that He desires everything that happens in my life to participate in my becoming more like Him. Therefore, I have to believe that He means this continuing pain to be used for His purposes. He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. By whatever means He sees fit. For me, it means this pain. I'd say that someday I'll ask Him why, but I actually believe that 'but know I know in part, but then I will know in full' and will understand without having to ask. Or maybe I won't care to ask, because I'll be so wrapped up in seeing 'face-to-face.'
And today, while it is still today, I must continue to learn from my left leg. Just as you must learn from whatever is hardest in your life. And if there isn't anything very hard in your life, I suppose the question is, why isn't God working the deep things in you that only pain can work? Don't take my word for this notion, but David's, Jeremiah's, Paul's, and Peter's, to name a few good men. And Jesus' words as well, because this pain, I think, really is the cross in my life, the one He speaks of: "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:38)
So I lift my burning left leg off the couch once again, and follow Him.