I am having back issues again. Not that again is really the most accurate term for it. The issues have never really gone away. The surgery I had in 2011 to repair a severely herniated disc in my lower back relieved a lot of pain but did not clear up everything. I’ve dealt with balance problems, nerve damage, and pain that comes and goes.
This summer the pain has come and forgotten to go away. It has gotten progressively worse, to the point where I have an appointment with my back surgeon in 7 days.
Now, back surgery is not something I am particularly looking forward to. Though I do remember how immediate the relief was last time. Sure my skin and muscle tissue hurt where it had been cut apart and sewn back together, but that was nothing compared to what I’d felt before. That almost instant relief sounds so good at times. At the same time I remember how difficult the recovery was. The physical therapy. The driving restrictions. The weeks of being homebound, except church and doctor appointments. The relying on others to help with just about everything while I recovered. The no chore restriction-oh wait I actually enjoyed that one! My point is I’m not very sure that I want to have another back surgery. I only know I want this intense back pain to go away. If my surgeon thinks surgery will be the best way for that to happen than OK. God brought me through the last one and I have faith He will carry me through this one as well.
For the last 2½ years I’ve dealt with nerve damage caused by that herniated disc. While praying over the current situation, I asked God again, as I have a few times since those nerves were damaged to please heal them. “Lord,” I prayed, “I know the doctors say nothing can be done and that that this latest problem has nothing to do with the nerves that don’t work right. But could You do something for me? If I do need surgery to repair the disc, could You somehow regenerate those nerves? Can You please wake them up so they can work correctly and the problems they have caused just go away?””
Shortly after my prayer, I opened my Bible study book to a section about health. I read there the following words from the apostle Paul: “I was given a thorn in my flesh…. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said ‘my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
I said I asked God to heal those nerves, but as I read over the conversation, it sure sounds a lot more like begging than simply requesting. And I know this was much more than just the third time I brought it up. Has God flat-out refused to heal me? I don’t think so. There is always a chance that He will restore complete use of the lower portions of my body. For now, though He is asking me to lean on Him, to trust in His grace, to believe that what the world sees as my weakness could be a beautiful conduit for His power.
I don’t know if the physical healing I desire will ever come. But do you know what is even better than physical healing? The spiritual healing I am experiencing. Day by day my hunger for God is satisfied as my thirst for Him intensifies. If it takes a thorn in my flesh- or a handful of damaged nerve in my back-in order for me to experience that, I gladly embrace it!