It’s never too late to learn new lessons of trust.
by Yvonne Kays
Colors of fall reflected in the waters of Mirror Pond. Children squealed with glee as they ran through piles of fallen leaves under huge oak trees lining the banks. A warm breeze caressed my face.
I’d come for a short walk in the park on a beautiful fall day. But . . . I could not walk far. Although I had always been active, now in the autumn of my life, I was feeling a little discouraged by progressive impairment due to arthritis.
I sighed as I got up from the park bench, leaning heavily on my walking staff. For over a year I’d been dealing with low back and hip pain. Due to COVID patients filling our hospital and staffing shortages, all elective surgeries had been postponed till January.
I’d been on a waiting list for a hip replacement for over three months. Even normal household tasks were becoming jobs I needed to space and rest between.
Pain and joy
Sciatic pain from my knee down to my ankle burned after walking only five minutes back toward my car. I sank down on another bench to rest.
Smiling, I watched a little girl throw back her head and laugh aloud as she rode secure on her daddy’s shoulders, her small hands snuggly held in her father’s strong ones. No fear — only joy splashed across her face as he playfully galloped along the path in the park.
As I pondered the innocent joy of the little girl on her daddy’s shoulders, I was reminded of a scripture I’d recently recorded in my journal. Moses had proclaimed these words over the tribe of Benjamin: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him [her] all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12).
Every morning I wrote down scriptures that brought encouragement. So many messages had come about resting in the Lord . . . to be still . . . to wait with hope: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).
When I got home, I pulled out my dictionary. I was amazed at the nuances in the word rest: to relax, lean on, receive relief from anything distressing or tiring, receive support. An absence of motion, to cease striving, repose or sleep. Was I resting like that?
As the apostle Paul awaited execution, he wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). He had suffered beatings, imprisonment, stonings, shipwrecks, nakedness, hunger, and persecutions. How could Paul endure so much trouble with such courage and hope?
Lord, please help me learn the secret of being content.
David came to mind. As he faced Goliath, he declared that God had helped him slay the lion and the bear, and he proclaimed that God would help him slay this giant as well.
Remembering how God had helped him in the past, he fearlessly declared his trust in the Lord’s provision.
Facing my health giants, I could also choose to remember how God helped me in the past.
Five years ago, I dealt with similar sciatic pain both day and night. I was failing to make any progress in physical therapy when a friend in Bible study encouraged me to seek an MRI. It revealed that I had a cyst inside my spine, pressing on the sciatic nerve. The doctor drained the cyst, but told me it could return. Praise the Lord, it had not.
During COVID, I had double vision for a season. I prayed to see the situation through God’s perspective, and He kept me calm and peaceful. An MRI ruled out serious causes my ophthalmologist had feared, and she diagnosed the problem. A tiny muscle in my right eye was not functioning, probably a result of a virus attack that she warned could last months.
But within a month, the double vision left as mysteriously as it had come. Again, I praised the Lord for His healing.
Pulling out my journal, I reread words I’d written at the time: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT).
And a quote from James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905): “All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power, and love.”
I thought again of the little girl’s laughter and envied her exuberance as she rode on her daddy’s shoulders. Could I learn to accept this testing time with that kind of joy, trusting my heavenly Father to keep me safe just as she trusted in her earthly father?
Acceptance was a key to peace. God had brought healing and relief in the past, and He could again in His perfect timing. I would lean on Him as I waited and be open to the lessons He had for me to learn.
Waiting and testing
Waiting is not easy, but as I studied my Bible, I saw a repeated pattern of waiting and periods of testing in the lives of so many biblical heroes.
Abraham and Sarah waited years for their promised son. Joseph suffered as a slave and in prison for years before being raised to the position as a ruler in Egypt. Moses tended sheep in the desert for forty years before his calling to lead the tribes of Israel out of captivity in Egypt.
I shouldn’t be surprised when I’m asked to wait. Seeking God’s perspective throughout my day would bring more peace and joy in this season of distress.
Change of focus
So I disciplined myself to notice God’s daily gifts and to record one in my journal every morning. Thankfulness brought more joy even as my disability increased and sciatic pain became a constant companion. My husband stepped up to do our shopping and cooked our evening meal.
Instead of focusing on dark thoughts of pain and discouragement, I would pull out my journal and be encouraged by the many blessings God had brought into my life, the prayers He had answered. I claimed precious promises in His Word.
Lessons in nature
I could enjoy the little hummingbirds dipping and diving by their feeder on the porch, quail running through the yard, and the baby bunny that lived under our back deck. Observing nature and the vibrant colors of the sunset reminded me of the greatness and faithfulness of my Creator.
And . . . another promise came: “At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen” (Isaiah 60:22, NLT).
Within days, the phone call came: I qualified to be scheduled for out-patient hip replacement. Did I want to accept an appointment in early February?
Thankful for the opportunity, though still months away, I quickly said, “Yes!”
Lord, I trust You. Teach me the lessons You have for me in this season. Grow Your fruit in me, and help me wait with hope.
The weeks passed slowly as I dealt daily with increasing hip pain and unrelenting sciatic pain. In January, I passed the pre-surgery physicals. Finally, the day arrived.
When I awoke after the surgery, I had a new hip. The doctor and the anesthesiologist stopped by to confirm that all had gone well. A young physical therapist soon had me on a walker and learning to maneuver steps. He gave me a list of dos and don’ts, and scheduled me to start physical therapy the following Monday.
I couldn’t believe how well I was walking. Hip pain was gone, and I had no sciatic pain now that the pelvis was level again. Yay, God!
Sometimes when pain and discomfort crowd into my life, all I can do is trust in my heavenly Father for strength, and rest in Him until His good plan comes to fulfillment.
Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, except where noted.
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