(Jesus said) “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47 (NIV)
“Are you ever going to get better?”
“Have you seen a surgeon?”
“How long has it been?”
“Still dealing with the feet, I see?”
“Have you tried ______?”
“Do you have unconfessed sin in your life?”
“Why are you still having so many issues? Aren’t you tired of it?”
“Are you sure you are following what God wants you to do with the feet?”
Yes folks, these are a sampling of the questions I have had to endure, navigate around, attempt to answer and/or ignore. Most of them have been repeated to me in the last month alone.
I got them at the beginning of this ordeal, in the middle and now in the present tense.
Many, if not all, people are well-meaning and ask from a place of love. Some do not quite understand how his/her question can send a sufferer into a tailspin of doubt and grief.
It is already very difficult to be a sufferer (and this is the very first post I have labeled myself as such) and be asked these types of questions. It’s as if I have the answers but I am holding out because A.) I like pain and limitations. B.) I am looking or waiting for a better option to come along. C.) My room is my comfy place so I enjoy being here day in and day out. D.) I want sympathy.
My husband John wanted me to title this post: Biblical Responses to Stupid Questions People Ask Me, but for starters, I do not use that S-word in my home (others might but I refrain), and number two, it is rather abrupt and stand-offish.
Jesus said it beautifully in John 8 – those who know God, hear Him. Then this means I have heard and will continue to hear Him in my storm.
He speaks, we listen. We know His voice because we are His sheep (John 10:4). We don’t follow anyone else because he is not our Shepherd (John 10:5).
This may seem unusual to write about in this context, but if I were to follow every one’s advice or listen to all which has been thrown my way – I would go bonkers. To quote my dad, “I am well aware of the situation.” I know what is going on, how long it’s been (3 years, 3 months, 6 days). I know how much I have missed, how much I can and cannot do, how much money has gone into this (well, not really, but let’s just say every trip to Lino is not covered by insurance), and how much sacrifice my family has given to me (incalculable), and how many tears I have cried.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 (NIV)
Not only is every tear accounted for and held by God but,
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Revelation 7:17 (NIV)
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the older order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
My suffering has not gone unnoticed by God. Every moment, every decision, every sleepless night, every trip to Sacramento in the wee sma’s of the morning, every roll of tape and strapping, everything, has been seen. Nothing is outside of my Father’s sight.
When others doubt this, and pass their doubts onto me, it’s as if I were given a dead chicken. I heard this analogy years ago at a marriage retreat. It goes something like this: I have a problem. It’s a big problem and I am actually tired of holding this problem. It may or may not have something to do with you, but I am going to give it to you anyway. Here’s the dead chicken. It is now your problem.
So, another’s doubt becomes a dead chicken to someone else, which could lead to a dead chicken being passed along ad nauseum, as well as a host of other problems. Doubt for the new owner, more stuff to juggle, a whole locker full of dead chickens from others, more exhaustion from being given yet one more dead chicken.
The most painful of all the questions I have been asked is: “What sin are you hiding and have not confessed because, you know, you will not be healed until you do?”
For the record, my life is an open book. What you see is what you get. Having this kind of comment does more harm than good. Again, many are well meaning, but some things are left better unsaid. In an attempt to bring Christ into every situation, which I believe is needed, accusing a sufferer of unrepented sin and saying the only reason suffering is ongoing is because of sin cannot be supported biblically.
Now to answer a few questions:
- Lino assures me I will get better.
- Yes, I have seen a surgeon. In fact, I’ve seen four. And my misdiagnosis came from #2.
- I have tried only what doctors and Lino have recommended. Because Lino has been right every single time, we have decided to weigh his opinions at the top. At this point I am not doing any PT (in the truest sense) because he wants me to be walking on them as my only PT. For most of this journey I have been told to NOT muscle through it and to forget “No pain, no gain”; until recently. And then it just got revoked. I did too much; now I have been grounded. Too much was too much.
- Yes, I am very tired of this. In fact, I despise it. I even had a fit of anger two weeks ago – it felt good to acknowledge the hurt and anger, but the fact remains the same: God is Sovereign. It is His will for me to be in this affliction. Nothing I do will alter this fact. My part is submission and obedience.
In conclusion, I don’t want to leave this piece with a bad taste in your mouth, rather I want to offer hope. Hope for those suffering and hope for those around loved ones who are suffering.
God hears. He sees. Hagar found this to be true when she was in her darkest place (see Genesis 21:14-21). God does hear us too. Because He is a Shepherd, He is doing His job – tending His flock, under His care (Psalm 95:7). What a comfort.
As for those of us who want to offer comfort – tread carefully. Since I am on the receiving end of words meant to comfort, maybe think twice before saying something. What may seem a comfort to you, may in fact, be wounding to another. Things which bring me comfort: prayer, a song, a visit, a card or a sweet text. Suffering is a lonely road so having someone to share it with helps.
Father, thank You for being our Shepherd, our Help and our Comfort. Thank You for seeing us and hearing us. Thank You for walking with us in our suffering. May we be a true comfort to others as well. In the name of Your Son, Jesus. AMEN