It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon. I had picked up Benjamin and Jessica from school, prepared a snack and was about to get them started on homework. Without warning I felt a stab in the left side of my back. I figured it must be some kind of weird muscle cramp, but over the next 20 minutes, the pain worsened to the point that I sent the kids to play while I hid in the bathroom so they wouldn’t see my agony.
Later that night at the medical centre, the diagnosis was made. I had a kidney stone! I was sent home with a prescription and told to ride it out. The following week was a blurry rollercoaster of torturous anguish interspersed with periods of almost-pain-free calm. I never quite knew what was coming next. That made any form of independence impossible. I couldn’t look after the kids on my own. Even when I felt okay for a few hours, I wasn’t allowed to drive due to the strength of the painkillers. Offers of help poured in from family and friends.
It took six days and 20 hours for the condition to resolve itself. At its most intense, the pain felt very much like the back labour I experienced before giving birth to Jessica. Each day we prayed for an end to the misery.
A few days into the ordeal, when yet another pain attack had just begun to subside, the Lord gently reminded me that the attentiveness lesson was meant for Mommy, too, and now would be a good time to pay attention to a few things He wanted to show me. Now? Are you kidding, Lord? I thought. The timing seemed crazy, but this is what I heard Him say:
- Some people live with chronic pain; you don’t always know who they are. Be kind and gracious to everyone.
- On a daily basis, be grateful and acutely aware of the privilege of good health. That blessed state can change in a heartbeat.
- Continue to be thankful even when you suffer because your eternity in heaven is sealed where pain will no longer exist. Current afflictions are a temporary condition.
- No matter what you go through, it will never come close to the excruciating agony that Jesus suffered for you on the cross.
These lessons from God came through crystal clear. He garnered my complete attention in those moments of helplessness and used my torment as a teacher. The context was perfect. I find it ironic (actually, pathetic) that it often takes a crisis to get me to stop and listen. Why do I insist on a windstorm, an earthquake or a fire (1 Kings 19) to draw me out of my self-absorption? Why do I make Him shout when it’s more in His character to whisper? Why can I not just pay close attention every day? Life would be so much better that way.