I recently finished the book Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey. I tried to read this back in college just after my injury, but pesky things like school and life got in the way and I had to put it down before finding the answers I was looking for. Funny that I decided to pick it up again now after I’ve found those answers for myself. I didn’t need Yancey’s words to guide me through my pain, but I did notice that a lot of my struggles and growth were reflected in the pages.
Yancey talked to two people with quadriplegia. Brian Sternberg and Joni Eareckson Tada. About Brian he said: “Although he recognizes that God has providentially used his pain to bring good, he rejects the notion that God might allow such a condition to continue for the rest of his life. He has gambled his faith, and almost his theology, on the hope for healing.”
I have to admit, I found Brian’s story rather bleak, whereas, Joni’s words might as well have been my own. Yancey says, “She had to accept herself as a quadriplegic and search for new ways of coping. The process was painful. When her boyfriend would put his arm around her and squeeze, she felt nothing. At these times and others she kept fighting a temptation to close her eyes and fantasize, imagining what it would be like if she were well again. A fiancé, a sports car, long hikes in the woods, a place on a college lacrosse team – the possibilities were endless. But they were also worthless, and Joni realized that dwelling on them did not relieve her suffering and only delayed the process of self-acceptance.”
I believe in miracles. Whether that’s experimental therapy or something more along the lines of Jesus heals the paralytic. But I know that if I put all my hope and faith, time and energy into waiting for my miracle, I’ll miss something more important. My life.
I know God will heal me in His own time. He’s got it covered, which means I can put that particular worry in a box and pack it away in the crawl space next to the knick knacks I no longer want but can’t quite bring myself to throw away.
Joni felt the same. “I now realize that I will be healed,” she said. “I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person – I’m just going through a forty- or fifty-year delay, and God stays with me even through that. I now know the meaning of being “glorified.” It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.”
I’m content. I’m happy. Which means that when my personal miracle shows up I’ll be pleasantly surprised, instead of looking at my watch and saying, “You’re seventy years late”.