The only surgery I’ve ever had to endure was getting my tonsils removed when I was 18. I remember being happy when I was told I needed to get them out. They had swollen to about the size of some pool balls and made it hard to breathe. On the other hand, I was nervous about getting put to sleep and also nervous about the pain that would ensue after surgery. I can imagine surgery for others can evoke a lot of similar reactions. Especially, for a more serious surgery, or health crisis. I bet there would be swarming feelings of fear, anxiety, or maybe even denial. Everything revolving around surgery is scary to me. I hate making appointments, I hate waiting rooms with their expired issues of Good Housekeeping, I hate the smell, and the very thought of incisions/blood on me is repulsive.
I’m probably preaching to the choir when it comes to talking about physical surgery. I don’t know many people who get overly excited about that sort of thing. I bring it up because I wanted to write about an illustration that’s been developing in my mind for a month or so now. It deals with spiritual surgery and breaking. To those reading that have a relationship with Christ, it’s probably safe to say that you will experience some level of spiritual surgery and breaking in your life as you walk with the Lord.
Knowing you are Sick.
I walked around for many years knowing I had issues. I knew God was always coming to me with something. It could be something destructive I was getting into or it could be a reservation I was holding onto in my heart. The desire was always there to deepen in my relationship with God, but I couldn’t let some things go. I also didn’t want to go through any suffering that may occur to get to that point. It’s like when someone gets cancer. Most would want to be rid of the cancer and be able to live life without the fear of impending death. Then, the truth is made known. The cancer that this person has, needs to be cut-out of their body and they must undergo extreme treatments. I don’t know what it’s like to know I have cancer but I do know what it’s like to know I am spiritually sick. I denied that I was sick for many years. I procrastinated in my dealing with it. I manipulated my way out of others seeing that I was sick. Regardless, it came to a point where I couldn’t function normally. Pure frustration. Constant relational failure. Joy depleting. It was obvious. God finally said to me, “Alright, we’ve gotta do something about this Jordan”. I think we all get to this point when we live with unattended spiritual sickness. If you feel a spiritual sickness in your own life, pray to God that he can break you. It’s not a very glamorous prayer, but it’s effective.
God’s Waiting Room.
I visited God’s waiting room recently. I was frustrated with God that he would uproot me like that and just plop me down in some bleak waiting room. Why me God? I mean, don’t people live with cancer all the time? Why are you so determined to take mine out? Why is my cancer so severe and debilitating?
It feels like an eternity sometimes in a waiting room. Bad tv, nothing to read, disgruntled people sitting next to you, etc. God’s waiting room is similar but also has its perks . As I sat in God’s waiting room, He started to show me things. Unseen things, revealed. It was like a new episode of a television show. He didn’t give me an expired magazine, but He provided His unchanging Word. God’s Word doesn’t become irrelevant like waiting room magazines. I wasn’t surrounded by disengaged people but rather surrounded by people who cared and were praying for me as I await the next step.
It was nice to have those provisions. I needed them more than ever because lo, A familiar voice was heard in the waiting room. The voice utters nothing but lies. The voice utters nothing but accusations. I’m well aware that Satan knows what God is trying to do in my life and wants to see none of that happen.
“You aren’t even sick”
“You are hopeless. No way you will ever get better”
“It would probably be better for these other people if you didn’t exist”
“You’ve only ever been a burden to others”
1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “ Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”
Satan wanted me to walk right out of that waiting room. He wanted me to continue living life as if the cancer had subsided and everything was fine. I’m so thankful the Lord kept me in that waiting room. The lies that Satan likes to throw around are very common among believers. I’m sure that Satan has put the exact thoughts above, in other believer’s heads. We can stand firm against these ideas because we know that our fellow brothers and sisters struggle with the same thoughts all the time. This is why fellowship is so important. We must share the thoughts we are having with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must also take these thoughts to the Lord.
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
Walking toward Anesthesia.
Your name is called and you get up from your seat in the waiting room to head in and talk with the nurses about the procedure. There’s still a chance to back out. You are just making a short walk from the waiting room and into a different room. Often when we experience breaking/surgery in our lives, it’s not instant. It takes constant decisions to hang in there and take additional steps. Personally, I tend to thrash around and make things miserable for myself. I say to myself, “uhhh can’t this just be over? Can’t I just be better NOW?” This is where patience in our walks is so critical. God doesn’t usually just snap a finger and then we are healed all of a sudden. He throws things in our path that demand a decision to either trust him or trust ourselves. We must learn to take our doubtful thoughts captive at this point (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is what it looks like when we are walking out of the waiting room.
Then comes one of the strangest parts and possibly the scariest. The anesthesia.
Anesthesia has a very low chance of killing you in and of itself. At the same time, it is at this point where your lose control. You basically fall into a fake sleep/coma. You cannot speak for yourself. You cannot make decisions. You just get to lie there as the doctor performs the surgery you need. Up until the point where the needle enters your arm you have control, but after that, none. In a similar fashion, we must decide to give the Lord control over everything in our lives. The truth is that we are so very sick and we really don’t know how to fix it ourselves. Our methods of fixing our sickness only lead to more sickness. We need a doctor. We need the Lord’s steady hand to operate. When you tell the Lord that you will allow it, He can begin.
The Operating Theater.
An incision here. An incision over there. The Lord begins to carefully and gracefully remove the cancer from your body. When God performs surgery on us in life, we obviously aren’t unconscious. We are still conscious and still have choices we can make. We must continue to allow the surgery to continue. This is why its important that we don’t squirm and try to do the surgery ourselves. We must treat it as a real surgery of sorts. If we start trying to take the knife and cut out the cancer ourselves, we could really prolong or worsen the whole process. It’s still very important to resonate on the verses previously stated in 1 Peter 5 while going through surgery (V. 8 & 9). Something I’ve been learning is how to just be still. I need to let the Lord do what I don’t know how to do.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
Spiritual surgery and breaking can be miserable to go through at times. Comfort can be elusive. You can feel overwhelmed to the point of tears so often. But when everything is done and you are released to head home, I imagine it feeling like sweet release. I’ve seen this to be true in people’s lives close to me.
I only say “I imagine” because I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m most definitely still in the operating theater when it comes to my walk. Sometimes I feel like the anesthesia is wearing off and then God asks if I’d like another shot. If I say yes, he gladly begins operating again. The more I learn how to be still and not thrash around, the easier the operating becomes.
Verse 10 in 1 Peter 5 is quite the promise to look forward to for those of us undergoing some surgery, is it not?