Valley Wisdom

"Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, 
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants, 
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, 
and establish the work of our hands upon us,
yes, establish the work of our hands!

For years, maybe ten, I have had knee pain.  It has gotten so bad that on the 7th of October I actually had knee surgery.  The doctor did say that I am a bit too young for this (I like this doctor) but my x-rays show that I'm a prime candidate for it.  So under the knife I went and now am in the process of healing.   One would naturally think that you should rest and recover after such a surgery.  But, nooooo, they get you up the same day walking.  The same week I had my first physical therapy session.  Yes, it hurts but I have to admit that after I could walk better.  I'm already scheduled to have the other knee done in December.  So, it's looking like the rest of 2014 will be looking like pain is gain kind of thing.

It is an odd concept that we have to have pain in order to get better. You've heard the saying, "no pain, no gain".  I've never really appreciated this slogan because it always referred to exercising and I'm not fond of exercising.  Right now, though, I have no choice but to exercise because if I don't the knee starts to seize up and becomes more painful than the exercising itself.   So, with each day passing my knee becomes stronger and I can walk better.

"I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart, I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

We don't have to look to far and there is always someone who is hurting.  It can be physical, emotional or other.  And the question isn't, "Will I suffer?" but "When will I suffer?".  Ever since the Garden of Eden when our first parents ate the fruit, suffering and pain were introduced into the world.  This affects our own world and there is no getting around it.

Some do suffer more than others.  My knee pain has no comparison to my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are dying for their faith.  Any pain and suffering that I encounter doesn't even come close to that.  Nevertheless, what we do go through in our lifetime, whether good or bad, has it's effect on us.  Those experiences that come into our lives mold us and shape us, help us to turn right or left, gives us perspective in the long run.  We don't like it and would rather have a life of ease and comfort.  I've told this to friends before:  really what I want is room service.  Which is absurd because for one, it isn't realistic nor is it healthy for the human experience.

Thinking of pain and suffering brings a certain amount of fear.  Most likely it is fearing the unknown in the midst of all of that.  So, logically, if one can omit any so-called bad circumstances then the fear will cease.  As a young mother, years ago, I remember trying to bargain with God asking him to spare me a list of painful circumstances.  I was afraid of the future and what that would mean for my family.  The sovereignty of God wasn't part of my thinking even though He was very much a part of my life.  So it went something like this:  "I will serve you like this if you will spare me and my family from this".  Foolish, to be sure, but was part of the fear I felt for any possible future catastrophe.  For some reason I didn't want John 16:33 to apply to my own life.  I don't really remember what was on this list that I had concocted but I wouldn't be surprised that now I have experienced a good portion of it.

Does this mean that God is unkind to this fearful creature?  Not at all!  For I am learning from many of these circumstances that the mere going through them has taken part of the fear away.  Hard times and unpleasantness is not fun.  I really don't ever want to go through bad times again even though it's probably just around the corner.  But what I can say for sure is that the Lord gives grace in the midst of unpleasant circumstances.  Hard providences can and are a tool of a loving Creator who has my best interest at heart.

To be brave and courageous in the face of suffering does not mean one isn't afraid.   The mental picture to consider is this:  A child walking in the darkness.  His heart starts beating faster and the breath is shorter.  The undeniable feeling and temptation to flight comes over him.  In that instant his hand reaches up to grab hold of the one who is bigger, stronger.  As the larger hand engulfs the smaller one the panic that was felt starts to subside.  Maybe it doesn't totally go away but he knows he isn't alone.  To be brave in the face of suffering is not to run away.  No, it is to reach for the One who is stronger as you keep moving forward.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Psalm 23:4

Pain and suffering are inevitable.  At some point in our lives we will experience it.  Whether it is caused by outside influences or by the choices we make it is part of the rhythm of this mortal life.  Of course, I'm not saying that we should look for trouble or pain.  Jesus did say that, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."(Matt. 6:34).  But when it does come to you,  turn to the One who will be your sufficiency and comfort.  There is wisdom to be gained in the valley.

So, come December 11th, right before I go under anesthesia (which also causes some anxiety), I will again commit my life to the Lord asking for strength and courage to go forward.  It's going to hurt and I will probably cry (I had to apologize to the physical therapy guy last time).  But I am confident that, come next spring and summer,  I will be walking differently.  I will be able to look back at the hurt and say, "It was worth it".  

At the end of it all, pain and suffering are not the goals.  They are just tools, opportunities or stepping stones to bring us closer to the only real heart's desire.  Hebrews 12:2 says, "looking to Jesus, . . . .  Consider him . . . ."  In the same way a child runs to the parent when they are hurt, we are to turn to the Savior in our moment of need and all the other moments of our lives.  

Jesus, what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high, 
storms about me, night o'er takes me,
he, my pilot, hears my cry.
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
he is with me to the end.



  1. Oh, Judy! What wonderful words of wisdom from a very dear, kind, and wise woman. Thank you!

  2. Such truth my friend. My ACL knee surgery was last year October 7th of 2013. What are the odds we have knee surgery the same day. And the physio is SO worth it.
    Love to you and Dan.