Written by Johnny Rivera on 10/11/18
I have learned so much in the last 6 weeks. I have learned so much about myself since the day of my son’s accident. But I also have learned things about the human body that have helped me to understand God and how He works even more. One of the things that I learned has to to with the healing of fractured bones and how that relates to the to pain and suffering seen in the Scriptures.
On October 10th we had our first follow up appointment with the Orthopedist. 5 weeks after the accident, we were anxious to get an update. We had been praying alongside many others that the doctor would tell us that our son was healing well and at an extraordinary pace. Those prayers were answered but there was something that I learned in our conversation with the doctor that I will not forget. As the doctor examined my son’s left leg and right leg,he asked if there was any pain. My son reported that his right leg hurt much more than the left. The doctor then said something that stuck with me, “in this case pain is a sign that the leg and knee are healing. The discomfort you feel is a sign that your injuries are in fact healing.” The leg with the greater pain was actually healing better than the one that was experiencing less pain. This stood out to me because it reminded me of another conversation I had with the physical therapist who mentioned that part of rehab is pushing through some pain so that you can heal and regain strength in your body. Have you ever heard the saying “no pain no gain”? That is actually “painfully” true when it comes to recovering from fractures and going through physical rehabilitation.
It is also a bit ironic that doctors have faith in the process of healing. Doctors told us early on that his bones would heal. We were told to trust the process, that bones heal. Doctors trust in a process that God created for bones to heal. When you consider that process of healing it is hard to fathom that we are all just part of a cosmic accident. But I think even more importantly, as Christians we must trust God’s process of healing in our own lives. There are times when we fight pain and suffering when God is trying to bring us healing. There are also times when we experience pain and suffering because of evil in this world and God uses it to bring healing and growth in our lives. When we face suffering, I wonder if we would be better served to seek the healing and growth God could bring through the pain. Instead of the usual, “why me?”, or “why do such bad things happen?”, we could instead start with “pain and suffering are part of living in this world, so how will God bring growth and healing through even this?”
We all say we want to grow. But the truth is we don’t want the pain that it takes for us to grow. We have to remind Javi that the pain he is experiencing is actually a sign that he is healing. And if he is healing then he is getting stronger and closer to recovery. That is how the process works. If you want to heal and progress you must experience some pain. This whole idea reminded me of a particular passage in Philippians 3:10-11
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Do you want to know Christ? Do you really want to know Christ? If you are a disciple of Jesus your answer to that is usually an empathic “yes”! If you were to be asked, “do you want to know the power of his resurrection?”, again we would respond with an emphatic and enthusiastic, “yes”! And if you were asked, “do you want to participate in his sufferings?”you would say “uh… can I get back to you on that one?” Or if we were feeling spiritual we might ask, “what kind of suffering are we talking about?” Whatever the case, we want to know Christ without the suffering. We want to know the Suffering Servant without suffering or serving. At least not suffering or serving to the extent He did! In fact if we are honest with ourselves, we want to be like Him while suffering as little as possible and while serving others in equal measure as we are being served. If we want to know Jesus we must share in suffering. That is part of the process. If we want to grow and heal we must experience pain. We must trust the process, which for us as disciples means we trust the One in charge of the process. When we trust Him the process is the road to healing and growth.
The Cross will help us through those times of pain and suffering. The Cross reminds us that we don’t suffer because He doesn’t love us. We often question God and whether He loves us or is with us when we suffer. Yet we know that Jesus was loved by his Father and yet experienced suffering. So our suffering does not equal a lack of love! Secondly, on the Cross healing would also come through His pain, yet not his own healing but ours!
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV
The Cross also reminds us of the power of God and all that He can accomplish through the pain. No matter how dark Friday and Saturday may be Sunday will come and it will be glorious! Lastly, the Cross reminds us of how much He loves us. Seeing my son suffer was brutal. I cannot put it into words. I often found myself praying and saying to God, “you know what this feels like!” And yet God chose that suffering for His Son for my benefit and yours. Praise God that we are healed by his wounds!
So let’s remember healing hurts. God can bring incredible healing and growth through pain. We cannot know Christ without being acquainted with suffering. We must trust the process and the One in charge of that process. And lastly remember Paul’s words to the church in Corinth,
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV
Elder & Evangelist
Central Jersey Church of Christ