The cool thing about documenting my spiritual journey (as it relates to my health) on the Internet, is that I have proof of God working on my behalf. Whether or not you read this post previously, take a minute to read this older post before reading on, so that you have the full context.
Now that you have some context, it’s time to conclude my update on last semester.
It was research-paper season. I had three research papers due within three weeks of one another, each with a 10-page or 20-page minimum. (My thesis ended up being 25.) For a normal college student, this is a lot of typing to do within a short timeframe. (Please don’t accuse me of procrastinating. I truly did the best that I could with the circumstances of my physical and mental health.)
About a week before my first paper was due, I picked up something with my dominant hand that ended up being much heavier than I expected. After that, I couldn’t use that hand for a week. An. Entire. Week.
I had three research papers to finish and 0 cooperation from my dominant hand. My poor left hand had to do all the typing for that entire week. Then it ended up dislocating maybe two weeks later. RIP.
At some point in this struggle, we moved up my follow-up appointment with my hand doctor for the week after Thanksgiving, after Paper 1’s deadline and just before Paper 2’s deadline.
I walked into this appointment completely brain-dead from working on papers in every waking moment. I didn’t even rehearse my spiel for my doctor. (I’m trying to remember back to what I actually told my doctor. I know I wasn’t eloquent. There’s a possibility I just lifted my hand and said, “It doesn’t work.”) BUT, because of what was said in my last appointment with this same doctor, my expectation was for my doctor to talk about the cyst in my bone and the removal process of drilling a hole through the bone.
I’m not a medical expert. Don’t assume that I know what I’m talking about. But I think an important detail of this story is that my doctor changed locations, and, thus, medical equipment. As a result, the X-rays I had at this new location are….different (better/more reliable). When my doctor came in with the newest X-rays, he actually had not received my records from his previous location. So he was only looking at my hand as that day’s X-rays presented.
Things that went according to expectation: He mentioned a cyst.
Things that were not according to expectation: The location of the cyst. There was no cyst inside any of my bones. The cyst was in between bones–and I think it moved from lateral to medial side. (“Moved” as in, previous X-rays indicated a cyst inside one bone; recent X-rays indicated that there was no longer a cyst in the same location, but there was a cyst in a new location.)
Things that were not according to expectation, continued: I don’t exhibit any signs of arthritis. !?! Yeah. My limited medical knowledge from A&P told me that osteoarthritis is “wear-and-tear” arthritis, as in irreversible damage. It doesn’t make sense for me to have osteoarthritis in June and not present any signs in November.
It doesn’t make sense. It’s an outrageous situation. These are phrases that I heard two weeks before my November appointment that stuck in my mind.
The setting in which I heard these phrases before my appointment was in one of my Old Testament classes in which we studied the book of Job. Ah, Job. Arguably one of the most difficult books of the Bible to read. Just as I’m not a medical expert, and you shouldn’t assume I know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to pretend that I understand the book of Job. I passed my class and moved on. But, obviously, some lecture points have stayed with me.
3 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
4 “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.”
Job 40:3-5 (ESV)
In the middle of God’s monologue, Job interjects his confession and vows to remain silent. But Job’s interjection does not conclude the Divine Speeches.
6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
7 “Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
8 Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
God responds to Job by exalting mythical creatures that were known for fighting back. Then Job repents from his last statement–his vow to remain silent.
42 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42: 2-6
When Job “repents,” he then vows to question God. After this point, the story of Job is that he lives happily ever after, due to God’s restoration and blessings.
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil[b]that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money[c] and a ring of gold.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. 15 And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days.
What an interesting story. Job vows not to question God for his suffering and then gets chastised for his vow. So then Job vows to question God and is consequently rewarded.
Here are some notes that I took before my appointment:
“What do we do when we don’t understand what God is doing? Stand up. Keep pushing.
The book of Job deliberately sets up an outrageous situation in which the redemptive purpose is nearly impossible to see.
The only answer that is unacceptable is no answer at all. Silence is the wrong move.”
As I was sitting in heavy traffic coming back from Thanksgiving break, I had time to think. So I did. I thought about my inability to write a few weeks before. I thought about how much more difficult even typing would be, now that my non-dominant hand had also dislocated. I thought about this blog and how much I’ve grown in my own faith because of my writing. I thought about my friend who used this blog to minister to a disabled refugee when she herself could not relate. I thought about my genuine desire to glorify God through my writing.
I thought about it, and it didn’t make sense. It was an outrageous situation. The God whom I wanted to glorify was preventing me from doing so in the way I desired. It was outrageous, and I told God. I let Him know how frustrated I was. I demanded that He not take away my ability to write, when I genuinely wanted to glorify Him through it. Sitting in standstill traffic, I yelled. I let out the anger that I had not allowed myself to feel against God. I prayed the prayer I hadn’t allowed myself to pray.
Two days later, I found out that I don’t have arthritis. !?! And the issue that I was having was fixable. !?! And that didn’t involve drilling a hole through bone. !?! And that recovery would be a breeze after what I went through with shoulder surgery. !?!
I am now a month and a half out from said surgery. My doctor removed the cyst from between the bones–my literal thorn in the flesh. My hand bones no longer grind against one another with every move I make. I am one or two physical therapy appointments from getting discharged. (I did PT for 5 months after shoulder surgery.) As evidenced by this post, I am able to write again. This past week, I took almost all of my class notes by hand, which hasn’t happened since my freshman year. I also attempted to play piano today. I’ve experienced healing. It is well with my soul.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!