As expected, I’ve had another traumatic hospital experience that’s prompted me to write this blog post. I wish that I wrote my best blog posts during times when I’m on the upswing in my faith and filled with overwhelming hope and good news; but if I’ve learned anything over the last four years as a quadriplegic, the hardest times have been the most fruitful times in terms of my spiritual growth.
Romans 5: 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
So as not to bore you with all the gory details of what happened last month, I will tell you I went for a major surgery that required several days of recovery time in the hospital. Over the next three weeks, I was in and out of the hospital a total of 15 days. The last five days, I was so sick with an infection, I was unable to speak. The doctors around me were asking if I knew my name, the month, the year, where I was, etc., and all I could do was shake my head no. I absolutely could not formulate any answers in my mind to those simple questions. It was completely terrifying not being able to communicate with anyone.
I returned from the hospital very discouraged and very low on faith. I found myself, as I often do when things like this happen, questioning God’s plan for my life. I was in such a deep funk. I prayed very little and read the Word even less often. I thought about reading, I thought about praying, I even thought about writing a blog post, but I kept telling myself, I’ll do it when I feel better.
Something I realize about myself after all this time of being a follower of Christ, is that I want to feel good emotionally and spiritually before I move forward from a difficult life situation. I want to wake up in the morning, filled with a renewed sense of faith and motivation, and teach everyone about the great things I’ve learned. Many times, that great feeling of renewal never comes.
Philemon 1: 1-2 From: Paul, in jail for preaching the Good News about Jesus Christ, and from Brother Timothy. To: Philemon, our much-loved fellow worker, and to the church that meets in your home, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus who, like myself, is a soldier of the cross. (TLB)
Soldiers don’t have the luxury of waiting until they feel motivated before going to the battlefield. I’m sure that Paul was not enjoying his time in jail, and yet it became clear throughout the whole prison guard, that he was in chains for Christ. Not only did he share his faith with anyone that would listen, he shepherded the churches that had been scattered throughout the regions. Paul was a soldier of the cross and not enslaved by his feelings.
I realized this morning, the only way to work myself out of this feeling of being in the miry depths, was to fight through my feelings and do what is right for God. I didn’t feel inspired and I didn’t feel an incredible sense of renewal when I woke up this morning, but I knew I would continue to sit in the pit of despair if I didn’t do something. Anything.
A true soldier of the cross does not live by their feelings. A true soldier fights when they feel weak and when they feel strong. A true soldier runs the race marked out for them, despite the bumps and bruises they get along the way. A true soldier goes into strict training and adheres to that training, knowing it will create a harvest of righteousness.
Don’t get me wrong – I know we need the Spirit to do any of these things and to do them well. But sometimes it’s just a decision to stay in step with the Spirit and to fan it into flame. I hope you will join me in the good fight.
Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scriptures are taken from the New International Version (NIV) Bible, copyright 2011.