Healing is all about the three components we stress at CURE International: emotional, spiritual, and physical. All three areas need to be in balance, strong, and healthy for us to function well. How often do we keep on plugging along knowing something is not right, but we fail to seek out what? We spend time and money seeking out physicians to cure our physical ills but fail to invest in time for our spiritual needs. Why?
I am reading an interesting book by Peter Scazzero called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He has many thoughts to ponder and debate as you read through his book. I have been thinking through the difference Scazzero describes between trial and setbacks versus the wall. Both are like familiar friends to me. Trials face us all. Trials can be small, such as a traffic jam or rude teller. Trials can be a surgery you face or an illness in the family. James tells us to consider facing trials as pure joy since the trials will work on your faith and build perseverance. Trials help to mold and change us in our daily walk of life. Trials are not to be minimized. Trials can and often do hurt. Trials will help to mature you and build up wisdom.
As an orthopedic surgeon, I look back and know some of the trials I have experienced helped to give me better insight into caring for people. Trials have made me a better orthopedist and a better person. As a young resident armed with book knowledge, all will be possible and failure is not to be considered. I smile thinking back to suggestions I made to my teachers based on a single article I read. They would patiently explain their logic or make me learn some history for a more complete picture.
Sometimes, the very best plans and intentions fail to achieve the planned result. People heal differently. Rigid constructs fall apart for no apparent reason. Warnings from elder surgeons or previous studies you ignored come out in your failure. You face the unexpected result and must ask, “Now what?”
Knowledge comes from study; wisdom links knowledge with experience to grow to a new level. When I first joined CURE in Kijabe, Kenya, I was already an experienced orthopedic surgeon, having been in practice 15 years. I had good training and a fair degree of confidence. How hard could it be? I soon found out.
Children living in the developing world often have physical disabilities not seen in the West. Clubfoot deformities are treated at birth. Fractures generally are reduced and cared for reasonably. Burns on limbs are not just left alone to scar into grotesque twisted shapes. Nutritional deficiencies affect and create deformities as well as slow healing. I went to my books seeking more knowledge but found many children were not found there. Using the skills and knowledge present, I embarked on the long journey toward wisdom. Wisdom is a goal that I will never reach in this life experience. God keeps me humble, so I do not think I am in charge. Trials are then opportunities for growth.
The wall is a much more daunting event. The wall is when nothing seems to be going right and you are forever in the “valley of the shadow.” Scazzero describes the wall as “the dark night of the soul.” Walls are like the famous Job losing 10 children, his health, and his wealth in one day. A wall is going from living an unconcerned life to facing the grim news of advanced cancer. A wall is doing great work and receiving glowing reports only to be suddenly handed a pink slip ending your job. Walls loom large with no way seen around them and no way to climb over them. You can either bounce off the wall unchanged, leaving the wall there, or you can allow God to lead you through changing your life. Walls often leave you feeling the darkness waiting for relief.
Trials tend to be shorter while walls can remain for months and years. David fled from a jealous King Saul in biblical times for over 10 years even though David had been anointed as Israel’s future king. Joni Tada faced the wall of traumatic quadriplegia and passed through to a whole new life of ministry to the disabled in a “walk” of faith impossible before.
We all have trials that turn to bitterness or joy depending on our attitude. We all face walls as well. Do we let these walls defeat us and stop our progress toward wisdom, maturity, and our potential? Waiting is a difficult task for me. Waiting is a part of maturing as a Christ Follower. He is in charge, not me. My schedule, my desires, my view of what should be must bow to the wisdom of God. He will lead us through if we wait, watch, and listen. He will lead us to a better place as we wait in His grip.