Are You Leaning When it Hurts?

Hot, excruciating pain ripped and pulsated through the young man’s weak body . . . the aftermath of an operation meant for his good. Now, the physical therapist asked the man to stand up and walk. How could he walk when he could barely breathe from the pain?

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However, pain had been a constant companion for much of the young man’s life, and he wanted more than anything to convalesce at home. So he squared his shoulders and gripped the parallel bars on either side of him. Sweat oozed from his furrowed brow and rolled down his flushed cheeks as he leaned on those bars for support, and walked. One step, then another. Over and over . . . until he reached home.

My friend told me that watching her son-in-law grip the parallel bars became a visual of how she had to hold onto the Lord during that desperate week when all she could do was “cry for God’s help.”

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Like my friend, I’ve had to helplessly watch loved ones suffer. I’ve begged God, “Remove this cup. Spare them!” However, even in this . . . the Lord responds, “Rest in Me.”

At first, I balked at that term because rest means to cease from activity, and I didn’t want to sit back and be idle. I wanted to do something constructive to alleviate their pain. However, I discovered the word rest also means to be supported and remain confident. And a synonym for rest is LEAN. 

Perhaps you’ve heard the hymn Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

To Rest—or lean—on the everlasting arms of God means we’re “supported” by Him, as we struggle to walk through each day . . . down every haphazard path. The same way someone leans on a cane, and relies on it to support their weight while they’re walking,  we’re urged to cast all our cares on the Lord and lean on Him.

To rest and lean on the Lord also means we can “remain confident” He’s present and bringing about good from every trial, including praise and glory. (1Peter 1:7) For even my friend praised the Lord for His faithfulness, and bringing so many people to pray for her family.

Sadly, her son-in-law still needs prayer as he recovers at home because the debilitating pain remains, and the physical therapy continues. There’s no way to rest (cease from activity) if he wants to improve his mobility. He has to rise, do the hard thing, and lean on his crutches and walk even when everything in him might shout, “I can’t!”

Likewise, God calls His beloved children to stand up and walk by faith . . . one day at a time . . . leaning on the Lord for strength as well as understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

Photos: Pixabay

How Do You Handle A New Normal?

My friend could walk and feed herself a year ago.

She could hug her husband, hold her grandchildren, use her mobile phone, drive a car. Pull the bedspread over her shoulders when she was cold at night.

Now Vicki’s life is a new kind of normal.

Physical therapy, medical appointments, caregivers, pain pills, temporarily living with her husband in their married daughter’s home, learning to walk by faith and not by sight.

Doctors predict improvement, but rehabilitation is a slow process. There are never guarantees in life, but there is gratitude. And Vicki is the first to praise God’s mercies and provision in this new normal.

My friend, Terrie, and I visited our mutual friend. A married couple also came. We gathered around the dining room table to eat pancakes, talk, laugh, listen, pray. Tried not to cry.

But it was no small matter—and I doubt it went unnoticed—that a stranger sat among us. The caregiver tried to be inconspicuous as she fed Vicki, waited for her to chew, and swallow. Wiped her mouth and held a glass of orange juice to her lips.

Before we left, Terrie offered to massage Vicki’s feet with lotion.

Vicki smiled. “That’d be great. Thank you.”

Terrie sat on the floor in front of the wheelchair. She removed Vicki’s tennis shoe and compression sock. We mentioned the blue polish on her toenails. My eyes watered (thus the blurry photo) as I watched my friend gently massage and caress Vicki’s feet and the calves of her weak legs.

I thought of the woman in the Bible—who’d been forgiven much—washing Jesus’ feet with her tears; drying them with her long hair.

Did my two friends view this foot massage as a humble, sacred moment?

I snapped a photo to remember how quickly life can change. A visual reminder that no act of kindness is too small if we want others to know that we care.

I wondered how Vicki felt, confined in a wheelchair, allowing people to feed her and massage her feet. Did she swallow her pride? Mentally beat her breast, ‘Why me, Lord?’ Or did she feel loved and cherished?

I can’t speak for Vicki—and wouldn’t share her thoughts if I knew—but I can say this.

From the time we met, this soft-spoken woman’s been a prayer warrior. I’ve seen her rely on the Lord Jesus to sustain her in previous trials, and her stalwart faith hasn’t changed.

Vicki told us that her grandson called her “a Bible-reading Grandma.” She can’t hold her Bible now, but God’s Word upholds her.

For years ago, Vicki chose to immerse herself in scripture. She learned to trust in a sovereign God long before this storm blew into her life. And by God’s grace, she will not be moved even in this.