Thirty seven years ago last Tuesday, on May 2, 1979, I had my tonsils removed – under a local anesthetic. Admittedly, if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t make the same request of the surgeon. Watching them operate on me, and the pain associated with the process, was rather intense and Janet could tell that I was in shock when the 56 minute procedure was over. In fact, she said I was so pale that I looked dead. I don’t ever recall that she has said that about me any other time during all our years together.
The backstory is that I had been very ill for most of a year – with an extremely painful sore throat. I had never experienced anything like this before in my life – but this HURT! I was on massive doses of penicillin, but it couldn’t knock out the infection. Finally, the doctors concluded that I had such severe scar tissue in my throat that the only way to handle my problem was to have surgery and remove my tonsils. I had been hospitalized, in isolation no less, and was also on huge doses of steroids.
The story got complicated when I realized that surgery had been scheduled in the same hospital where my father had died 11 months earlier, to the day. I was still in something of a fragile state from that experience and didn’t want to be put to sleep for my procedure. The surgeon agreed to do it under a local and I remember every single moment of the surgery. From when I entered the operating room and sat in something like a dental chair, to the shots of local anesthetic in my tonsils (that hurt!) – then the scalpel cutting the inside of my throat (that hurt even more!) to the doctor cauterizing the open wounds in my throat when he was done removing each tonsil (that hurt more than I can describe!).
Finally, 56 minutes after they started, it was over. On hindsight, it was kind of scary. They didn’t even have an IV in my arm in case a problem developed and they had to put me out. I won’t go into detail, but the procedure was pretty intense. And even though I was on morphine for the pain, I was absolutely wide awake and alert during the entire procedure.
Even the nurses were a little freaked out that I had chosen this option. And in case anybody is thinking about following in my footsteps, I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. When they wheeled me back to my room, I was flushed white – and exhausted… It took everything I had to get through the surgery and I had nothing left to fall back on. It was draining – physically (it hurt), mentally (I had to concentrate to respond to the orders of the doctors), emotionally (I was afraid of dying) and my spiritual life was not nearly as healthy as it has become over the years.
I don’t remember praying before the surgery, for me or for the doctors. I know I was relying on men and women – not on God. Should I ever have to go through that again, I like to think that I would be more peaceful – entrusting everything to God. I don’t know that for sure but I like to think that I have matured that much in my faith. But let me be clear about this – I am no fan of surgery or of hospitals – or doctors in general. I have a real “fear” of being in a position when I have to rely on others for my health concerns.
And those of you who know me realize that I hate to not be in control. I know this sounds a little crazy, but it’s the truth. Our verse for tonight is a little long, but great advice from the good Dr. Luke. He tells us the words of Jesus, the author of tonight’s verse, in Luke 12:25-31, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
Wow! Great words that I wish I would have known back in early May, 1979. And words that I hope you will take to heart. My encouragement tonight is that God does care for each of us as we were told by Jesus and recorded by Luke. My prayer is that when you are overwhelmed by your circumstances, you will remember that God is in control and that you will have the presence of mind to turn your fears and concerns over to him… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…