Forty years ago today, I had my tonsils out under a local anesthetic at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. I had been suffering from severe throat infections and had been treated with penicillin for many months. Finally, it was determined that having my tonsils out was the answer. I was all too familiar with the hospital. Our family had many occasions to go there and, among other visits, my father had died in this very facility 11 months earlier, to the day. To say I was scared was an understatement.
I was so opposed to surgery that the doctor agreed to do the procedure under a local anesthetic. It wasn’t fun, but at least I was awake. Being put under was my worst fear. Fifty three minutes after the operation began, my tonsils were gone – small nodules of tremendously scarred tissue that were no longer going to be a problem. But the surgery had been brutal. The needles and numbing injections hurt, the scalpel was worse and when they cauterized my throat, I thought I would jump off the table. On hindsight, it may not have been the best choice for me but it has made for some great storytelling in the years since.
Five years later, in 1984, I needed to have my gall bladder removed. Being awake for that one wasn’t an option and so, for the first time, I was put under and had surgery during one of the worst storm days we have ever had in Indiana – when the power went out and the generators in the hospital kicked on to provide electricity. That was also a horrendous experience. I tend to scar excessively and the recovery was brutal. I was basically out of commission from Memorial Day until Labor Day of that year. I finally recovered and all has been good since then – until last year.
Last spring, I ruptured my right quad tendon and a surgical repair was the only option. It was another serious situation and although the accident happened on April 23rd, guess what day they scheduled surgery for? Yep… May 2nd – one year ago today. Who would have thought that two surgeries in my life both happened on the same day of the year.
To be perfectly transparent about it, I am a little leery today. I would like to get through the day successfully without getting injured or needing surgery. Rehab after my knee surgery was about a year and now I have another year or so to build up strength as much as I can before I will be considered totally back to normal – whatever that new normal may be. It certainly won’t be where I was before this whole incident.
I will say that the knee surgery brought a new perspective to me about medical care. It had been 34 years since my gallbladder surgery and things have improved since then. The doctors were great and although I was somewhat fearful, things turned out alright. Recovery was slow but I was through the surgery. And I dealt better with the anesthetic than I had the last time I had that experience.
As I sit here writing today, I am once again in a doctor’s waiting room – but not for me. Janet is seeing a specialist about her eyes and whether it is time for them to do some corrective work to improve her sight. She is much better than I am with surgical procedures but, nonetheless, I would prefer that nobody in our family had to go through these types of procedures. On the other hand, 100 years ago, I would have probably choked to death with my tonsils, or died with the gall bladder issue, or they would have amputated my useless right leg.
So when it comes right down to it, I am grateful for the medical advances we have seen and the ability for medical science and very skilled doctors to fix the things we have had to deal with. And while I am less scared than earlier in my life, I still worry about doctors and surgeries – especially on May 2nd…
Our verse for this evening tells us that when we are afraid, we can trust God to take care of us. Admittedly, there have been times in my life when that has been very difficult to do – but I am still healthy and I have tried to trust God when I didn’t think I could do it. How’s that for an admission? We are told by the psalmist, in Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Simple words with a much deeper implication. Because when we have God in our lives, we should be able to cast our fears and our doubts on Him. So I have never fully understood why we, in our humanness, sometimes have so much trouble trusting Him with the outcome. I suppose that is because we aren’t sure that the outcome we wish for is the same one that God is orchestrating. And how many times have I said that I want to be aligned with the will of God as long as His will is aligned with what I want!
My encouragement tonight is that God welcomes us to put our troubles on Him. Because He’s got this. It may not even be the outcome that we are looking for, but God has access to the full plan for our lives – and we don’t. My prayer is that each of us can trust God more completely than we have in the past. It’s a rare individual who can trust completely, but it is something that I, and every Christian, should aspire to. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…