So this is where I slept for eight months because I couldn’t make it up the stairs to my bedroom. When you’re young and relatively healthy you typically have the idea that things will stay that way, at least until you are very old. But one small, seemingly insignificant moment can change everything.
On August 31, 2013 I was participating in the 3 Day Novel Contest. Writing’s what I do. I was stuck, though, and needed to take a break to help me think. What I always loved to do for thinking breaks was to jump on my trampoline. So I went jumping. It was a hot day and the sun felt good on my skin as I bounced up and down. It always seemed to get my creativity flowing.
After jumping on the trampoline I came inside. I decided a snack would also be helpful. As I was walking across the kitchen I felt a sharp pain in the bottom of my kneecap. I tried bending my knee and walking it out. But it just felt worse. So I opted to ignore it. Limping to my desk, I kept working, managing to complete the project by then end of the weekend to compete in the contest.
I put ice on my knee and tried to take it easy. I thought that in a couple of days or weeks it would go away. But the pain persisted. Finally, after five doctor’s appointments, I was able to see a specialist. It turned out I would need to have scope surgery.
This process of trying to get proper medical care for the knee took months so that I was only able to have my surgery in May. During this time I could hardly walk. Every step was agony, like there were hot coals under my kneecap. After the surgery I was in even more pain than before! I could only walk with a cane because my knee was too weak to hold me up. Slowly it improved so that it was better than before the surgery. Once it had mostly healed I noticed that the sharp pain was no longer an issue. Now walking only brought mild, achy pain. I was excited, I was ready to be completely better. After sleeping for eight months on the couch I wanted to be able to walk up the stairs to my bedroom!
But the improvement slowly seemed to stop. I could do stairs but only with difficulty and pain. I walked with a limp. I couldn’t wear jeans or any other pants that pressed on my kneecap because it hurt too much. I couldn’t kneel or even squat. When I saw the surgeon he confessed that what he’d seen had been “complicated”. He told me that I might not be able to do the things I did before, ever.
I was hugely disappointed but I tried not to let it get me down. God is in the business of miracles, right? I had been asking for prayer for healing for my knee since October so I would just keep on asking. I felt very sad that I couldn’t do all the things I should be able to as a 37 year old.
Finally, on September 17, 2014, I got an answer from God. This was the prayer I wrote in my prayer journal that day:
God you know that my knee has been a real struggle in my life. I’m feeling frustrated and disappointed. I want it to get better I want to be able to run and jump again. I know I will be able to in heaven. But want to be able to keep my current house, do stairs without a problem and wear jeans and go on bike rides with the family.
Being strong isn’t important and it’s not what I want for you. You don’t get to be strong anymore.
I never made you to be strong. Be genuine. I’ll take care of you.
At first it seemed like a hard answer and I cried. I was basically devastated. Why wasn’t he going to help me? The answer was really difficult to accept and I didn’t feel peace about it.
Just a short time later I was reading the passage, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Immediately I knew this passage applied to my situation too. I had just recently come to understand the true meaning of the word grace in the Bible. So as I reread this passage it rocked my world!
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When I had read this passage before I thought God was telling Paul to give up on that request because God’s unmerited favor was to be enough for Paul – he should be satisfied with that alone and not ask for more.
No, no, no, I had it all wrong!!! Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. Christ’s charisma and power working perfectly inside Paul was enough for him! With that understanding, it makes sense that Paul goes on to say, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Who would not gladly trade in physical strength to have Christ’s power working in them and through them perfectly?
With this new understanding of my condition I can feel content… and more than that. I feel relieved and encouraged. I’d much rather have Christ’s power working in and through me perfectly than to have a fully functional knee. I want to walk more fully into God’s calling for my life and I want to make a difference for him in this world – for that I need his power. If this is what it takes to have Christ’s power operate perfectly in my life then I’m all for it! The power of Christ is made perfect in weakness and the charisma of Christ working in and through me – that is enough for me.