The doctor gave me a prescription for some pain pills, which was a good idea because the pain after the procedure was considerable. Unfortunately the pain medication didn’t seem to help me at all. I could detect zero lessening of pain when using that medication. To make things even worse it had the unusual effect of making me a little bit wired and unable to sleep. After that first night following the surgery, a very pain filled and sleepless night, I called the doctor the next day hoping they could give me something that might actually relieve the pain while also allowing me to sleep. The doctor’s assistant gave me some suggestions and after I mentioned again that I was experiencing considerable pain, she said, “Well you did just have surgery.” In other words, someone cut open your arm and dug around inside there and you should expect it to hurt some.
The obvious question this begs is, given that the surgery has resulted in considerable pain and inconvenience why would you do it? The answer to that is very simple. I was in quite a bit of pain before the surgery and my right arm was not even close to functioning properly. It had been that way for several years. I opted for the surgery because I had tried everything else and it was the only course left to me to fix the problem.
I have been reflecting on my little surgical adventure recently and it occurred to me that there is something of a parallel between it and God’s work in our lives. God is at work fixing something that is broken within us. He is making us new, restoring our hearts and transforming us into the image of his son Jesus Christ. He is performing spiritual surgery. Most of us know that there is something damaged within us that needs fixing. However, I knew for a couple of years prior to the surgery that my arm was injured. I tried everything I could find to try to fix the problem. I would do just about anything to avoid having surgery. I only opted for surgery when I had no other alternatives and the discomfort had gotten bad enough that I knew I had to do something. Most of the time that is exactly what we humans do when it comes to spiritual surgery. Though aware that we are damaged we avoid God’s spiritual surgery at all costs. We will do anything other than having The Great Surgeon do his work on us. Typically we only submit to his work when the pain forces us to do so. With my arm, in the end surgery was the only answer. And for us the only thing that will fix what is damaged within us is when God does his work. But we typically only opt for that when we have no other alternatives.
Unfortunately that is where another parallel comes into play. It would be silly to expect to have surgery that causes no pain whatsoever. Surprise, surprise, when God does his work in our lives it will involve some pain. We know that, which maybe at least in part is why we often try to avoid letting him do his work. Furthermore, this work, like my arm surgery, will likely involve some inconvenience. God may not allow us to do something we think we want to do. He may work in ways that cause us to be different than our culture and this can easily prove to be difficult at times. So why would we ever want to invite God to do his work in our lives? It is for the same reason that I invited a surgeon to cut open my arm. It is because it is the only way to repair the damage and make us whole again. It is only through God’s work that we can truly be healed in the end.