Daily Devotion for February 20, 2021

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)

I walked the hardest journey of my life the past two years.  In April of 2019 I developed crippling pain in my right hip, shortly to be followed in my left.  Having suffered chronic pain and disability with a back injury for all of my adult life, I thought I knew how to manage pain.  I learned differently.  By the time I had replacement surgeries in February and June of 2020, aggressive arthrosis left splintering bone where hip joints once had been.  Normal, daily functioning was incredibly painful, and I struggled through the time.  Recovery and rehabilitation was hard as well; two years of inertia is hard to overcome (especially since my back condition is still bad).

In addition to the amazing care of my wife, Barbara, and the attention of my son Joshua and our many friends and colleagues, my faith was the bedrock on which I lived each day.  While my body suffered, I was “made alive in the spirit,” able to do what I could even with my limitation.  It required a strength of will offered solely by Christ to shift focus from all the things I couldn’t do – all the anxiety about my future, and the severe pain that kept me from sleep most nights – to see ways to get my work done, to serve God, and to still enjoy and celebrate life.  Now, my wife and colleagues will tell you that I didn’t always succeed, but for the most part God kept me going pretty well.  I received a card recently from a group of people who marveled that I kept my sense of humor through the whole thing and helped them through a difficult time.

I emerged from pain, disability, and two surgeries to a global pandemic, having to catch up with a significantly different world, but through it all God was with me.  I better understand now “new life in Christ,” receiving a second chance at health and well-being.  I thank God daily for my baptism and my place in the body of Christ.  I am much more appreciative and grateful for a healthy body, and I am all the more motivated to give my all to support a strong body of Christ, one filled with love and grace and compassion to all.  I pray that I never again take for granted the joy of taking a long walk, spending time with family and friends, and I hope I am more empathetic with those who suffer chronic pain.  There is grace in every trial, lessons to be learned, and opportunities to grow.  By God’s grace, connected to the glorious and loving fellowship of faith, God will always see us through.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you for your strength, for your grace, and for your healing mercy.  Amen.