Who or what encourages you when you suffer? This smiling boy, fighting polio in the ’50s, shows the relief brought by the hot whirlpool baths of that era. I remember my entire body being eased down into a larger tank and my initial aversion to the very hot water. Miss November – that is her real name, my physical therapist, talked to me until the effect of those swirling waters began to ease painful muscles and joints.
Fast forward to 2007, and my recovery from yet another spinal surgery. This operation involved incisions in my back and in my abdomen as the medical team fused eight vertebrae. I remember a particularly agonizing day after I returned home after my 8-day hospital stay.
That day, despite my pain medications, and multiple readjustments made to settle me comfortably in the leased hospital bed, nothing brought relief. The pain level hammered; I began to panic. My most frequent prayer of those four months of recovery, “Lord, it would be a mercy if you would allow your servant to sleep,” did not bring sleep that day.
Women from our church, our neighbors, and moms whose children I had taught formed a volunteer list. What an offering of grace! They fed me, cleaned house, brought meals, answered the phone, helped me get a shower. Even play a concert at the bedroom door.
I asked Rhonda to come back to the bedroom and simply read Ephesians aloud. Passages began to roll over me, body and spirit.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3
My mind next latched into 1:16. “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
Some spasms released their vise grip on my incisions. Rhonda told me later that I drifted off into a restless sleep around Ephesians 2:14.
“For he Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility..”
I share this experience not as a mere talisman for ever pain, but as an acknowledgement that anyone who suffers needs encouragement. What might you do today to encourage another?