Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Problem Of Pain

Something happened today which has never happened in all of my years of coaching basketball- I stayed home and did not go into work at our WCS camp. I've missed several days before but it was always for something like moving my mother from a nursing home in Missouri to Kansas or a high school reunion in Nebraska. But nothing like this. For the past several days, I've had a recurrence of a knee problem which reared its ugly head during the last few days of my Vietnam mission in July of 2016. In Can Tho, it started with a twinge and steadily got worse over several days to the point I could not walk anymore. Fortunately, by the grace of God, my hosts were able to get me an appointment with an orthopedist who prescribed anti-inflammatories and pain killers. By the time I landed in Houston, I was back to normal.  This has followed the same path so closely you would think it was a  course mapped out by GPS. I woke up Tuesday with twinges which increased throughout the day. Yesterday, I walked gingerly during both sessions of camp. Last night, I did something else I'm not sure I've ever done, at least here. I was hurting so bad in our midweek Bible study that I apologized to those sitting around me and limped slowly away. This AM, I woke to my left knee being the size and shape of a large grapefruit so I called Trey Austin, our camp director, to let him know I was calling in sick, but regretfully so. Trey, as my boss, was very kind and compassionate. I'm hoping I'll be back tomorrow. The worst thing is that today was COOKIE DAY at camp!

There is some good news. After camp yesterday, a very well respected athletic trainer in Houston who has a grandchild at WCS stopped by and checked out my knee. He explained the issue which is not serious and prescribed a course of action; Aleve, ice, staying off it as much as possible. He told me it should be back to about normal by Saturday and gave me an exercise to prevent its recurrence. So, I'm not dying! Lord willing, I'll be back to normal in about forty-eight hours!

I found myself with little to do today as I couldn't take a step without hurting. The most comfortable position was laying down so I spent a great deal of time in bed. It hurts to sit in a chair but I've managed to spend some time on my laptop. Due to my mindset, I started reading quotes from a book I read when I was in my early twenties, The Problem Of Pain by C.S. Lewis. Back then, I was often baffled by his thoughts and sometimes today, I faced that same bewilderment. This quotation really hit home:

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 
Pain really does shake us out of our doldrums more than anything. Sometimes, we feel unconsciously we are due the pleasure, as Lewis calls it, which comes our way. We are simply being paid a reward for being what we consider to be good by God and we don't give that much thought to its source. But when the tough times come, we often become more prayerful, more meditative, and more conscious of our shortcomings. My pain today was trivial. I had no fever or headache. I never coughed or vomited and I kept my appetite. I simply hurt when I attempted to walk. I am confident I will return to my pain-free existence by this time Saturday.... and yet all I could think of was my discomfort. I thought of those today I know who are bedridden who would gladly trade places with me and my minor inconvenience. I remember how my dad after suffering a stroke never felt good again in the remaining eight and a half months of his life. We always use Job as an example of overcoming. I think we are at times dismissive of Mrs. Job. I'm not excusing her telling her husband to curse God and die...... but we overlook that she suffered everything Job did with the exception of the physical issues. A mother who loses all of her children without warning as well as her wealth as well as seeing her husband in a degraded state might be shown some pity for not speaking rationally. And in conjunction Lewis believed mental anguish was at least the equivalent of physical pain in the arena of endurance. All of us will go through both kinds before we leave the earth. When we do, hopefully we will use God's megaphone, as Lewis put it, to grow closer to our Lord and make changes if they are needed. In my case, they are.

Applicable quote of the day:
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.
Bob Marley

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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