Three months to the day after my back surgery, I wrote a new request in my prayer journal: heal my back pain.
It had returned. It wasn’t a new pain like my frightful experience after picking blueberries (which eventually went away). It was the old pain. The pain that had me seeking help in the first place a year ago.
But I told no one. Not at first. My family and friends had been amazingly supportive throughout my lengthy battle with a herniated disc. They brought me meals after my surgery and prayed for me. But I was sure they were as done with it as I was. So for a long time, I sat in silent pain.
Human Limits on Grace
Although we don’t like to admit it – and it’s certainly not the church answer – we have a limitation on grace and mercy, don’t we? Some of us have more or less than others. But eventually, don’t we tire of hearing of the same hurts? At least if the pain is a new one or a different one, we’d have more compassion. But the same one? Been there, done that; let’s move on.
For example: Did you have an addiction? Did you come to Jesus? But then you went back? Well, we might give you grace the second time, but after that, we wring our hands and call it discernment.
And so, I just wonder how many of us hide our pain, our hurts, our setbacks because we fear grace has run out.
The first thing I said when I shared my back pain returning with my husband was, “I didn’t do anything to hurt it.” I wanted it clear that I hadn’t hurt myself. But what if I had? What if I had done something I wasn’t supposed to do and my returning pain was simply a consequence? Would I feel undeserving of mercy and grace a second time?
Would I be met with an empty cup of grace that had already been poured out?
Rather than risk that, we hide our pain, our hurts, our struggles with sin. And we hurt in silence.
Healed, but Not Entirely
My back has improved, although I still struggle at times. But I’ve had to realize something. My back will never be completely “unbroken.” I’ve been told that once you have back surgery, your back is weak for the rest of your life. The surgery may have fixed the main problem, but at any time, the weakness can cause the same pain to arise.
Sometimes healing doesn’t take place in an instant. Sometimes healing is the result of grace after grace after grace.
With some of my own hurts, I want to stop pretending that because I have been healed, I am like new. Because the truth is, I may continue to struggle with those things. My weakness remains, and I need to feel like I’m safe admitting it.
And if I want to feel safe admitting when that same old problem rears its head again, don’t I want to extend that same grace?
I want to be the person whose grace is unending. I’m not there yet. I’ve a limited patience like the next person. But perhaps as I’m reminded of my own weakness, I’ll receive an increasing amount of mercy and grace to extend to the next fellow limper.
One Whose Grace Never Ends
God’s mercy, grace, and faithful love are never ending. His love endures forever. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that, but oh how I am grateful for those promises. Even if others’ cups of grace run dry, God’s never will.
As grace after grace continues to cover me, my prayer is that God will fill my cup so I can extend grace after grace unending to others.
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