A blog about the life of the Balentine family: Adam, Amy, Teddy, Simon, Thomas, Peter and Goldie

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Remaining thankful in the void

Since June of this year, I’ve been experiencing a new kind of suffering.  There has been a pain in my neck, which feels like nerve pain, that I just can’t shake.  Despite pursuing several different avenues to identify, to treat and to manage this pain –it remains a part of me.  It persists like air in my lungs.  It feels like a knife in the back of my head.

The pain comes as a result of the position of my body.  If I go from bending to standing, or laying to standing, pain stabs me in the back of the head.  Sometimes it only lasts for a few seconds, and sometimes it hangs around for minutes.

This has been an incredible trial for me.  I’ve never had to deal with physical adversity quite like this.  I’ve had a couple of unrelated surgeries in the past, and dealt with getting banged-up in sports.  But this – this is different.  This isn’t “suck-it-up” or “walk-it-off” kind of pain.  This is pain that seizes you, and all you can do is moan and hope it passes.

I have had a lot of questions for the past six months – most of them dark. 
  • Is this all pointing to a major physical problem that will kill me?
  • Will this ever get better, and if so, how can I live with this?
  • I haven’t exercised for 6 months.  I’m declining physically in so many ways.  How will I bounce back, even if the pain goes away?
  • Where is God now?  Does the God of the Bible still heal people miraculously, or am I casting my hope toward a fairy tale?
  • Does anyone in the medical profession really care about my pain and want me to heal, or am I just a number?  Am I just a grain of sand among thousands of others being sifted and funneled endlessly?

“What did I do to deserve this?
    Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help?
Haven’t I wept for those who live a hard life,
    been heartsick over the lot of the poor?
But where did it get me?
    I expected good but evil showed up.
    I looked for light but darkness fell.
My stomach’s in a constant churning, never settles down.
    Each day confronts me with more suffering.
I walk under a black cloud. The sun is gone.
    I stand in the court of the conscience and protest.
I howl relentlessly with the coyotes,
    I hoot with the lonely owls.
I’m black-and-blue all over,
    burning up with fever.
My soundtrack plays nothing but the blues;
    and I hum laments all day long.”
{Job 30: 24-31 (The Message, with some personal paraphrasing)}

If I learned anything from Simon, it was that my plans are not really my plans.  I have my choices, but God remains in charge of all of space and time.  Each choice I make will build my ladder one step closer to the stars, or dig me deeper in a rut. 

So I will press on, knowing that that whether or not I am healed I am still loved.  I am loved by a sweet family and dear friends.  And the creator of universe proclaims that he loves me.  When the pain reverberates in my neck and my head, I pray that I can remember one of my favorite sentences in all of the Bible in James 4:6, “But he gives more grace.” 

I’m hurting.  I’m tired.  I’m losing hope.  But he gives more grace.
I’m feeling so guilty for lashing out at my kids because I don’t feel good.  But he gives more grace.
I don’t know how I’ll serve my team at work and stay on track with my goals when I’m running to all these doctor’s appointments.  But he gives more grace.
My eyes are open at 6 AM.  I know the first step out of bed can be the hardest and I’d rather stay in bed than spend time in prayer and Bible reading.  But he gives more grace.

I’ll remain thankful in this void.  I’ll maintain hope and light even though darkness and pain are circling me.  Because I know more grace is just around the corner, and that’s all I need.

-Adam

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