Sometimes It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better: Thoughts on Easter
“You see, there are two very different types of hope in this world. One is hoping for something, and the other is hoping in Someone.” ~ Pete Wilson
How can we celebrate Easter when we are overwhelmed with everyday questions?
I didn’t see it coming. I went to bed like I always had, ate dinner with my chopsticks and brushed my teeth just fine.
The next morning, I got dressed and drove into work as usual. Logged into my account and started checking my emails. I started typing.
Needles of pain shot through my wrists. My fingers felt numb and tingly, like they’d fallen asleep. Confused, I tried to mouse and click around. My forearm started hurting even more.
My fingers refused to hit another keystroke.
Two hours later, I found myself sitting in front of a doctor who specialized in treating work related injuries.
“You won’t be going back to work for a while. You have RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury). Might be carpel tunnel syndrome. We won’t know yet, until you get some therapy.”
How long will I be out? I asked, thinking a day or two.
When it all was said and done, combining full and partial disability, my road to recovery took nearly three years.
Getting Better Or Getting Worse?
When I first started physical therapy, I was very optimistic. I was determined to heal fast. Take my meds, get my therapy, do my exercises and wear my wrist braces.
The problem was healing isn’t a linear process.
I was progressively hurting more week after week. My pain extended to my upper arms, my shoulders, neck and even my back. Was I just falling apart?
My physical therapist Tom educated me.
You’re actually getting better, even if it feels like you’re getting worse.
Tom drew a swirl of concentric circles on his note pad.
He said that healing is like peeling an onion. He said that I had ignored the fatigue initially in my muscles so well, that it caused my body to compensate in other areas.
Pain, Tom explained, was a healthy indicator that my body was finally speaking to me.
My path to recovery was to swirl out first — to understand exactly how far my injury went. Tom gently pointed out that as one muscle group got better, I would start feeling the pain in other areas that had been masked on top of the other.
I have found myself in the same condition for many Easters.
I wanted so badly to celebrate the joy of Easter Sunday resurrection, I ignored the layers of stress and unanswered questions from my everyday life.
Don’t get me wrong, I was filled with joy for Jesus on Easter Sunday, in praise and thankfulness for the sacrifice and love He poured out for me on Good Friday 2000 years ago. I am always brought to tears meditating on the suffering our Lord endured emotionally, physically and spiritually by taking up the cross. But, I was often heart heavy waiting to taste the power of resurrection in some difficult circumstances.
It seemed whenever I thought of Easter, I thought only of Easter Sunday — the celebration of resurrected life — or Good Friday — the death Christ suffered on the cross. I never thought as pastor and author Pete Wilson points out in Plan B, of the Saturday in between:
“Saturday… It seems like a day when nothing is happening. It’s a day of questioning, doubting, wondering and definitely waiting…helplessness or hopelessness.
Is it possible that Saturday is actually a day of preparation?
… Saturday was the day God was engineering a resurrection.”
My One Thing
This year, I’m celebrating Easter Sunday with a lot of my story resurrected from my “Saturday” life. Not in a way where everything has worked out. A lot of the questions I’ve been asking for a very long time haven’t been answered. In fact, some of the problems I’ve asked God to solve haven’t gotten better. But, I have learned one thing through my time in this extended season of waiting.
That one thing is this: Jesus’ love continues to be one thing I can always say yes to.
In lieu of answers and resolution, I had to continually make a choice. Do I let my pain and hurt shape my faith — or do I take my faith and run into the arms of Jesus?
This has been my greatest joy: I have been able to choose love — because Love chose me.
I’ve been able to find when I couldn’t possibly wait any longer in dissonance and lack of closure — the love of Jesus continues to heal me, carry me and attract me to Him. I can continue choosing to love God, love others, and pour myself out, even in weakness and imperfection.
All because Jesus loves me. Because of the cross.
I had given up hope of ever getting better.
Then I got up one day, not feeling any pain. It left me, just as it came. Suddenly.
It took me many years to get to that one morning. I will always remember who got me through it.
It wasn’t hope in recovery. It was hope in Jesus.
I don’t know how long our Saturdays will last. But one thing I do know, Jesus has walked that Saturday into eternity for us. His love will never leave us and His love will get us through to our Easter Sundays.
“The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
~ 1 Peter 5:10
What does Easter mean to you this year?
*Today’s post is part of a new April series — Discovering New Joy. Check out our topic for today and next week’s new topic!
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