I’ve been in a full-leg brace for several weeks. I wiped out on ice, went flying in the air with my hands full and landed on the edge of my walkway step outside my home. The result was a strained and partially-torn quadriceps muscle.
The good news is that it was not a complete tear. That would have required surgery. A partial tear just means time—time to let my body do its healing as God designed it to do. The leg brace is intended to protect the injury to allow for that healing. Still ahead remains physical therapy for stretching and strengthening, and, Lord willing, a return to the tennis court.
My injury seems so minor compared to the physical ailments of others. There are people who suffer long-term, debilitating injuries. I’ve got an inconvenient boo-boo on my leg. But it is amazing to me how that little setback can consume so much of my time and drain so much of my energy—physical, emotional and creative.
Then it dawned on me, like a picture I saw of Kelly Ripa standing next to Shaquille O’Neal, how dwarfed I am by other servants of Christ. Ministers who dealt with physical affliction like polio, or emotional affliction like depression; these godly servants pressed on in faithful service to accomplish great things. Somehow they did not allow their hardship to hold them back.
Even greater was the suffering experienced by our Lord Jesus Christ. I dread a little pain. Jesus endured the cross. It loomed before Him all His life. He lived under the oppression of constant persecution. Instead of eventual relief, before Him was that cross, with all it meant physically in His true humanity, psychically as a sin-bearer, and relationally in separation from the Father.
Yet we are told that it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross—the joy of doing the Father’s will, the joy of ransoming His Bride, the joy of establishing His kingdom and so spelling the end of sin’s grip on a fallen creation.
I think that means that one way to kick hardship out as the elephant in the room, demanding our attention, is to focus on Christ and press on in the joy of the Lord as our strength. One thing I have come to see is that this temporary quad tear has come to me by my Heavenly Father to reveal my heart and to give me perspective.
I can’t imagine suffering with chronic infirmity. I can’t imagine what those reeling under the terrorism of barbarians or the oppression of government censure have to endure. But I do know this. God’s grace is sufficient for whatever He brings us to face, whether great or small, inconvenient or agonizing, short-term or long-term. In one sense, even with something that will plague us our entire lives, it is, as Paul says, “a light and momentary affliction.”