The Disastrous Aerial
Several years ago, I broke my tibial plateau. We reference it as breaking my knee, but the kneecap itself was unaffected. Basically, it was a radial fracture, which my orthopedist called impressive, caused as a result of one of my skis not releasing when I fell. I’m told the aerial was beautiful; just the landing needed a little work.
In addition to pain management and lots of doctor appointments, recovery meant no weight bearing for 4 months, the use of crutches and a wheelchair, the use of a continuous passive motion machine (a.k.a. torture device) for 8 hours a day, every day, for over a month, and lots of physical therapy appointments.
The Struggle of Learning to Walk Again
Physical therapy, as you can imagine, was less than pleasant; dare I say difficult. Measuring range of motion and working to rehabilitate my knee was a major undertaking. Once we could start working towards walking again, I was faced with the fact that my brain and leg muscles had temporarily forgotten how to cooperate. Then came using a walker, walking backwards, etc. There were days it was a struggle!
In the course of working with clients, sometimes I run into the thought pattern that being happy is the ultimate goal, and therefore, struggle, any struggle, is a curse. But , this perspective is an incomplete, egocentric, selfish, and unbiblical outlook.
Is Struggle a Curse?
I will concede that not all suffering has a purpose; some of it truly is a curse sent from the Destroyer to torment. However, God has the power to redeem suffering. The Bible says we can have joy, but happiness is not promised. The Bible also discusses suffering. For the joy set before Him, Christ endured or suffered the cross. For the full text, see Hebrews 12:2.
The belief that any and all suffering is a curse is based on the fact that there is a cost and pain involved in the process. Sin brought the curse of painful childbirth and toil to produce from the land (Genesis 3:16-17). Salvation does not suspend the consequence of sin while we remain in our physical form on earth.
Sin brought death and disease, and from this perspective, suffering is indeed a curse. However, what about the joy of the child that is born or the fruit (or vegetables and grains) of one’s labor in the field that provides sustenance that comes from enduring the suffering? Or even the butterfly that endures the struggle of the chrysalis, the bird that is strengthened by working out of the egg, the character that is molded in the tumultuous circumstances, and ultimately the salvation that was provided by our Savior enduring the torture of the cross and conquering death? It is hard to defend the argument that any and all suffering is bad when you look at these examples.
Observing the instructions of my doctors was inconvenient. It was difficult to get around the house. It was hard to sleep on my back with my leg strapped into a machine. Not being independent was a hassle, however, the consequence of not enduring and following the prescribed course of action could be that the fracture would deepen and create a full break requiring surgery. That would mean beginning recovery time over again. No thanks.
One visit my PT said, “We’ll keep working to get you back out running and enjoying the outdoors.” I quickly informed him that my goal, what made this worth it to me to keep pushing through the pain and suffering, was the potential of being able to wear my cute high heel shoes again.
You can attempt to avoid as much struggle as possible, but is that truly in your best interest? Are you sacrificing growth or improvement by doing so? If you look at your struggles more closely, is there a reward on the other side of enduring?
I had to struggle to walk again, but I wouldn’t classify the effort as a curse. There was a reward waiting, even if it was just balancing on a cute pair of shoes again as I walked.
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