Mandye Green: Character, perseverance and hope

No one really likes to be in pain. And we don’t really think of pain as our friend...more like our enemy.
Like this morning, when I felt a sting and looked down to see an ant biting my foot...I wasn’t a fan.
In my time at Dr. Brent Boyett’s clinic, Hamilton, where he assists patients with recovery from opiate addiction (pain pills) and chronic pain, I heard Boyett tell a story many (many) times and it never left me.
He said that he had a diabetic patient who, as is common with diabetes, had lost feeling in his feet. This loss of feeling, called neuropathy, had been going on for years, but the patient had his diabetes under control and was doing well, according to his doctor, Boyett.
The patient bought a new pair of work boots, in the same style and size he always had. He didn’t think much about it and he went to work.
The patient recounted that when he took off his shoes that evening, his toes were off-color. Again, he didn’t think anything was wrong and went back to work the next day, wearing the new boots.
Boyett said that only days later the man had to have both of his feet amputated. When Boyett showed up to the hospital to see the man who had previously been doing so well, he questioned him.
“Have you changed anything? How did this happen?” asked the doctor. The patient told him that everything was the same, except for the new boots, although he bought the same boots in the correct size.
Boyett walked over to the boots laying on the floor to examine them and when he reached in, he pulled out the paper that stores routinely stuff in the toes of shoes to keep them shaped correctly.
The man couldn’t feel the paper in his shoes and had worked multiple days with his feet in a torturous situation, without knowing it.
“To this man, pain would have been a blessing,” Boyett regularly said. “But because he didn’t have pain, he lost his feet.”
This morning, pain let me know that I was in an ant bed. Pain lets us know that something is in our eye. Or that we touched the stove. Or that we should eat.
I had surgery two weeks ago to remove a tumor on my ovary. If I hadn’t had pain, I wouldn’t have known there was anything wrong.
This was my second time having this surgery and to be honest, heading into it, I was really upset.
There are a few things we’re guaranteed in this life. Aside from death and taxes, we’re guaranteed that there will be times in life that are not simply not smooth-sailing.
In fact, Jesus told us, “In this world you will have tribulation.” It’s a guarantee.
More than that, Scripture tells us that the Lord is working everything we go through--absolutely everything--for our benefit.
As I was preparing for surgery and I wasn’t sure what kind of news I would get afterwards, I realized I was going through this either way. I can go through this surgery, full of self-pity, or I can let this situation build me, knowing that the Lord will use it all.
The Bible says that trials build our character. I know we’d all like for that to happen some other way. But when we go through something hard, suddenly we have more compassion for others who are hurting.
If you’ve ever been at rock bottom, you have compassion on others who are at the bottom of the barrel.
Those experiences make us tender toward others, more understanding and more forgiving.
Moreover, Romans says that suffering leads to perseverance, character and hope. Some of life’s experiences help us find our grit, restore our humanity and depend on the Lord in a way that we wouldn’t if we hadn’t been through something hard.
So to wrap this long thing up, pain isn’t our enemy. Now, if you’re standing in an ant bed, get out of it! But if you’re in something you can’t get out of, lean in to the Lord. He’s able to bring you out of the fire not even smelling like smoke--stronger, wiser and better than when you went in.

See complete story in the Journal Record.
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