Wisdom in the Midst of Pain…

My son endured major thoracic surgery in October. Although the bracket holding the metal bar in his chest now makes a visible and definitive lump in his skin, and he sports several scars from the surgery, only the medic alert tags around his neck give any indication now of all that happened then.

His sternum was crushing his heart.

So they cut him open and slid a metal bar inside him, flipped it, and popped his chest out.

And he spent a week in the hospital. And over a month at home recovering from pneumonia and complications.

At one point in the hospital, when the nurse let the epidural pain meds run out and searing pain began to course through my 14 year old son’s chest, he looked at me. I mean deeply looked at me, one of those looks where you perceive volumes of meaning from a single simple expression on someone’s face. What I saw nearly ripped my mother’s heart in half, and horror gripped me as I understood the depth of his pain. His mouth gaped open as he gasped in shock at the harsh cruelty of what he felt; his eyebrows raised, and he looked up at me. Our eyes locked, and in the intensity of that one moment, I ached to trade places with him. As the tears spilled onto his cheeks and silently dripped onto his hospital gown, he said, “Oh, please, mom, make it stop…” And I would have given away everything I claimed possession of in those sluggishly passing seconds to help him.

And there were moments during that week where I prayed for Wisdom when I didn’t know what to do, what questions to ask, what decision to make… And then I “somehow” just knew things I couldn’t possibly otherwise know, asked questions that fettered out hidden information, and made decisions that were absolutely the right ones.

And as I read through Proverbs 8 today, I am grateful. That period of time, not so long ago, where I walked alongside this young man who struggled with “the most painful surgery we do at Children’s Hospital,” endured complications, and yet actively chose to wean himself off of narcotics, even with significant pain remaining…well, it all came back to me in full force as I read the endorsement of the pursuit of Wisdom in Proverbs this morning. I have been reading a Proverb passage for the date for over ten years, but there have been few times like this in my life, when Wisdom (and the intense comfort that comes with it) shows itself this clearly.

Over the course of those two months, I “just knew” stuff I couldn’t know.

For example, I remember “knowing” when a prescription hadn’t been given that should have been. I remember “knowing” which drugs would interact with each other. I remember “knowing” about an allergic reaction before it happened. And what to do and what not to do.

And when a nurse did something he wasn’t supposed to…but that’s another story.

I met a woman in the radiology waiting room over the summer. She looked exhausted. So did her son. “How old is your boy?” she inquired. “He’s 14. Yours?” “He’s 12. He has cancer.” We talked for a while, and he fell asleep sitting up. His name was called before ours. She woke him and they left. I’ve often thought of her and prayed for her and her son since that day.

I’ve wondered. I know how I was challenged while walking through this. I know how many arrow prayers I shot up back then to rid my heart from fear. I remember how I fought the temptation to become stressed…and I wondered about those who have thinner relationships with God who have a sick child.

I wondered about the mother of the 12 year old boy with cancer and how that defines everything they do. I wondered how many nights has she sat up holding his hand while he cried out in pain, knowing the doses on the pain killers were maxed out already? How many tears has she cried, feeling helpless to do anything for him? How many times has she cried out to the Almighty to take her instead, or made deals or promises in exchange of healing?

I wondered how many of these women come to know God on a deeper level only because of their child’s suffering. I am so thankful for greater depth as well, but it is not bred out of desperation, but rather the pursuit of His wisdom, comfort and strength in the midst of my own son’s pain.

I also know three things from this experience:

  1. God holds ALL our tears (in a bottle, collecting them, actually – Psalm 56:8) as He holds us through the trials He allows.
  2. Our family is tremendously blessed. We had an end in sight, this side of heaven, one that even though riddled with complications, was over sooner versus later. Some parents’ children find relief from their pain only in heaven. It is for them I pray tonight, humbled to tears with gratitude for all He has given us.
  3. God rewards those who pursue Wisdom with blessings of knowledge and the comfort that comes with that knowledge. I also know if we don’t pursue it, and He’s growing us (see more on how He transforms us here).

And I am thankful for Wisdom. As we pursue Him, His Spirit fills us, and as Proverbs 8 tells us,

32 “Now therefore, O sons, listen to me,
For blessed are they who keep my ways.
33 “Heed instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect it.
34 “Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
35 “For he who finds me finds life
And obtains favor from the LORD.

So I dare you to read all of Proverbs 8 by clicking on it, or getting out your own Bible. And I double-dog-dare you to commit to joining us daily, maybe by subscribing by email above. We won’t share your address with anyone – I promise. J

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I am happy to be on this journey with you. Not just happy, actually, but privileged.


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