Life & Health Theology

Meditations on Surgery III: Anticipation & Waiting

January 18, 2010

In less than 24 hours I will be having surgery to remove my colon. Today at church I was greatly encouraged by how many people came up to me to give me hugs and say that they were praying for me. I have also been swamped with calls from friends who’ve prayed for me over the phone and told me they were/are/will be praying. It is very encouraging to be covered in prayer, and to know that the church (and ultimately, God) is taking care of me.

People keep asking me how I’m doing and if I’m nervous or anxious, and to be honest, I’m not really worried at all. As I said before, I think the making of the decision to have the surgery was much harder than actually waiting for it. God has really been doing a work in my life with worry and joy (cf. Phil. 4:4-6), and he has given me a peace that I can’t always understand. So I’m not worried at all about the surgery tomorrow morning.

I know that God is faithful, and that he is sovereign. And recently, by God’s grace, I have come to peace with letting him be in control of all of my life. If he wants me to have an ostomy at 23, then I’m fine with that. If he only wants me to live a few more years, then I’m fine with that. If he wants me to be rich and famous, healthy and wealthy, married to a modern day Esther, then I’ll figure out how to be fine with even that. If Paul could say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” and Job could say, “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD!” Then I can say, “Whatever the outcome of my surgery tomorrow, however difficult, for however long, I will praise you, LORD.”

As long as I am focused on God as my object, I have no worry. But if I focus on the outcome afterwards, then I start to worry and fear things. But the fact is that I can’t control the outcome, and I have no idea what will happen — so why worry so much beforehand? Does God love me? Yes! Is God my Father? Yes! Is God in control? Yes! Will God do what is best (for me, but more so for himself)? Yes! So what do I have to worry about? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Which is awesome, since Paul commends us to worry about “nothing” in Philippians 4:6.

But Paul does say to do something: Rejoice! And not only rejoice, but share our joy with others! So that’s my prayer for this surgery: that I will not worry but instead rejoice and share my joy. And by God’s grace I’m doing that already — not because I’m anything special, but because I’m looking at the God of the universe who is sovereign and faithful, and has promised that he works “all things for good” to those who love him. I pray that he gives me the grace to continue to rejoice in him the whole time in surgery and recovering.

I also want this surgery to be for his glory. I don’t know how that exactly will happen, but life’s too short to not use this to give glory to God. Perhaps that will mean giving hope to patients around me. Perhaps that will mean being able to identify with hurting people in the future who don’t know their Creator. I personally would love to minister to the people that work at U of M — nurses, doctors, maybe even my surgeon! I’m excited to see what these weeks have in store for me! If nothing else, this has given an opportunity for my friends to be on their knees in conversation with the LORD.

So in all honesty I am doing well — very well, in regards to the surgery tomorrow! But I will be open and share that I do have fears. Honestly, I think my biggest fear in all of this is not the surgery, or pain in recovery, or different lifestyle, or having a big scar that will ruin my near perfect beach body (although that will be a travesty). My biggest fear is that I will be seen as “damaged goods” after this. That once someone knows that I don’t have a colon, that I have FAP, and that my children will have a risk of developing the same problem, that they won’t want to get to know me — that it won’t be worth the risk. I fear that people will be fine with being close friends, but won’t move any closer because I’m a walking time bomb of sorts.  I fear that I’ll have to somehow “dupe” them into loving me before they know all of this in order for them to want to marry me.

Now, when I step back and look at that fear itself, I realize how ridiculous it is. But I have to admit that it’s a real fear that I struggle with. I’m not afraid of dying or dealing with pain or difficulty my whole life — I’m just afraid no one will be willing to go through it with me. Relationships mean so much to me, but I’m afraid this will keep them from me. You see, in my mind and plan I was supposed to be married before I had to take my colon out. But God had other plans. What I’m realizing now is that my plans haven’t always lined up with his. And so when I look at this fear, I think it may be legitimate — so long as I’m living for my plans. But if I’m living for God’s plans then it’s a foolish fear. As long as my circumstances determine my joy and fear I will always lose the former and be plagued by the latter.

A very wise (and godly) man I know (named Tim Dunn) said something that has stuck in my mind for the past few months. He wrote, “God is our comforter, not our circumstances.” For the longest time I’ve really put my hope and joy in my circumstances, and they’ve always let me down. God’s been teaching me not to do that anymore — and it really works! My fear goes away when I look to God for my joy instead of a relationship. If God wants me to marry, then my colon (or lack thereof) won’t be an issue for him. But if he wants me single then even my perfect physique won’t be enough to woo the ladies…. I kid.

So there’s another scatterbrained post. This will probably be the last this side of surgery. My next post will have to be called something like:

“Meditations on Surgery IV – The Other Side.”
[I did this for you, Carrie and Catherine — there is a pun hidden in the above post title. See if you can find it. Hint: compare my previous three titles to the above title 🙂 ]

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