Twelve hours from the time of this writing, I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand. Please excuse any typos since I was typing left-handed, hunt-and-peck, at 1:00AM. Apparently, the medication-induced, long afternoon nap disturbed my sleep pattern. Oh, joy.
So I decided to make the most of the thoughts running through my head.
This being my fifth time under the knife, I notified East Cooper Hospital of my history of anesthetic wearing off too soon. After my first surgery at the tender age of 25, the seven-inch incision to remove my gallbladder created my greatest surgical trauma.
I awoke thrashing in pain that threatened to yank out numerous tubes in my abdomen, arms, and throat. Nurses strapped me down as I screamed. This horror gave me visions of being mortally wounded on a battlefield without meds for the pain.
Then a few years later, after my daughter’s cesarean birth, I felt the doctor sewing me up.
So this time, the pre-warned anesthesiologist made sure I awoke comfortably numb – albeit only fifteen minutes after surgery.
Before now, I’d never related to the appeal of being drugged, drunk, or stoned. God spared me the family curse of alcoholism. Instead, I’ve always preferred the high of sugar addiction (that other family curse) and the illusion of self-control. I dislike being woozy, stupid, and unsteady.
But this – this comfortably numb – just wow. I didn’t want to wake up. Drat that nurse’s gentle nudges. I didn’t care about self-control. Comfortably numb offered a whole new level of bliss.
I get it now.
And it scares me.
Feeling numb – not caring – abandoning self-control – feels really great after surgery. But it is not God’s plan for my life - or any of our lives.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8
Not coincidentally, I've recently read about being alert to vulnerability. While we must not be vulnerable to Satan’s evil schemes, God asks us to be vulnerable to Him. To trust Him for protection. To guard our hearts by being open to His word, His ways, and His leading. To be blessed by His fruits of the spirit – peace, joy, kindness, love.
He calls us to open our hearts to Him. Opening our hearts requires softening a hardened heart to one with feeling and caring and courage. Opening our hearts requires risk and vulnerability and trust.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26
When we invite God into our open hearts, He provides a comfortable numbness to offense, to shame, and to guilt. We no longer need to suffer the devastating hurt of this cold, hard world or the debilitating pain of our own sins. Rather, we have this opportunity, this divine blessing, of being comfortably numb under God’s love, grace, and mercy.
Once we trust God, truly trust Him, His love, grace, and mercy turn fear of hurt or vulnerability into faith in God’s comfort and protection. We trust that He has our very best at heart. We know that whatever we go through has a bigger, better purpose. He will use every experience, every difficulty, and every bit of suffering to make us stronger and grow our character.
Because God is even more interested in our character than our comfort.
Not to say He isn’t interested in our comfort.
While the Bible depicts saints suffering in this world, God always provides comfort through the hurt. His divine anesthetics are available for the asking. Accept this gift of comfort!
Going alone in this world only causes unnecessary pain.
Like surgery without anesthetics. We’re really not that tough. Why pretend to be and risk adverse reactions, undue stress, and possibly premature death?
Why reject God’s blessing?
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
How do a rod and a staff provide comfort? Psalm 23 begins, "The Lord is my shepherd." Shepherds carry a rod to fight back wolves - the evil enemy. They carry a long, hooked staff to guide the sheep back on a path to safety. We are the sheep, comforted by our loving shepherd who uses his rod and staff to protect us.
How else does God comfort us? He offers hope in heaven, love everlasting, and grace from guilt.
"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and
having our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22
He gives us a path, plan, and purpose to guide and fulfill us.
"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11
He assigns angels to protect us.
"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Psalm 91:11-12
So while I now understand the appeal of an artificial and fleeting version of comfortably numb, I know we find greater satisfaction in the authentic and eternal comfort that numbs the pain of this world through our heavenly father’s everlasting love and care for each of us.
After all, we have the promise of God’s glorious reward for trusting Him.
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.
Remember the great reward it brings you!" Hebrews 10:35
May you find the peace, joy, and grace of God in His comforting love.
God's Blessings to you and those you love,