I still remember the surgeon coming in to explain the thorocotomy to me. He then asked, "Do you give permission for us to do this surgery?"
"What if I don't have the surgery?" I wanted to know.
"You'll die," came the cryptic answer.
I had to laugh. "Well, that narrows things down a bit!"
That was five years ago, and I would really rather not experience that whole chain of events, including 14 days in the hospital, 9 of them in ICU, again anytime soon. Or rather, ever.
However, as I seem to be feeling the odd progression once again of stomach troubles, "crunchy" cough and deep left shoulder pain, it seems I need to go to the doctor and make sure I'm not headed down the pneumonia trail again (if you think stomach upset and shoulder pain are weird symptoms for pneumonia, you're right, but I don't ever seem to get the "normal" symptoms of things--I'm not trying to be dramatic; it just happens!).
Tonight as I researched symptoms and such, I once again faced the now-familiar flood of fear and worry. It happens anytime my condition flares up. I'm not as surprised as I used to be by it, but it still bothers me. Is my faith so small? Do I only trust God when I'm feeling good enough?
But a verse that I have memorized has just changed that for me. I know the words by heart, but the full meaning had never really hit me until tonight. Here's the verse, from Hebrews 4:15:
We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
I focused on the temptation and not sinning part. But I missed something significant. God is talking about feelings. Not just the temptations to acts of sin, but the temptations that come from feelings. "Feelings of our infirmities" to be exact.
I know a few things about infirmities. Like how when my body is weakened, my heart and emotions are more vulnerable as well. Like how when I am in pain or medical crisis, I'm not usually faced with temptations to acts of sin like stealing or gossiping or lust (though I am tempted toward gluttony as my steroids make me VERY hungry!). My temptations are inward ones. The temptation to fear, to worry, to give in to anxiety or anger or even bitterness. The temptation to envy people who are healthy.
I never really placed those things into the temptation category so much. They come every time I have a flare up, but I guess I always saw the onslaught of them as something I already failed.
That needs to change. Jesus says He understands. He knows what it is like to feel physical fatigue and pain, much more so than I ever will, and all the inward temptations that come with it. He was tempted to fear, to worry, even to envy. Yet He did not sin.
Because He knows, and yet did not sin, He can teach me how to face these temptations without sin as well.
So next time (which will probably be very soon since it's past midnight and I can't get to urgent care till the morning) those feelings arrive, rather than welcoming them with resignation, like annoying, unwanted visitors, I can see them for what they are. Not sins yet, but temptations. And like my high priest, who is touched with compassion for pain, I can resist them and overcome them.
To know that Jesus Himself knows, cares, and is not only ready to listen to my infirm feelings, but also to pray for me, that is victory already!
What are the feelings of your infirmities that you may have not seen as temptations before?