Focus: Finding purpose in pain
Romans 8:37 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
I experienced a lot of pain during the recovery of a traumatic head injury in a car accident that happened when I was 21. I felt robbed in many ways—due to the facial disfigurement that resulted. Today, not many people would ever guess my nose was totally smashed and my cheekbones were covered with fractures. Reconstructive plastic surgery gave me a new, smaller nose.
In most people’s minds, I had nothing to complain about. Surely, other people have had much harder things to bear—and that’s true. I don’t have a debilitating handicap like some people, but I’ll never forget the stares from people during the period of time it took for the jagged scars on my nose to heal and for the swelling and bruises on my face to go away.
During the year following the accident, my sinuses progressively shut down, because my fractured cheekbones were over-calcifying in an attempt to heal. More surgery had to be done to open my airways so I could breathe normally again. It took a long time for me to accept my appearance…and it was hard dealing with people who said I didn’t look that bad. To me, it wasn’t a question of ‘looking good or bad’—it was my own loss of identity that I was dealing with.
Close to a year after the accident, I had the opportunity to go to a foreign country and spend a little time with a man who was clearly poverty stricken. He wore a soiled patch of cloth tied around his head to cover the fact that he had no nose at all. I was sure that God had arranged our meeting. It was completely obvious that he had it so much worse than I did.
From that time on, I tried to accept what had happened to me and be grateful in spite of everything. Up until then, all I could see was what I had lost—instead of what I still had left.
I have to admire our many veterans who went off to war and have come home forever changed, whether their injuries are visible or invisible. I can’t help but look at any soldier who has seen active duty and not wonder what trauma he or she is working through. Just because you can’t see any physical change in them, doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering emotionally because of what they may have witnessed.
Just because an injury can’t be seen—or isn’t as bad as it ‘could have been’—doesn’t mean it wasn’t and isn’t catastrophic to the individual. Any injury is serious to the person who receives it. Post-traumatic stress syndrome and panic attacks are common and potentially devastating to people who have experienced a violent physical injury—and also to those who have been forced to live in highly dangerous circumstances and observe others being wounded or killed.
It’s hard to understand why we have to go through some of the things we do in life. It might be harder still, to believe that a loving God would allow anybody to live through some of the things our veterans have. I don’t have all the answers—but I know that God can help any person to find peace.
If you’ve had some kind of traumatic experience—war or otherwise—you might still be trying to figure out how you’ll ever be able to live a normal life again. For many people, things will not return to ‘normal’ in comparison to the past…but life can go on, by drawing new strength from the power of God.
Jesus Christ, Who according to historical record, was tortured to the point of being unrecognizable as a man preceding His brutal crucifixion—is a model to any person who is struggling from the effects of disfigurement and trauma. His resurrection from the dead and His glorified body, can give us the hope that one day—we will be like Him.
Philippians 3:20-21 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
There were times I wished I had died during the aftermath of my head injuries. It took a few years before I felt like living was actually a good idea. I know God had a purpose in letting me go through what I did. He has given me peace, and He can help you, too.
Declaration: I will find peace and purpose as I draw new strength from the power of God. His love and friendship will see me through my trials day by day…and someday I will understand.
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