Monday, December 17, 2012
Binding the Wounded: Triumph and Tragedy
Thursday I sat in an operating room, my surgeon armed with a needle and a sonogram, seeking out cysts and systematically collapsing them. It was all good news - this collapsing of cysts - but there were still no answers to my original symptoms, and this hung over us. As my doctor moved to a new section of tissue, searching for the other suspicious cysts, he hovered over a section that appeared only grey and grainy on the sonogram.
"Stop there," he told the technician. "Zoom in." Then, "That's it!"
There, in the grey grainy screen was a grey grainy mass, perfectly circular, perfectly solid, perfectly hiding right in plain sight. The tumor that managed to avoid detection on a mammogram, an MRI, and three previous sonograms suddenly was right in front of our eyes.
My doctor's demeanor changed. Everything changed. The calm in the room changed to a flury as instruments were switched out, anesthesia was given, a scalpel produced, and the next thing I know, he is cutting the thing out.
"We have it," he said, pressing down on me to staunch the blood flow, which has poured over the side of me. "We'll send it to the lab, but I'm very optimistic." He smiled at me. "We finally found it."
Indeed, after more than a month, we had an answer.
He left and the nurse bound me up, tape in the place of stitches, followed by chunks of gauze, followed by an ace bandage so tight I could barely breathe.
"Keep this on," she said. "At least 24 hours. The compression will help you heal."
A little more than 24 hours later, I was sitting in our church watching my children in the Christmas concert, reminded by the day's tragedy in Connecticut how precious these moments are.
Our music pastor began the concert with these verses from Isaiah, and I pondered them as the orchestra played.
"Bind up the brokenhearted."
What does that mean?
The day before I'd been cut open, had part of my body taken out, and bound back up. I was in pain, even now. My skin had turned hideous shades of maroon and black and purple. There was still dried blood under the wrappings. I could not, for even a second, forget the constant ache in my chest.
But I'd been bound. And I was healing.
Tragedies like mass shootings make us ask difficult questions. Where was God when this happened? Why didn't He stop it?
I don't propose to have all the right answers, but I think we have to accept that having free will to make our own choices comes with two sides of a coin. We want to be in charge of our own lives, to make our own choices, but we want God to stop others who make bad ones. He doesn't say, "I'll let you make decisions, but only up to a point." He lets us - all of us - decide for ourselves what path we will take each day.
What He does promise is that he'll be there for us, no matter what we choose - or what others choose that impacts us.
He will bind up the brokenhearted.
Like my own bandages, it doesn't take away the pain. It doesn't stop the bruising. It doesn't reverse what happened. It doesn't keep scars from forming.
But it helps keep out infection from bitterness and anger. It helps heal. If we let Him, He will heal us.
He promised to turn our mourning into joy, our despair into praise, if we ask Him. Maybe not today. Maybe not next week. But eventually.
And that, my friends, is called Hope.
(Background watercolor by Valeriana)