My 12-year-old daughter and I waited in the exam room. She had injured her back during an impressive, but over zealous run on an inflatable obstacle course, and she needed help for the pain. We were doing what we always do in exam rooms when we are forced to wait: spinning on the doctor’s rolling stool and blowing up latex gloves. Mature, I know.
We stashed the gloves in my purse when we heard the doctor rifling through Hannah’s chart outside the door. We suppressed our giggles and put our conversation about which Starbucks drink was our favorite on hold when he opened the door. That’s when we heard it for the first time.
“Did you know your daughter has scoliosis?”
Um, no. And, to be quite honest, I didn’t really believe his diagnosis. Surely he had made a mistake…viewed someone else’s X-ray. After all, Hannah’s back looked straight. Maybe he was a newbie to the whole “doctoring” thing. Nevertheless, tears filled my eyes as I looked at my daughter’s face. No one ever wants to hear unsettling news from their doctor, and I was watching my daughter respond with silent questions and fear. Our laughter-filled morning had taken a drastic turn as we received recommendations for specialists and a copy of the X-ray.
Over the next 3 years, Hannah visited an orthopedic surgeon every 4 months. Each visit revealed that her spine had continued to curve. Each visit began with laughter and blown up latex gloves, but ended with more tears and fear. She (and I) had so many questions. Why was this happening? Why her? Why wouldn’t the curve simply stop? Eventually, the doctor recommended a brace for Hannah to sleep in the hopes of slowing/stopping the progression of the curve, but not even a hard, plastic shell could stop it.
Here’s what was most baffling: she looked great. I mean, really great. Her back was straight. To the naked eye, she looked almost perfect. Visually, nothing was wrong. But a closer look….a look beneath the surface….revealed a much different story. X-rays showed a drastic curve that threatened to harm Hannah’s health. (There’s a brilliant parallel to our spiritual lives in those last few sentences. Looking good on the outside doesn’t always indicate health on the inside. I hope you’re paying attention.)
Eventually, surgery became our only option, and Hannah, at the age of 15, endured the most difficult, painful experience of her young life. A 4.5 hour surgery and a 4 day hospital stay – along with a 6 week recovery at home – has ended her battle with scoliosis. Now she is healthy – inside and out. The healing process has required so much from our whole family….constant medication, assistance getting up and laying down, help with school work (I now know far too much about 9th grade biology and literature), and ongoing encouragement to help her endure. Those things required all – and I mean every bit – of my time, energy, and attention. Helping my daughter recover….helping her win….was the only item on my to-do list for the past 6 weeks.
Thankfully, Hannah is doing extremely well. She has survived the worst of the pain (of which there are so many stories to tell) and is growing stronger and healthier each day. Over the course of the next 9 months, Hannah’s back will be fully healed and she will enjoy any activity she wants.
Amazing, really. Medical technology can correct a harmful condition and eliminate any lasting effects.
I know Someone else who can correct harmful conditions and eliminate any lasting effects. I know Someone who can take a person that looks good on the outside but is dying on the inside and can bring health and vitality again. I know Someone who can help a person endure. I know Someone who can heal.
He is able. Maybe you aren’t dealing with scoliosis, but you are messed up on the inside nonetheless. My God can help. No matter who you are God can make you healthy on the inside….in your soul. But, there’s a catch. You must endure the process. Healing might require a bit of pain. It might require discipline. It will certainly require support and encouragement from other Christians. But, trust me, on the other side of the process is the reward of a contented, peaceful heart.
My sweet Hannah has endured the process of physical healing, and while it certainly hasn’t been easy, it has been worth it. Spiritual healing works the same way. Whatever spiritual struggle you’re facing today, take heart. The difficult process of healing with bring great, lasting rewards!