For the disabled and their families, going through surgery is a common and not always easy experience. Having been under the knife eleven times myself, I can identify with what an ordeal surgery can be. No matter how talented and trustworthy the surgeon, it’s almost impossible not to worry whenever a procedure is impending or under way. We thank God for the ever-expanding blessings of medical science, and we know that the goal is to improve the person’s life, but the possibility always exists that something can go wrong. Even though we expect people to come out on the other side of surgeries changed for the better, it’s still a challenge to trust our loved ones (or ourselves) completely to someone who claims to have the expertise to get us through this moment of danger safely. We have to learn to trust that, ultimately, God watches over his children, the doctors know what they are doing, and this trial will, in the long run, work out for good.
It occurred to me recently that the experience of going through surgery, one so common to those of us affected by a disability, is a great metaphor for spiritual growth. We are sinful human beings. We all have deep-rooted flaws and imperfections in need of correcting if we are to remain spiritually healthy, and our Heavenly Father loves us too much to leave us as we are. He is in an ongoing process of molding and shaping us, making us more like His son, a process theologians refer to as sanctification . If we are in an active relationship with God, we are always laid open before Him. Every day he probes our inmost parts, working to makes us more whole and functional than we could ever have been on our own. At times, some of our most unhealthy, unholy tendencies do not respond easily to His work. Something becomes set wrong, twisted up, too tight, within our souls. At times God has to subject us to some momentary pain in order to set these areas of our lives straight. Like undergoing surgery, it is not always a pleasant experience.
I mention this now because I feel like God has been putting me through an experience of “divine surgery,” gradually revealing shortcomings and deficiencies in my own life that need to be brought more under His lordship. Since I started college, I have been stretched, altered, and shaped in many ways by the new people and new ideas I am encountering, the encouragement I am receiving from fellow Christians in my spiritual walk, and the demands of a new independence that enable me to realize my need for a growing dependence on Him. God has used this new college experience to crystalize and directly address issues He had laid on my heart for some time.
These challenges haven’t always been easy to face, but how much more we can rely on Jesus Christ than on human doctors in an operating room! We can rest confidently knowing that the Great Physician always knows exactly what He’s doing, that He always acts with the greatest skill imaginable, that He cannot make mistakes, and that He begins with an unfathomably good end in mind. It is an honor and a privilege to be made gradually more whole by the King of the universe. We ought to welcome, not shy away from, his shaping and changing work. It might be painful at times, but we will be amazed what the final result will be.