“[Blessed be the] God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction”
You never change, you are the God you say you are;
When I’m afraid you calm and still my beating heart.
You stay the same when hope is just a distant thought,
You take my pain, and you lead me to the cross
I am lying on the bathroom floor. It has been hours. I don’t know how many, for time has covered her tracks. Sometime this morning I dragged myself from the bed to the toilet and survived the trauma of that process, barely, to collapse immediately afterwards on the floor unable to move. The pain. It is Day Five. My fifth day on the bathroom floor.
The doctor said the bowel surgery would be minor, a couple of days recovery, no need to reschedule plans. We didn’t arrange time off work, childminding or even a deviation in the weekend list of events. It turns out that doctors can be wrong.
Three weeks later I would be gingerly mobile enough to direct the household from the couch relying entirely on my eight yr old to produce food and meet his little brother’s demands. Pain circled me like a hospital bed curtain creating a muffled distance from their anxious faces. I snapped at noise and relied on TV to imitate normality. The family tiptoed around this uninvited guest.
Six months passed and I had progressed to the status of a walking, talking zombie who smiled in public and sobbed between school pickups. The words ‘chronic, long-term pain’ were introduced to my vocabulary as hope skulked away.
On rare trips out, friends advised: ‘Just do something about it. Have the doctor fix things. It’s his fault’.
The doctor graciously saw me eight more times and attempted two additional surgeries before conceding defeat. ‘I was free to pursue other options,’ he shrugged apologetically.
What love is this, that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess you’re always enough for me you’re all I need
In the year that followed I learned the true definition of ‘lonely hours’. I woke to pain, slept restlessly through the relentless ache, and tried to accept that we were to be wedded together. Every task felt thick with effort. Each conversation less connected than the last. My 5-year-old, with his own unique issues, couldn’t manage pre-primary. I started homeschooling. A diet was recommended to improve his health. I cooked for hours a day sitting down. Through it all, the pain throbbed as unceasingly as a metronome. I clung to the cliff’s edge as isolation settled across my shoulders like an unwanted cloak, heavy and absolute.
‘We will make it’ we’d whisper to each other across the exhausted silence of pre-sleep. ‘This will get better’. I decided I could be a courageous, joyful light in my home even as the bricks fell from the walls if I could just accept the pain and file it away. Separate myself. But I failed at even that small task. I could see no way out as the months slid away.
I look to you, I see the scars upon your hands.
And hold the truth, that when I can’t you always can.
And standing here beneath the shadow of the cross.
I’m overwhelmed that I keep finding open arms.
From my position on the bathroom floor, I cannot anticipate the year that will be. Today is Day 5. Slowly the luminescence of the frosted bathroom window fades to night, and I make the crawl from the floor into the bath. At least it feels good to be warm, and tears seem less prohibited in all that steaming water. I’m past being brave.
When the bath has been re-heated and chilled too many times to justify, I crash back onto the bed. Night circles me, I press in the earphones, hit play and crawl yet again into my Father’s arms.
What love is this that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess, you’re always enough for me
You’re all I need
Where do we go when the darkness is so absolute, so limitless, that there is no climbing out? When words and humans fail? When the jagged rockface is all there is, and voices are silent? I go to worship. To the only place where strivings cease. We climb onto the lap of our Father, allow him to cover us in the shelter of his wings and speak truth to the deepest knowing of our spirit. Until, at last, he is all we need.
Go there and find rest, find peace, find hope enough for today. Go to the God of all Comfort for only He can shoulder your pain. People ask ‘how did you get through those years?’. The answer is easy. With worship. I know no other way.
I see the scars upon your hands. And hold the truth, that when I can’t, you always can.
You’re all I need.