It was a mild, sunny afternoon in February as I began to prepare dinner. Needing fresh spinach, I stepped outside to my garden and stooped down to pick the deep green leaves. As I bent, I winced in pain. Picking every leaf for the night’s dinner was sheer agony.
Tears welled up in my eyes, not from the pain, but from the realization. If my back doesn’t get better, how am I going to garden this season?
More than a Hobby
Although only in my third year, gardening has become part of my soul. I can’t imagine life without it. The thought of not being able to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs this season devastated me.
At the time, I was going through physical therapy to try to remedy my lower back issues. The next time I saw my physical therapist I told her about my spinach breakdown and begged, “Just please help me get where I can garden.”
Over the next several weeks, I saw improvements from the physical therapy. I could stoop without as much pain. My hopes for a full season of gardening returned.
When Fixing the Symptoms Isn’t Enough
But although bending over had become easier, my pain had actually begun to increase. No longer was it limited to mobility but now I agonized every time I drove or sat. After trying various other therapies, my physical therapist referred me back to my physician.
Two months later, I am two days away from having back surgery, counting them down because the pain has become almost unbearable.
Looking back at my request to my physical therapist, she was able to get me where I could garden. In fact, gardening is one of the few activities that doesn’t hurt anymore. But overall, my pain is worse than ever. She was able to treat one of my symptoms, but my underlying problem hasn’t been fixed.
Symptoms of a Diseased Heart
In another area of my life, I’ve been dealing with hurt. Over and over I’ve prayed for God to guide me to healing, help me let go, or whatever was needed. I just wanted to stop hurting.
As I was praying about it one day, I realized this hurt was only a symptom of a deeper problem in my soul that had nothing to do with what I thought was the source of my pain. Sure, God could do his thing with this relationship, but my underlying problem would remain unchecked. It would grow and pervade other areas of my life. Like an unrestrained disease, it would cripple my heart and other relationships.
Finally, I accepted that this hurt was merely a symptom of a deeper problem in my own heart, and I could be open to healing–a metaphorical open-heart surgery. Once I surrendered, peace began to come. The circumstances haven’t changed, but my deeper problem is in the hands of the ultimate Healer.
A Deeper Healing
I wonder how often we approach God asking him to take away that which is merely a symptom of a deeper problem. We wonder why He doesn’t fix it. Perhaps if we can see that we have an underlying problem, we can open our hearts to that deeper healing, one that only He can provide.
Is there a pain in your life that God isn’t taking away, despite your prayers? Perhaps He wants to show you that your pain is a symptom, and He wants to do a deeper, lasting heart-healing.
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