Reshaped by God
by Shilo Harris
To this day, there are still things I think I can do in my own strength. Trusting God, asking him in faith, means you must accept the fact that God’s answer may look very different than your perception. I had to ask for God’s protection over my emotions so I might not be tossed about by the wind, unstable and indecisive. There’s a kind of balm in sympathy, and it can woo you into spiritual complacency. And the temptations of this world hit you smack in the face, wounded or not. But when you expect God to show up, he will.
I knew I would have to endure continuous procedures to heal my skin. I was going to have another operation on my hand to try to get some mobility back, and I needed laser procedures on my face. I’d been struggling with an infection in my arm for nearly two years. My nose surgeries still didn’t give me the breathing capacity I needed. The holes where my ears were would fill with gunk and constantly needed care. Chronic pain had just become a part of life.
Kat and I also had to accept that there is a kind of ongoing grief work that goes hand in hand with catastrophic injury—it involves more than endurance. It requires an attitude of gratitude. Each time I went back into surgery, Kathreyn worried about my survival, and she bore that burden for herself as well as my children. I had to figure out how to balance my emotions through the surgeries and subsequent therapies or treatments. To this day, I may not be able to feel the tears roll down my cheeks because of the scar tissue, but I know they’re there. We had to learn to give thanks for each outcome, even when it didn’t “fix” the problem. Modern medicine and technology can go only so far. How does a person learn to say, “Thank you, God, for this injury”? How do you say thank you for surgery, surgery, and more surgery?
I can tell you that at the moment of my injury, thanksgiving was not on my lips. Yet through the years of healing, I have discovered that gratitude has to be cultivated. God’s Word tells us: in everything give thanks. But does that axiom hold up when your body explodes into flame? I wrestled with these thoughts as we gathered around the dining room table for Thanksgiving in 2012. It was decked out with pumpkins and Indian corn. Turkey. Dressing. Mashed potatoes. The doors were wide open, letting in the sunshine and cool breeze. I looked at the faces of my family around the table. Our lives had changed a good bit since that first Thanksgiving Kat and I shared in Germany “before the war.” No more shoebox apartment. I didn’t have to fix a plate for Lizzie anymore. She could fix it herself. Decked out in her rodeo shirt, she was helping her mom put food on the table. As I prepared to carve the turkey, I looked at my little boy, Glen, hovering over the goodies in front of him. I realized it had become about more than gratitude . . .it was about teaching my children how to thank God for everything too.
Shilo Harris, Steel Will, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2014. Used by permission.
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