It is September. I have been in America for nine months "getting my pancreas fixed."
Spoiler Alert: My pancreas is not fixed. And probably won't be for a long time, possibly never.
But that's ok.
No really, it's FINE.
After my gallbladder surgery, I felt great and was very optimistic...then about two weeks later the pain and nausea came back.
So I went to the doctor 47,000 more times and had 643 more tests and procedures that are too boring to write about, but gave me a million scars on my stomach.* As you can probably guess from the few sentences above, none of them worked. Each time I thought they were working for like a week or two, and then I would start to have pain and nausea again and my pancreatic enzyme levels would still be elevated.
But the good news is that my pancreatitis is mild. I can still eat, I just can't eat anything really fun. And my levels aren't high enough to be dangerous or anything. And I'm not in so much pain that I even need to take pain medicine. Basically, I'm just on a low-fat diet like a mom in the 90s.
The even better news is that all my doctors think it is fine for us to return to PNG. We will have to live on the mission center for the foreseeable future so I can be monitored just like we were doing before, but we get to go back.
Overall, I'm trying to see all the good in this and not focus on the fact that I am returning pretty much exactly the same way that I left. And even though it feels like we just wasted a lot of time and money for there to be no change whatsoever, I know that's not really the truth. The truth is that we spent a lot of time and money to have the peace of mind that this isn't something horrible and I can live with this condition with relatively few lifestyle changes.
In the process of every test and procedure only producing disappointment, a friend suggested I read "The Prisoner in the Third Cell" by Gene Edwards and it was so perfect for this season of life.
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the Messiah. John can't go himself because he is in prison for speaking God's truth to powerful people who didn't want to hear it. He was killed soon after.
Jesus' answer is-
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Jesus is performing amazing miracles in God's name, but John sits in prison. Some people are healed from terrible illnesses, but not all. A few people are raised from the dead, but only a few. There are a lot of people who are still mourning loved ones. A lot people are still blind. And deaf. There are a lot people still imprisoned unjustly. Jesus extended miraculous physical mercy and grace to some, but many more still suffered and died even though the Messiah walked among them.
Jesus tells John's disciples that anyone who is "not offended by me" is blessed. I love the way Gene Edwards describes John's struggle as it is something most of us still struggle with today.
Why won't God heal me or my loved one when I know He can?
Why did I not get the miracle that my neighbor did?
Jesus knew this would be hard for us all. For the people of His day all the way to the people of ours.
Jesus' own earthly family probably experienced this in a very personal way. Most biblical scholars believe that Jesus' father Joseph died sometime in between his first miracle of turning the water into wine and His death on the cross. Imagine Joseph dying and Jesus not doing anything. Now imagine his family's reaction to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Either before or after- it doesn't matter- it would be hard to for them to reconcile that He saved a friend but not their father. How could they not be offended? But at least one of them wasn't or was and got over it, and became the leader of the church in Jerusalem and wrote an epistle that is now Scripture. Maybe God didn't lead Jesus to save Joseph for our sake? God heals who He heals and saves who He saves and if He didn't spare Jesus' earthly father and if He didn't even spare Jesus, then how can we be offended when he doesn't spare us or our loved ones?
So even though we won't ever fully grasp why some get miracles and others don't, with our hearts of flesh, our spirits must rest in Him, have peace in who He is, and trust His will for our lives (even when it seems like His will for our neighbors' lives looks way better and we feel gypped.)
You have not been gypped. No matter what. Some may receive healing mercies in this life, but all who believe will receive them in the life to come. The one that matters. The one that lasts. So don't be offended. Take what He gives you in this life, whether it is sickness or healing or life or death, and use it for the one to come. Invest the currency He gives you today for the greatest return tomorrow.
Right now, I'm not going to be offended that I did not receive the healing that I asked for. I'm going to take this bum pancreas and invest it in the Gospel. So, we will still return to Papua New Guinea in early January and will be there as long as His will allows.
**This photo is not photoshopped. This is a very real baby with a very real knife. When I asked his mother, who is a very good friend of mine, if she thought it was dangerous for the baby to have the knife, she simply answered, "Don't worry. It's not sharp." Naturally, instead of taking the knife I took a picture to have as a record of what he looked like with both of his eyes.