Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

25 January, 2007


So there I was. Ortho guy sitting in a folding chair at a particle board table in the middle of the examination room. He spoke English, so we had less trouble communicating. He looked at my x-rays, then prodded around on my foot.

"This hurt? This hurt? How about this?"


"You do not have a fracture. It is only a bruise, but it could take a month or more to heal. Here is a prescription for pain medicine."

"Oh. No thank you. It really doesn't hurt that much."

"You mean you don't want the prescription?"

"No. I can sleep at night just fine. It only hurts when I put pressure on it.... You're sure it's not broken?"

"I am sure. Here's the pain medicine prescription."

"Thanks. I'll drink lots of milk. Maybe that will help?"

"No. Only beer."

Five minutes after entering with a fracture on my heel, I left with only a deep bruise, some drugs, and a recommendation to drink alcohol. I wonder if he meant with the pills or no?

* * * * * * * * * *

I was part of a discussion recently in which we began talking about the [places in God's Word that talk about "a sacrifice of thanksgiving." I had never thought of it this way before, but thanksgiving is not a sacrifice when it is easily rendered. When all is well with life and with my circumstances, it is very easy to be thankful. God's Word challenges us, however, to be thankful not just in spite of difficulty, not just in the midst of pain of various kind, but because of those very things. How can we thank God for the pain in our lives. For the difficult people? For the unsettling of our souls by events all around us, out of our control?

I believe God tells us in his word that He sends these things to those he loves, that his children can expect them. I have had very little suffering in my life. Extremely little. Truth be told, I have probably caused much more suffering in this world than I have felt. Regardless, without fail, the result of suffering is that I learn a little more to trust our Lord and all his promises to deliver us, all his promises that he only gives his children good things. When I am wounded, I am weak enough to stop fooling myself that I can handle whatever comes my way. I learn and relearn to trust in my Saviour. Then I forget and re-forget quickly. And so on.

Last night I was in the home of an older man who has just had his second leg removed just below the hip. These days, he can sit on the couch and watch TV, and that's about it. He drinks his juice shakily and eats next to nothing. He no longer can play the piano and is too weak to hold an accordion, which he used to play for weddings. His wife and granddaughter tend to him every hour of the day. He cannot move out of his place or go to the bathroom without their assistance. In the world's eyes, this man is an invalid, a half-man, useless. In the eyes of our God, who continues to number every hair on this man's head, he is a precious child, worth the life of His perfect Son. I pray that Domnul Nicolai will nearer to our Lord in his weakness. I pray the same for myself.


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