Have you ever really like something, and it was taken away from you? You tend to do whatever it takes to get it back, right?
I was running the 2010 Paris Marathon, reached mile 6, and my knee just wouldn’t let me continue. The stabbing pain and stiffness said “no” to 20 more miles. So, I saw my doctor when I returned home, had imaging done, and was told I had torn my meniscus.
The meniscus is basically a shock absorber and my tear weakened the cushion it normally provided when I walked, knelt, went up or down stairs, or when I ran. I became an avid runner to lose weight, but grew to enjoy it after I was logging 5+ miles on my runs. So, not running was not an option.
Fortunately, I saw a German doctor (I lived in Germany at the time) who didn’t believe surgery was the best option. He sent me to physical therapy, shock therapy (yeah, it’s a thing), used kinesiology tape (great stuff!), injections (not great stuff to endure), and made me build up my leg muscles for over six months.
The theory is that if you build up the muscle tissue, the ligaments, and increase the circulation around the injury, it aids the blood supply to the region (which is needed for healing) and protects the tear while it either heals or scars over. For me, it did the latter and I ran the Munich Half Marathon in 2013.
Here’s the thing, though, there was a lot of homework – meaning I had to do a lot of the exercises I did twice a week in the physical therapist’s office at home almost daily. I had to protect, rest, ice, compress, and elevate (PRICE*) my knee often. My lifestyle changed, and I limited my walking and increased my biking.
I won’t lie and say it was enjoyable, but training for and finishing the half marathon was worth it. It was worth the pain, struggle, and tears when I just wanted my knee better now, but had to wait till it was strong enough; it was worth the painful injections to build the fluids around my knee; and it was worth the 2 ½ years it took for me to build my distance.
You know what else is worth pain, struggle, tears, and waiting?
Waiting for a loved one to beat an addiction, stop committing the same sin over and over, or heal from wrongs they’ve done or had to done to them. No matter how much time it takes, no matter how many long nights of prayer or long fasts, and no matter the struggle, tears, and pain, it’s all worth it in the end to fight for those you love.
Those loved ones are like my meniscus – they need others to come around them, build themselves up so they can protect the one sinning, failing, or hurting, so they have time to heal, be delivered, repent, or turn to God.
We, as the body of Christ, must take our place as the supporting muscles that protect injured Christians. Giving up, getting frustrated, and accepting “you can’t run anymore” is not an option. It looks a lot like someone leaving the witnessing part to the preachers – or someone who doesn’t read the Bible because they “don’t get it” – or someone who doesn’t share the Gospel with others because they’d rather sit on the couch and binge something. Our commission is to “Go into all the world”, so we must do the exercises needed to build our spiritual muscles.
Read your Bible. Pray. (It’s a two-conversation, so listen, don’t just ask for things.) Serve. Believe. Fellowship and build up other believers.
Be the support, bear the weight, and show Christ to those in need. You’ll find the entire Body of Christ, the Church, will return to running the race set before them when you do your part to heal those injured.
*PRICE – Do you know how Christians PRICE? They protect their fellow believers while they are down. They rest in the promises of Jesus and don’t get anxious or impatient with their sister or brother in Christ. They ice the injury. The Bible says that a husband is to cleanse his wife by the washing of water with the Word. As Christians, we must speak the Word and not words of condemnation, so we reduce the pain associated with their injury, just like ice does. They compress to prevent swelling – which just means they wrap themselves around the person by prayer and fasting. And they elevate – not the person, but God in the person’s life. When we lift God up, it encourages and allows the guilt, condemnation, and sin to flow back under the blood of Jesus in the person’s eyes, so they can experience true deliverance and healing.
(James 5, Ephesians 5, Psalm 34:3, John 12:32)