A Lesson in Humility

I recently had knee surgery.  Knee replacement surgery, to be specific.

Prior to surgery, I prepared myself.  I studied the procedure, picked up my prescription medications, made my appointments for physical therapy, and reviewed what to expect in the weeks and months following surgery.

I thought I was prepared.  But I wasn’t!

The pain was constant, and sleeplessness became the norm. For a moment, I hoped Mr. Miyagi (from The Karate Kid) would come knocking on our door and offer to rub his hands together and heal my knee. Instead, I soon realized a life lesson was in the making.

I have been relatively healthy throughout my life. Many times over the past seven decades, I have been the one who stepped in to help a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, and even strangers who may need help due to health or financial issues. Being a cheerful giver was, and is, a reflection of my Christian faith.

But what about being a cheerful receiver?

In the initial days after surgery, I became dependent on my wife.  She took on the role of a cheerful giver as she helped me dress and prepared all my meals, delivering them to me in my recliner with my elevated knee wrapped in ice.  She managed my medications and served as my drill sergeant, ensuring I did my twice-daily exercises.  All I could do was smile and say thank you.  After a hundred such thank-yous, I began to appreciate how challenging it can be to receive such loving generosity.

It was humbling.  I’m the one who is supposed to be helping.  Being dependent on the help of others is a new experience for me, and an uncomfortable one at that. 1 Corinthians 12:28 speaks of the “gift of helps.”  This gift of the Holy Spirit resides in those who provide loving assistance and support to those in need. They come alongside others and help to carry one another’s burdens.

This lesson in humility prompted much reflection on how I should respond to such unconditional love.  The obvious first step was to express gratitude to God and those who served me during this time of healing and recovery.  Tender mercies took bodily form. I am blessed to have a wife named Patrice, a therapist named Molly, a hospital nurse named Janay, and a Doctor named Meredith.  

The second step for me was a sobering reminder that I am not an independent soul.  Pride has a way of seeping into your spirit when you do good things.  But pride melts away in the presence of a spirit of gratitude.

Some of life’s greatest lessons come during times of grief and suffering.  

Because of the surgery, I have been unable to drive a car. My wife drives me to physical therapy.  Every time I step into the unfamiliar passenger seat, I am reminded that I am not in control.  God is not my co-pilot; He is my pilot.  And just as I depend on my European-driver wife to drive me to physical therapy in her Audi A3, I depend on the Lord to guide me in life.

As Christians, we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. (See Romans 8:29). And seasons of suffering, healing, and humbled moments serve as a crucible of fire to further our conforming to His image.

During such times of pain, I am reminded of the lyrics to a song titled Blessings by Laura Story.

“What if Your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

How blessed I am during such a trial to have a wife who exercises her “gift of helps” supporting and encouraging me in my physical, emotional, and spiritual healing and growth.

This unexpected lesson in humility has proven to be the greatest lesson of all.

Note:  Photo thanks to Austin Kehmeier on unsplash.com

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  1. Pete Sposaro

    Pray for your speedy healing. Had my knee replaced several years ago. I know what your going through. Take care.


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