I had a patient tell me recently that he felt like he was the recipient of a miracle.
At first I viewed him with skepticism. Miracle? Maybe the recipient of a normal biological process. Perhaps incredibly fortunate at most.
If he had credited his recovery to his highly skilled surgeon, then maybe I would have believed him. But he didn’t.
But the more I thought about it, though, I realized he is right.
Miracles do happen.
The Broken Leg
My patient had fallen from the 2nd floor of his barn. Eighty-five years old and still farming. Perhaps the first miracle in the story.
He had fractured his femur, the thigh bone. When the femur breaks, life becomes incredibly difficult. Some use the world miserable.
Before having surgery, there is little that can be done to ease the pain. If you break your wrist or your ankle, it is easy to apply a splint to temporary stabilize the broken bone. If you break your femur, a splint doesn’t work.
The Remedy and The Rehab
I fixed his broken leg the next day. To me, it wasn’t a miracle. It was just the standard of care. A procedure done in this country hundreds of times a day.
I placed a large titanium rod down the center of the bone. Screws go through the rod at the top and the bottom holding the broken bone in place. Giving the stability it needs to heal.
The surgery helps with the pain immediately. The bone ends are no longer free to move. No longer free to grate against each other or to stab the muscle. The pain isn’t completely gone, but it is significantly better. It changed to a healing pain.
The surgery is done, but the healing process is only beginning. My patient needed to rehab his leg. With the rod holding the bone in place he could start moving again. He could sit up in bed. He could get to a chair. With time, he was able to walk again.
Walking was painful. His muscles had weakened with inactivity. With time and work, the muscles grew strong. But it didn’t happen all at once.
At first he used a walker, and gradually a cane. With time, his body healed enough and he is able to put weight on the leg again. Eventually he carried the cane just in case. A security blanket.
Today my patients walks without a limp or a cane. He is back in his barn throwing hay. Feeding animals. Perhaps the second miracle.
My Broken Heart
The most important reason to put the rod in the mans leg ‘s to allow it to heal. The rod helps his broken pieces to grow back together. To become whole again, over time.
The entire process reminds me of what Jesus does for us. We are a broken people, our hearts shattered to pieces. Sometimes the brokenness seems to happen suddenly, like falling out of the barn. Sometimes it happens a little bit at a time.
How broken bones heal makes sense. There are cells and blood vessels and osteoblasts and the metal rod. But Jesus heals our brokenness in a way that titanium and screws can’t. I don’t completely understand what Jesus does to us, but it is good.
Some say we have a broken heart, a dead one. But I think it’s more like having a broken femur. We talk about God taking out the dead heart and giving us a new one that is alive. I understand the analogy, but the picture suggests that in an instant our hearts are as good as new. They are healthy and disease free. Healed.
My heart is anything but new. It is better, but I still feel the brokenness.
I don’t understand broken souls. But I do feel the results. I feel the pain of betrayal and loss. I feel the pain of sickness and sadness. I feel anger and revenge.
I felt it yesterday and I feel it today.
Perhaps our sins are forgiven, and we becomes sons and daughters of God in an instant, but the pain I feel from my own brokenness isn’t completely gone.
The Remedy and Rehab for Our Souls
To me, what Jesus does to us seems more like this man’s healing bone. There is the initial event, the surgery to hold the pieces in place to allow healing. But the actual healing takes time.
The pain is better, but not gone. The brokenness stabilized, but not completely healed. There is the need for a walker because we still limp. There is the need for exercise and therapy because we are weak.
There is pain, but it has become a healing pain.
It has been 2 months since I put the rod in my patient’s leg. He is better, but not whole. He tells me about how hard his therapist makes him work. How much he dreads the days she stops by the house, but at the same time how much he loves her for helping him get better.
He tells me with tears in his eyes. Tear of pain and tears of gratitude all mixed together.
When he was lying in the stretcher in the emergency room the day of his injury, he never imagined he would walk again. With these tears he tells me about his perspective on the miracle.
And perhaps our therapy is the difficult moments God sends in our lives. The times when we can do nothing else but ask him why. The parts of our stories that hurt. The moments when he asks us to simply trust him, to believe in his goodness and his love, without any explanation as to why we should. Except that he is.
Maybe my patient is right, that anytime something that was broken is given the chance to heal, an unexplained miracle is taking place.
Are you living a miracle?
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