“How long will this take?” I asked the MRI technician. As my body glided into the MRI machine, he replied, “About forty minutes.”
Two hours later, I began to cringe in pain. “Stay still! Stay still!” I reminded myself. But I couldn’t. My hand felt like it was on fire. My back ached because of my position in the claustrophobic machine. “How much longer?” I asked the tech. He replied, “About eight minutes. Just one more scan. Are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” I replied. As the thunderous noise filled the room again, I cried out to God, “I’m not okay. I can’t do this!” His silence was evident in that noisy room. “God, I can’t do it! How much longer? Make it end! Please!” But the scan continued. “Where are you?” Still no response.
Ten minutes later, the scan finally came to an end, but I still asked the same questions on the way back to my hospital room: How much longer? Where are you?
When I was in the ER several days before this MRI, a nurse asked me why I study theology. Truthfully, I’m a theology student because difficult seasons of life force me to wrestle with those questions. When life isn’t “good,” I need to know why I still believe God is good. When I wonder how much longer the pain and suffering will last, I need to know why I should still persevere gracefully and faithfully. When God doesn’t appear to reply to my requests, I need to know why it’s still important to pray. When God seems absent, I need to know why I still have faith that he is with me.
In my 23 years with this condition and its complications, I’ve often wrestled with what I feel and what I know. I may feel alone, but I know that isn’t true. I may feel like I can no longer endure, but I know my God helps me persevere. In this season of life, I’m choosing to trust what I confidently know. As Tremper Longman III once wrote, “Wise suffering should mature into patient endurance by trusting God.”
In this season of life, my prayer is simple — Lord, teach me to patiently endure.
Maybe someone needs to hear this today.