Monday, December 17, 2012

Binding the Wounded: Triumph and Tragedy

The Triumph

Thursday I sat in an operating room, my surgeon armed with a needle and a sonogram, seeking out cysts and systematically collapsing them. It was all good news - this collapsing of cysts - but there were still no answers to my original symptoms, and this hung over us. As my doctor moved to a new section of tissue, searching for the other suspicious cysts, he hovered over a section that appeared only grey and grainy on the sonogram.

"Stop there," he told the technician. "Zoom in." Then, "That's it!"

There, in the grey grainy screen was a grey grainy mass, perfectly circular, perfectly solid, perfectly hiding right in plain sight. The tumor that managed to avoid detection on a mammogram, an MRI, and three previous sonograms suddenly was right in front of our eyes.

My doctor's demeanor changed. Everything changed. The calm in the room changed to a flury as instruments were switched out, anesthesia was given, a scalpel produced, and the next thing I know, he is cutting the thing out.

"We have it," he said, pressing down on me to staunch the blood flow, which has poured over the side of me. "We'll send it to the lab, but I'm very optimistic." He smiled at me. "We finally found it."

Indeed, after more than a month, we had an answer.

He left and the nurse bound me up, tape in the place of stitches, followed by chunks of gauze, followed by an ace bandage so tight I could barely breathe.

"Keep this on," she said. "At least 24 hours. The compression will help you heal."

The Tragedy

A little more than 24 hours later, I was sitting in our church watching my children in the Christmas concert, reminded by the day's tragedy in Connecticut how precious these moments are.

Our music pastor began the concert with these verses from Isaiah, and I pondered them as the orchestra played.

"Bind up the brokenhearted."

What does that mean?

The day before I'd been cut open, had part of my body taken out, and bound back up. I was in pain, even now. My skin had turned hideous shades of maroon and black and purple. There was still dried blood under the wrappings. I could not, for even a second, forget the constant ache in my chest.

But I'd been bound. And I was healing.

Tragedies like mass shootings make us ask difficult questions. Where was God when this happened? Why didn't He stop it?

I don't propose to have all the right answers, but I think we have to accept that having free will to make our own choices comes with two sides of a coin. We want to be in charge of our own lives, to make our own choices, but we want God to stop others who make bad ones. He doesn't say, "I'll let you make decisions, but only up to a point." He lets us - all of us - decide for ourselves what path we will take each day.

What He does promise is that he'll be there for us, no matter what we choose - or what others choose that impacts us.

He will bind up the brokenhearted.

Like my own bandages, it doesn't take away the pain. It doesn't stop the bruising. It doesn't reverse what happened. It doesn't keep scars from forming.

But it helps keep out infection from bitterness and anger. It helps heal. If we let Him, He will heal us.

He promised to turn our mourning into joy, our despair into praise, if we ask Him. Maybe not today. Maybe not next week. But eventually.

And that, my friends, is called Hope.

(Background watercolor by Valeriana)


  1. This is beautiful, Heidi. Thank you for sharing. I remember the moment I felt hope for the first time again this year. It isn't the lack of's the knowledge that there is a greater plan, a divine purpose.

  2. Amen, Katie! And trusting God means we don't even have to see that plan... we can just know it's there. Glad you are finding your hope again!

  3. Your post really sums up everything. We have free will and that is a great gift from God. Unfortunately some choose to use their free will to make awful choices which have consequences for us or for those around us, but how we choose to respond is what will determine what kind of person we are.

    I'm so glad they found what they were looking for and you're on the road to recovery.

    1. Thank you, Patti. Free will's a tough thing, isn't it? We want God to let us do what we want, then blame Him if something doesn't go right. I can imagine, even after thousands of years, He's still slapping his head over us. :)

  4. Our free will is critical to our happiness, but with it comes sadness, too. There is opposition to all things. Thank you for your beautiful post, and I'm glad your medical mystery was solved. Get better:)

    1. I think I'm back to as normal as I was, which is to say - no all that normal. :)

      Opposition to all things.... that's a great way to say it!

  5. It's been a very tough weekend. I didn't want to send my daughter to school today, but we have to keep going, keep living, and keep trusting God.

    I pray the results come back in your favor, Heidi, and I praise God that they found the tumor.

    1. The biopsy showed no cancer, so praise God for that!

      It's hard to keep moving forward when evil seems like it could be around every corner. It's a blessing, I suppose, that that fear eventually abates.

  6. This is a beautiful post, filled with wisdom and hope. Heal well.

    1. Thank you, Roxanne. I'm healing very nicely. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

  7. I'm SO glad the the tumor was found and is out! Whew! Praying for your continued recovery!

    In addition to our poor choices, there's also the issue of our world being fundamentally fallen and broken since the time of Adam, waiting for God's kingdom to break in. Things like cancer and mental illness are not our choice but might be the thorns and thistles in our particular fields. As we bind up the brokenhearted, we are doing God's work of restoring the world to what he intended it to be.

    1. Thanks, Laurel! The recovery, I hope, is nearly complete.

      The world is indeed fallen, and it only takes a perusal of history to see it's been this way as long as we can tell. We have the blessing and opportunity to shine in those dark places.

  8. Wow, excellent post Heidi. I totally agree. Thank you for sharing.

  9. So grateful to know you are on the road to healing, Heidi.

    And I always remember that somehow, some way, (even when we can't see it at the time) God promises to cause all things to ultimately work for His good and ours.

    1. It's so hard to remember his promises when the immediate now looks so bleak. I think that's why it's important to look back and see how He's worked in the past... both in Biblical times as well as in our own lives. It's hard to say something good can come of some tragedy like this, but to say nothing good can come makes it worse.