The last time I saw my older brother, I was being wheeled away in a wheelchair. I’d been visiting him and his wife while in the city for a medical appointment, and I was heading home. Excited to see my boys, I woke up early only to discover searing pain in my body, especially my back. It was so awful, I couldn’t even stand up.
I knew my plane was leaving at a certain time, and I only had a few minutes to get washed, dressed and pack up my things. But in that moment, I couldn’t imagine doing any of it.
Have you ever heard of the spoon theory? As it goes, if you suffer with a disability or chronic illness, you wake up each day with a set of spoons. Spoons equal energy and ability to do tasks. Each activity costs you a certain number of spoons. Getting dressed may be one spoon, for others five. Running an errand can costs several spoons. Exercise often costs the greatest amount of spoons. And when you run out of spoons, that’s it. You’re done for the day.
So what happens when you wake up with zero spoons? It certainly felt like it for me. I couldn’t move. I lay on my back in the guest room panicking. What was I going to do?
Sometimes we are slow to turn to God for help, and other times we aren’t. Usually when pain is present I our lives, we are much less likely to forget. So as I lay there, with only about thirty minutes to get out of bed and out the door, I called out to God for help.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
I’m not used to God moving quickly. Perhaps that’s my lack of faith showing through. But this is the fastest a prayer has ever been answered in my life. As soon as I finished praying for help, I gathered all my strength and stood up. It hurt like I can’t even describe.
Letting out a deep breath, I prayed for help again. I washed up and got dressed. The pain was great but God was greater. I felt His presence as He helped me accomplish these small things. A few minutes later my brother knocked on the door to tell me it was time to go. I told him I felt like I was dying and asked if he had any Advil. He came back with a cold bottle of water and a handful of pain meds. As I downed them, I prayed they would work fast.
God heard me again. As I hobbled to the car, the pain was great but I managed to get in. As we navigated through the airport, it felt less. Relief came as a support personal opened up a wheelchair and I sat down. I don’t love using a wheelchair. It makes me feel embarrassed, being the size I am. I’m always afraid of what people will think of me. I don’t know why spectator opinions matterso much to me. I’m working on that.
But, sitting helplessly in a wheelchair drugged up on pain meds is how my brother saw me last. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I could dwell on how it made me sad to see him walking off with the image of a somewhat crippled sister changing his image of a once agile sister who could bicycle as fast as he could. A sister who once jumped with him on trampolines. A sister who raced him up the hill after rolling down.A sister who could walk.
Yes, I could get caught up in that. And sometimes, I do. Reality is it hurts when you look back over the life changes that occur when your body goes through something unnatural. But there’s something else at work here. Where there’s the unnatural, there’s also the supernatural. And I’m not talking about science fiction.
Here’s the thing. The Saviour debunks the spoon theory every day. When we cry out to Him for help, He is there. Somehow on the day when I couldn’t move, I flew home, went grocery shopping and visited some friends. Normally, doing any one of those things would liquidate my short supply of spoons. But not when God intervenes. Through His power, my weaknesses are made strong. Through his power that day, my supply of spoons multiplied. In fact, I didn’t think about my energy level at all that day.
I think about that day often. I think about it when I’ve been standing too long and my legs ache with fire. I think about it after I’ve run errands and I’m recouperating in the couch. I remember my cry for help, and His beautiful provision. It still blows my mind I managed to get on that plane.
He wants to help you when you’re weary. He wants to fill you up when you’re empty. His loving kindness is better than any spoon you’ll ever find. Relying on him is the only way you can leave your spoons behind.
That day in the airport, I was wheeled to a spot where I’d wait to get taken to the plane. The support personnel laid my bags on the floor next to me and said someone would be there to help me with them for boarding. Normally, I’d grab my phone and scroll through Facebook or browse through Pinterest while I was waiting. I couldn’t because my bag was out of reach. As I sat there, feeling vulnerable and alone, I witnessed something I might have missed with my phone in hand. A beautiful, spectacular autumn morning sunrise. As the sun rose up past office buildings and skyscrapers, it took my breath away.
Jesus fills our every need. Who knew that morning my greatest need was abandon my spoons and wake up with the sun?