I've had a lot of surgery and procedures in my life - I think I lost count when my incisions reached 17 on my tummy and 3 on my back. But the one thing I keep thinking today is that it's MUCH easier being the one on that table than being the one waiting to hear about a family member or friend coming through surgery.
Today someone I love deeply is having a surgical procedure and I'm waiting by the phone to hear how it went. This last few weeks with a family member being sick and needing surgery has been a reminder to me of what it has probably been like for my sweet husband (and parents and siblings and friends) when I have been in the hospital and having surgery. Visits to the hospital, sitting by their bedside, trying to find ways to cheer them up, waiting to hear from doctors, calling other family members with reports of what is going on, wondering how this will affect their life, wishing they didn't have to go through suffering ... it's a very different side of physical pain from what I am used to. I think the concern is the biggest difference. When I have been in the hospital I don't worry so much about how I am feeling (it's miserable at times and sometimes scary but when you are in the middle of it yourself you just have to go with it) but knowing someone I love is suffering physically is much harder. It's helpful for those of us with chronic health issues to see it from the other side so that we can learn to be sympathetic to our loved ones and try to make it easier on them through our attitude during times of our own ill health. It's good to be pulled outside of ourselves and think from a different perspective.
Last night our sermon was on the book of Job and how God uses suffering for good even when we don't see that being possible. I was reminder that whether enduring suffering in my own body or in the life of someone I love trusting God is the only way to get through it. I feel like that is actually easier for me when it is me who is in physical pain - I can often see God's hand in my pain .. but when I see someone I love suffering it is harder to trust that God is good. I find myself wanting to control the situation and do anything I can to make the suffering stop for them. But I need to remind myself that even as God is good in my pain, He is good in their pain and uses even hard things for the greater good.
So, here I am waiting for the phone call to know how my loved one is going after surgery - and learning to trust God with this precious person.