Losing Confidence in One's Self

It took nearly seven years for me to lose confidence in myself. It came by way of two ruptured discs in the lumbar region of my back. The doctor had prescribed six weeks of total rest, just to determine whether surgery would be needed. My first thought was OK, I guess I'll get a lot of reading done. But due to the pain, the painkillers, the muscle relaxants, and lying on my back, my eyes didn't focus well. I read one book in six weeks. And I couldn't lie in bed, either; it was too soft. So the six weeks were spent on the floor. The pain was horrible, and humiliating. A trip to the bathroom was a race between my bladder and my capacity for pain. Sometimes I had to lie down on the bathroom floor to recover from the trip before I could do what the trip was for.

I was of no use to the church, so I thought. I couldn't preach, I couldn't lead meetings, I couldn't make calls. I couldn't do anything but pray. So I asked my wife to bring me the new church directory with the pictures of all the church members in it. I decided I would pray for every member every day I was on the floor. It took nearly two hours for me to do this. Don't misunderstand: this wasn't great piety. Mainly I was bored and frustrated. But very quickly these times of prayer became sweet.

Toward the end of my convalescence, I had taken a walk and was back on the floor resting and thinking about going back to work. I said to the Lord, "You know, these times of prayer have been sweet. It's too bad I don't have time to do this when I'm at work." Then the Lord spoke. He addressed me: "Stupid." That was his word. He said it in a pleasant tone of voice, though. He said, "Stupid, you have the same twenty-four hours each day when you're sick as when you're well. The trouble with you, Ben, is when you're well, you think you're in charge; when you're sick, you know you're not."

Used with permission from Deepening Your Conversation With God by Ben Patterson (c)1999 Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Book House Company. All Rights Reserved, p. 14-15.

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