Please join me in welcoming Anikah Salim, a leading epidemiologist, a beautiful sister, woman, and friend, as she shares the pain she endured in the darkroom.
Fix it, Jesus!
I sat in the darkness. Alone in the car. The keys in the ignition, but the engine off. My fists tightly clinched as I screamed out, “God, why are you doing this to me?!” But no one heard me. No one saw me. How could they? All they could see was a smile. All they could hear was, “I’m fine.” I could never quite get the words out. The pain in my body was so severe that I had no energy for the words.
For several years I had dislocations of my knee, for several years I had to walk on crutches, for several years I would go for days, sometimes weeks without being able to walk without excruciating pain. Finally, in 2008, after almost 20 years, I had an intense surgery to correct the problem. That surgery came along with permanent pins in my knee, about a year of rehabilitation, and 5 years of full recovery.
As I sat in the car, getting ready to walk (on my crutches) into rehab, I thought to myself, “I am going through some of the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. God, why are you doing this to me?” Little did I know the worst was yet to come.
Back to Square One
I thought knee the dislocation was the worst pain I had ever felt, but this was much worse. “Was it even worth it?” I asked myself over and over. There were complications from surgery, and I often found myself choosing between experiencing pain relief along with debilitating side effects such as hallucinations, constipation, weight loss, nausea, and the list goes on, or forgoing the medication and agonizing in pain.
Definitely couldn’t see any purpose for what I was going through. It seemed as though the surgery hadn’t been a success. It seemed I was worse off than before. I was stuck in a brace from my hip to my ankle.
“Maybe I could have lived my life managing with the dislocations. Maybe it would have healed on its own. I could have exercised.” Every possible thought went through my mind to explain why going through surgery had been a bad idea. It didn’t seem like I was healing.
This was one of the darkest seasons of my life. Everything looked dim… until I went to rehabilitation.
“Rehabilitation hurts. It takes time, dedication, and pushing your body to its max. It takes sacrifice. There is temptation to quit, but if you stick to it and reach the goal, it will all be worth it.” I can’t remember where this quote came from, but I will never forget these true words.
When I became a physical therapy patient after my knee surgery, I was convinced God hated me. When would the pain ever end?
On one of my difficult days in rehab, I can recall telling my therapist how much I loathed him. Truly, I did not, I just despised what he put me through. I asked him if he liked his job. Naturally, he said he loved it. I responded, “How can you love a job where you constantly cause pain? Do you enjoy seeing people in pain?”
“No,” he said, “I do not enjoy seeing people in pain. I love to see people get well. I enjoy the restoration. Unfortunately, the healing and restoring come with the pain. You’re disabled right now and stuck in a wheelchair. I have to cause a little bit of pain in order to restore your ability to walk. And I want to see you walk again. This pain is temporary, but the restoration will be permanent.”
And there it was. God’s work in my life clearly explained through my physical therapist. God allows us to go through painful experiences to refine and restore us. We endure these trials momentarily so we can be purified and fit for God’s everlasting kingdom!
I couldn’t walk properly. I had to go through intense, excruciating pain to correct the problem. You should see me now! Walking all over! Romans 8:18 says, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”
I finally understood why just when it seemed I would come into the light, it got even darker. God was refining me in the darkroom so my restoration would be His glory story!
I now see that the Master Physician wasn’t just fixing my knees. He was performing spiritual surgery through my circumstances. He is always trying to rid me of my sin problem and rehabilitate me so that I can be ready to walk upright, perfect, and blemish free when He returns.
Now, I am thankful for the darkroom.