On my second trip to Israel, I once again went into the Holy Land with Expectation. There is a sense of God’s presence in the Land so I wanted to receive revelation as I did in my previous visit eight years before. What I did not expect is what happened the day before we left the Land. Our group had just toured the Davidson Center, an archeological park and museum near the Western Wall. We were on our way to the teaching steps at the Temple where Jesus most likely taught on numerous occasions when splat! I fell to the ground. It was a strange fall because I had no sense I was going down and had not lost my balance. I was upright one minute and writhing in pain on the ground the next. I had landed hard on my right arm and it felt broken. I later found out it was a fracture in my radial bone.
My first thought was, Why did this happen? I was so excited about being in Israel a second time, I could not understand why God didn’t prevent my fall in this Holy site. Then it hit me, and I couldn’t shake the idea. What if Jesus was allowing me to experience a smidgeon of the suffering he felt when walking the streets of Jerusalem? We traveled down the Villa Dolorosa, the same path that Jesus took on his way to the cross. He had been beaten so bad that he was unable to carry his own cross. That’s where Simon of Cyrene came in to help. Here I was in dire pain, understanding in a deeper way what our Savior must have experienced.
Peter discussed suffering as a way to be more like Jesus. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12). So through this experience, I believe I’ve learned a few things about physical suffering.
- Suffering draws us closer to God. I’ve replayed my fall numerous times, and every time I think about what Jesus went through for us. I experienced great discomfort walking the streets of Jerusalem, but I kept powering through because I thought that my injury was nothing compared to what the Savior experienced. That thought gave me supernatural strength.
- Periodic suffering shows us that we are not invincible. We are weak vessels entirely reliant on the mercy and grace of God. One second I was okay; the next I had a fractured arm. Life can turn upside down in a split second. This scenario also forced me to allow others to help with things that are normally easy for me, like opening a heavy door or lifting the milk out of the refrigerator. Injuries humble us.
- Sometimes, we do not receive immediate healing. A woman I did not know prayed over my arm in the Jerusalem hotel elevator. When I returned, I went down to our church altar for prayer. Another woman I met, who has a gift of healing, prayed over my arm as well. Friends prayed. Nothing miraculous happened. I believe in healing. I’ve prayed over people myself and seen them healed supernaturally, but for whatever reason, my arm still feels broken. I think God sometimes says no to healing because he is doing something spiritually in us in the midst of suffering.
The great news is that God never leaves our side during suffering. He promises in Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” God is always with us in both the good and the bad.