A little over a month ago I had sinus surgery. I cannot express to you the pain I experienced recovering from this. I have to be honest, if I would have known how much this was going to hurt and how uncomfortable the recovery time would be, I wouldn’t have done it. I’ve always had major sinus issues and continually had sinus infections. Hacking, coughing, snorting, sniffing, blowing–you name it and I have done it. My poor wife has had to put up with all of the above and has learned to sleep through a hurricane other wise known as my nose! I went in about 5 months ago to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. This guy, being a specialist and coming highly recommended, scoped my nose, putting a light and long tube up my nose probing around. As my eyes were watering and I’m trying not to choke he brings the scope out and says, “Oh man! You got some nasty stuff going on in there!” Ok time out: It’s never good when a doctor that’s spent his life specializing in examining holes other doctors refuse to look into says, “Oh man! You got some nasty stuff going on there!” After my summer traveling I went in for surgery. I remember feeling somewhat nervous being put “under” and all. There I was stretched out on the operating table in a dress that wouldn’t close in the back and a paper shower cap on my head bathed in bright light and I started thinking to myself is this really worth the humiliation? The anesthesiologist gave me something good and said I would be sleeping in no time. I remember whatever he gave me made my rear end itch and then I said, “You know this room is really intimidating, with these bright lights and stuff. Oh well, you guys do a good job, ok?” And I was out. When I woke up in recovery all I remember was I couldn’t see anything and the nurse kept telling me that I was making a mess because I was coughing up blood everywhere. For the next seven weeks I was blowing the most hideous, smelly, crusty stuff you can imagine out of my nose. It got to the point where after I would give birth to this alien out of my nose I would run to my wife and beg her to look at what I just accomplished! Every guy knows what I’m talking about. Ladies here’s some advice, if a guy ever goes to the bathroom and asks you to come look at something don’t go, it’s never good. As painful as the recovery time was I have to say it was well worth it. I don’t remember the last time I was able to have 100% breathability through both nostrils. I hardly ever get a headache anymore. As I was recovering and blowing this crud out, I kept asking myself, “Why the junk did this doctor not pull out all this stuff when he was in there!” I was at times very frustrated thinking that a couple days after the surgery everything would be great and I would be completely well; little did I know, it was going to take seven weeks of nastiness before I started feeling better. James 1:2-4 says “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” In the message version it states that we should consider it a “sheer gift” when troubles come our way. A gift!! What!? Did I hear that right? We should consider all the heartache that life brings, all the “nastiness” the recovery if you will a gift? That means I should consider my abusive upbringing a gift from God…it’s kinda hard when you put it like that. The only way to get rid of the infection and the nastiness of our flesh is to put ourselves through the fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-13) and when we go through that fire it will reveal whether or not we have what it takes. It will reveal if we have cut corners through the trials of life or whether we have faced our trials head on. I’ve used every kind of nose spray you can think of; I’ve used decongestants; I’ve been on antibiotics, but all those things were temporary bandages, getting rid of the pain temporarily, but never fixing the problem. The problem was fixed when the doctor put this scope in my nose and then went in my head and cut things away that were not supposed to be there. That’s what life feels like sometimes doesn’t it? It feels as if God is cutting things away in our lives, trimming the fat, the infection, and it’s not until we surrender our desire for a Mickey -Mouse-Disney-movie-perfect-ending fantasy to Him that He will truly be able to move in our lives. We have to stop wanting the temporary patches of life, we have to start welcoming the trials that God brings our way, knowing it’s the trials that will keep us standing firm in our faith when the winds blow and the storms come. Knowing that it’s through these trials that we will find ourselves and see who we really are and, better yet, see how great our God really is. A while ago I was talking on the phone to my father. For some reason I said, “Dad I want to thank you for the abuse, because I’ve been able to help a lot of people, and if my life wasn’t like that as a child I don’t think I would be as effective as I am.” I didn’t say that out of animosity, but I truly meant it. We have two choices when trials come our way, we can either get bitter or better. We can try to prolong the inevitable of what we know is coming by patching it up with bandages or we can welcome it knowing God is in control and he will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). There is nothing more rewarding than going through that trial and coming out the other side realizing you have what it takes to survive. I think that’s how the Apostle Paul got to the point where he could write 2 Corinthians 6 with an honest heart. He was beaten with whips and rods, he was stoned, shipwrecked and left for dead and yet the guy surrendered everything. He basically got to the point where he knew it was going to hurt but made the decision that this life is only temporary and his pain and these trials wouldn’t last forever. He was confident and that one day this life would pass and he would stand before God with precious rubies, things that mattered because he was put through the fire and he came out a man, a man that didn’t forfeit his character or integrity to shorten the trial, but pushed through it, welcoming it, knowing that it was that trial that would prepare him for his future. I had a kid come up to me after the assembly program from this last school tour I did in Wisconsin. He said, “Jason last night I was going to end my life but something told me to come today and hear your story, I’m glad I did because now I know I can make it.” I’m really glad I made it through that trial in my life as a kid, I’m glad I didn’t cut a corner and although very painful learned what I needed to learn through it. It was because of that trial in my life that someone else could see that God was real (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). What are the trials in your life? Are you using different “bandages” to temporarily patch you up, trying to avoid the unavoidable and lessen the pain of the trial? My prayer is that each of us would cling tightly to Christ and embrace the trials that come our way knowing that He is going to use those trials to strengthen the faith of someone else and ultimately lead them to Him. “Hurts so good, come on baby make it hurt so good, sometimes love don’t feel like it should come on and make it hurt so good!” -Hurts So Good, by John Cougar Mellencamp Much love!