What do you do when you’re afraid? What helps you to face your fears and endure pain? Recently I faced fear and pain when I went through a colonoscopy without sedation or anesthesia.
The nurses kept trying to talk me into letting them give me medicine. The doctor said the pain level would be close to the pain of labor in child birth and that only one person in five hundred goes without medication. I persisted with my request and finally they said I could do it “natural” if I signed a waiver.
Why would I do this? Why willingly suffer pain and fear when you don’t have to? Avoiding the sedation and anesthesia side effects of feeling lousy and loopy for hours afterward wasn’t my motivation. Neither was it about staying awake and alert during the procedure. For me it was a spiritual exercise.
A Leap of Faith?
“We live by faith, not by sight,” the Bible says (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV). It’s easy to say this, but do we actually do it? Do we venture out into the unknown that scares us with confidence that God will actually be with us to sustain us? Here was an opportunity for me to trust that the risen Christ truly was with me in Spirit to comfort me and give me strength.
This was not a “leap of faith.” Many think it’s a virtue to leap blindly, even impulsively, into the dark, expecting God to catch us before we fall. That’s a romantic notion, but it leads to lots of bruises! Or to playing things safe because you don’t have any real faith to leap with.
True faith is confidence in God which is based on knowledge of God and his loving care. it’s our knowledge of spiritual reality that enables us to extend beyond that knowledge into the unknown. That’s why the writer to Hebrews says, “Now faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). Substance. Evidence. Faith is tied to knowledge of spiritual reality. (See our Bible Study on “Knowing Christ Today.”)
The Power of Scripture Meditation
It wouldn’t be wise for me or anyone to endure a colonoscopy “natural” without having come to know another resource to count on in times of distress. I knew I didn’t need drugs but could be transported to an alternate reality through Scripture Meditation. I was not seeking an empty Nirvanah, but the unseen spiritual reality of God’s Kingdom. I was not detaching into nothingness, but into a personal connection with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
It’s important to understand that to attach to the Lord we need to detach from controlling things. And there’s a lot I wanted to control about the colonoscopy! I didn’t want to experience pain for thirty minutes. I didn’t want to face feelings of fear. I didn’t want to submit to such an embarrassing, intrusive procedure. I let go of all that to trust the Word of God.
I used a “Watch and Pray” (Matthew 26:41) discipline of imagining myself undergoing the trial of the colonoscopy and as I anticipated this I drew nourishment from Psalm 91, which I had memorized years ago. I was at peace. I carried this right into my colonoscopy, sometimes breathing the words in and out, and I found that I was indeed transported beyond the medical clinic and into the heavenly realms.
As I laid on my side in my hospital bed I became like a little chick, cuddling in the soft feathers of El Shaddai, hiding under his wing. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1, NIV). I was at rest. So much so that by God’s grace I didn’t just “grin and bear it” to get through the pain, which was considerable at times, but I remained peaceful. God even helped me to be cheerful and to offer words of appreciation to the doctor and nurses during the colonoscopy!
Don’t Throw Away Your Trials!
I certainly don’t mean to suggest that you ought to do a colonoscopy without sedation or anesthesia! I’m someone who practices and teaches Scripture meditation and Breath Prayers and I have built up to this challenge over a number of years.
The vision I mean to offer to you is to take whatever situation of stress or pain that you have to face and prepare for it by training yourself to learn to trust the Lord Jesus before and during the Trial. It might be driving in traffic. Fear of disappointing someone you love. Enduring criticism. Failing to reach a goal. Or going through difficult medical treatment with medication. Whatever it is, bring it into the Kingdom of God and find rest under the wing of the Lord.
We all go through trials. But if we’re not careful we throw them away in a trash can of complaints — along with the gold that could’ve been mined! (1 Peter 1:6-7)