In her book of healing stories, Joy Carol shares moving personal accounts of broken and hurting people who have moved toward hope, meaning, and wholeness. Here’s a vivid example of the spiritual practice of grace when a South African woman learns that even her pain can be used as a gift from God.
“Later that year my back was seriously reinjured in an automobile accident. Seven years earlier I had had extensive surgery on it. On July 29, an orthopedic surgeon informed me that there was nothing more that could be done for me because the risks were too great of my becoming paralyzed. I had been in bed for weeks and could barely walk. The pain was so excruciating that I was planning to start a pain management program to learn how to adapt to this way of living. I wondered what I would do with the rest of my life. . . .
“We were aware that Archbishop Tutu was very busy . . . but we asked if it would be possible to get an appointment with him.
“At his office, the Archbishop asked: ‘Jenny, how is your back?’ ‘Father, you don’t want to know,’ I answered. ‘I feel depressed and have a lot of pain. Why am I praying and not being healed? I must have done something very wrong in my life, and God is punishing me. Perhaps I have sinned so much that He isn’t able to heal me.’
“I’ll never forget what he said. ‘Jenny, then Jesus must have been the greatest sinner of all, because no one suffered more than He did. What you need to do, my daughter, is give thanks for what God has given you. And you need to embrace this pain. There may be a reason for it. You need to give it to God and leave it with Him.’
“For a moment I just stared at him as I thought about those words. He went on: ‘One day you will look back on this experience and understand why you have this pain. You will be called to speak to people who are in pain, and you can tell them you’ve been there. Embrace that pain and then give it back to God. Until you can accept this and stop questioning why it is happening to you, you will not experience release and healing.’ ”