Nine years ago, I underwent a surgery that changed my life. When I was rushed to the hospital with terrible pain in my lower right abdomen, tests revealed that a large gangrenous cyst had ruptured, requiring emergency surgery. My surgeon assured me that I would be back on my feet within two months, and I held on to his promise.
But after I was released, my health steadily declined as I struggled with a mysterious digestive disorder characterized by severe bloating, indigestion, nausea, weight loss, and acid reflux. Many specialists and dozens of tests later, I learned that I was suffering from intestinal adhesions and other gastrointestinal problems caused by internal surgical scars.
My condition caused daily discomfort and required a strict diet. I prayed and searched relentlessly for a cure, believing there had to be a “happy ending” where I would be healthy, pain-free, and able to eat whatever I pleased. But with time it became clear that while I would gradually regain some strength, the repercussions of my surgery would likely be permanent.
This realization shattered me. My situation was so painful and bleak that I could not imagine what “good” could come from it,1 but I began thanking God for His love, wisdom, and the benefits He would bring from my struggles. Gradually, I found peace and courage to accept my condition as a gift from Him. This perspective made the discomforts much easier to bear and also helped me appreciate blessings I had not even noticed.
My health has improved somewhat, but some of my post-surgical conditions are irreversible. Nonetheless, I’ve come to be grateful for these pains and limitations. I’ve learned to value my life, family, and friends. I’ve grown in empathy and compassion for others. I’ve discovered that fortitude and resilience come through allowing life’s blows to deepen my character rather than dictate my attitude or destroy my happiness.
Most of all, I’ve experienced how God can give strength in weakness and triumph in the midst of trials. Through my struggles, He has deepened my faith, taught me to depend on Him, and given me His abiding joy that overrides any physical discomforts. As He promised the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 With God’s help, Paul’s reply is also mine: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. … For when I am weak, then I am strong.”3