Back in my younger and more adventuresome days, I signed up to run in a 5-km race sponsored by the local school board. I diligently trained for the run, and by the Thursday before the Sunday run, I was ready. There was only one problem: during that Thursday night, I woke up with a major Charlie horse in my left calf. Even walking was painful, and when I tried to hobble around the block at a slightly faster pace, the pain was almost intolerable. How on earth was I going to be able to run 5 kilometers?
Not being one to give up easily, the day of the race found me at the designated spot. There happened to be a registered massage therapist on site that day, one who specialized in sports injuries. He was giving free 10 minute massages to runners, and I joined the queue. Why not? Maybe he could help me!
As I climbed onto the massage table and began telling the therapist about my problems, his experienced fingers began assessing my left calf. Imagine my surprise, however, when he put my left leg aside and began working on my right calf! After about 10 minutes, he placed my right leg back on the table and again assessed my left calf. Then he helped me up off the table and sent me on my way.
But wait a minute. He didn’t even work on the injury. What kind of a therapist was he, anyway?
My rush of words was stopped, however, the moment I put my feet on the ground. My left calf no longer hurt! I went on to run those 5 kilometers without the tiniest hint of pain in my legs. I even took second place for my class!
I would later learn that it isn’t unusual for the injured side of the body to send pain messages to the opposite, uninjured side. This makes us think that the root of the problem lies where we are experiencing pain, when in actuality, it may lie somewhere else.
I believe this teaches us a very important lesson: when troubles come, perhaps their source isn’t quite what we initially think. Take, for example, that boss who fires you. Just like I thought my problem was with my left leg, it’s easy enough to think that boss fired you because he just doesn’t like you. But could the real source of the problem be in the “right leg”? Could something you have done be to blame?
And when the teenager in the house goes off the deep end, it’s pretty easy to point the finger of blame at that “left leg”: the hormonal individual who’s giving problems. But is it possible that the teen is simply trying to get–your–attention?
And what about the heart attack? Bad heart, right? Inherited it from my father. Nothing I can do! Wait. Science has shown strong connections between lifestyle and heart problems. Could the true “right leg” problem be that my lifestyle hasn’t always been heart-friendly?
Then there is cancer. The “left leg pain” points to the fact that God’s hand of mercy must have been removed from us to allow us to go such a horrible disease. Yet research shows us again and again that so many things in our modern-day environment contribute to cancer: Some sugar substitutes, the fire retardants in our furniture, aluminum, to name but a few.
The point is, when faced with trouble, we tend to point the blame at the “hurting calf”, never considering the fact that the root of the problem may lie somewhere else. Yet the truth remains: If that massage therapist had worked only on my left calf, I would not have made it through that race. In the same way he needed to work on the source of my problem, we also must work on our problems at their source, wherever that may be.
How do we do that?
The first step is to forgive those who we are blaming for our problems: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32 NIV); “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Eph 4:31,32)
Secondly, we must take responsibility for anything we may have done to cause or perpetuate the issue. The world’s wisest man tells us: “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Prov. 28:13 NIV). James tells us something similar: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 NIV). What this means is that in order to find resolution, we must confess and renounce any contribution we may have made to the situation at hand. When we do, we open the doors for healing–at the root of the problem!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.