What a difference a month can make….sometimes.

Exactly four weeks ago at this very unhistoric moment, an unassuming Christian girl with over five decades of life experience was trying a new one: allowing a small doctor with a big knife to carve his initials (and who knows what else) into her left shoulder. She works as a book publicist and prefers to put a positive spin on practically everything. So she thought (see? assumptions after all!) that lolling around in Same Day Surgeryland would be, you see, a bit of a holiday and she’d be back at work some 36 hours later madly typing away.

Well she’s mad alright, but not at the ortho guy who was simply doing his job as he was very well paid to do. She’s sore too, and not just from the shoulder slaughter. She tripped, as it happened, over her own Big Fat Assumption that SDS would not disrupt her carefully plotted out little life one bit. That the page would turn on the pain the very next day and she would be back to zippering her own frocks and curling her bottle-blond tendrils using both arms.

So here she sits one month later at an airport in the freezing Southeast, waiting for a flight to Chicago that just might never leave because, quite frankly, it doesn’t want to go there, and pain has lit a match to the gasoline that the surgeon dutifully substituted for blood in her veins.

Now if this assumption-tripping publicist were actually a successful author like the ones she works for, she would find Some Deep Meaning in the pain, as if it were unique to her own small life. As if millions of people all over the world don’t live in chronic pain every day of every decade.

But she can’t, you see, because to assume little Mrs. Publicist shouldn’t suffer a bit would be the height of western-style arrogance. The question is not why-does-this-hurt-so-badly but rather why- has- she- been- so- blessed that she has lived a relatively pain- free life up till now? (She does recall quite vividly some wild-eyed hollering on three memorable days in the 80’s, but oh the spectacular payoff when she was sent home with a small prize package each time.)

So instead of reaching for the Vicodin on this particular snowbound evening in Norfolk, she sips hot chocolate at an airport Starbucks and leverages her pain into prayer. Prayers for the friends with troubled children. Pleas for the cancer-wracked and the brutally bereaved. Intercession for the mentally unsteady and their suffering families.

 Her own pesky discomfort reminds the publicist that there is more to life, much more, that how she feels at this particular moment.  That suffering, a little or a lot, is the way of this world. That the God who made her did not pour the gasoline nor did He light the match. He has provided instead a very different kind of Light, one that peeks, and occasionally pours, through the cracks in her fragile, cracked-pot life.

The Publicist will continue to trip over her silly assumptions in the years to come as she stumbles and bumbles her way to her final destination, but there’s a light that is guiding her way. Though she can’t see it yet, she knows it’s there.

And on this snowy evening in Norfolk, Virginia, that’s good enough for her.