(Continued from here.)
We're always standing before God, but I think we're pushed to the front row when in pain and at the mercy of our nerve endings. We try to regain control by taking medicine created by humans, and then wait for God--for the miracle of our bodies and brains--to respond.
At a class last night on the music and piyyutim (liturgical poems) of Shavuot, we talked about the vulnerability of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. They were free, no longer enslaved, but also in a place of danger and unknown. So they trusted in God's power to protect, and reached the other side. And in those 40 years they regained their humanity, learned to rest, and gathered the strength to think for themselves and act like free people. Only then were they ready to receive Torah.
I don't believe my pain had a reason, or at least one I can label. To my limited comprehension as a human in an unlimited universe, it just happened. But think I saw God in that pain, in the awareness of an awesome power beyond my control--the God who made the beast in the nighttime desert. I also saw God in the doctor found randomly online, one grain of sand, who treated me with kindness and compassion even as he had to inflict more pain to make me better. In his presence was the God of strength Who keeps me safe when I'm vulnerable. And the friends who stayed with me and kept calling to see if I was OK--they were the God Who teaches me to rest and take care of myself so I can grow up and be ready for... what? I don't yet know. Maybe one day I'll understand all these lessons and examples, and will reach the other side.