Sanctifying Kidney Stones

Last Wednesday night at Surfside PCA, our church enjoyed a very powerful communion service.  Many of our people, including me, were impacted by the careful contemplation of Christ’s work on the Cross.  The next morning one of our elders, shared his feelings with me in an e-mail.  He said, “Last night was a very special night.  I found myself waking up a lot last night, dwelling on the crucifixion.” Wow. What a powerful statement.

As Easter approached, I began thinking about what my elder had shared with me.  I found myself longing to know Christ in a deeper way.  I began to pray that Christ would help me to identify with him in his sufferings.  I prayed several heartfelt prayers on Thursday and Friday, asking Jesus to help me to appreciate how much he sacrificed in order to provide me with the gift of himself.  As I went to bed Friday night I decided that I would begin fasting on Saturday as one more way to reflect on Christ’s passion.  I also felt that this fast would prepare my heart to preach the 8am service on Easter morning at Surfside Pres.  On Saturday morning I began to work my plan.  I woke up early to pray and think on the scriptures.  That morning, I worked in the yard, then returned to the scriptures to read “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”  At noon, I worked in the garage, then sat down to read in Matthew, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Around 2pm, I went over to the church to shoot hoops by myself – praying and thinking.  I jogged around the church building several times.  Breathing hard and sweating, I sat down and considered Paul’s words from Philippians 3 – my central text for Easter morning’s sermon, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings“.

I went back home and showered.  I returned to the the church with my sister Samantha, who was visiting from Georgia. We were piddling around, making small talk, and doing this and that.  Straightening my office. Working on a few odds and ends.  Then something felt a little funny in my lower back.  A twinge…and then a tightening sensation around my side and into my lap.  I adjusted myself.  Could it be?  Then it happened.  An old familiar feeling.  A sharp pain ripped up through my lower back.  A kidney stone.  I’ve had two kidney stones before.  But right at that moment, I knew that this one was going to be different.  This one had a message.

An hour later, I was on my way to the emergency room.  I sat down in front of the receptionist and began to feel the wretched tightening.  Then “bam-bam”! Two excruciating deep stabs into my lower left side.  “Oh my God!”  I blurted loudly, the innocuous curse escaping my lips before I could stop myself.  I grabbed awkwardly at my back.  The receptionist was shocked.  “You okay, sir?”  Holding my lips tight together, I managed to squeeze out “ah…its…ah…kidney…stone.”  She grimaced.  “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  After giving my personal information, Martha Jo and I took our seat at the rear of a very crowded waiting room.  There were at least thirty patients in front of us.  There was a father, holding his son.  They two of them had been in a car wreck and the boy looked as though he might have a broken leg.  There was a woman sitting in a wheel chair, rocking back and forth as a way to deal with her pain.  There was large man hopping up to the receptionist on one leg.  There was a young woman sitting in handcuffs beside a police officer.  A ragtag bunch of sick people, all waiting for a doctor.  Nurses ran back and forth and shouted out names.  We sat there for about forty minutes.

I winced hard and moaned deeply as the tiny little barbed stone cut its own road through my kidneys.  Beads of sweat popped out all over my forehead.  My clothes were soaked.  For whatever reason, all the spit evaporated out of my mouth.  Martha Jo, ever vigilant, bought me an apple juice and sat beside me, ready to do whatever she could.  I broke into cold chills.  “Timothy Melton?”  I went to the front where an RN took down more information and gave me a small clear cup.  I knew what to do.  I went into the restroom and filled the cup.  As I screwed the cap back on I could not help but notice the color of my urine.  It was the color of cranberry juice – a dark red mixture of urine and blood.  I stood at the sink holding the cup in front of me, my pasty white reflection staring at the liquid.  Three nights before, during our communion service, I had seen the same color liquid. “Lord, help me to identify with You in Your sufferings.”

I made my way back to my seat in the rear of the waiting room where Martha Jo and I would wait another forty minutes.  After a bit, the stone relented, giving me a much needed moment of respite.  Worn out and dizzy, I shared with Martha Jo what I had prayed last Wednesday night.  And I prayed that prayer again just hours before while shooting hoops in the church parking lot.  “Lord, help me to identify with You in your sufferings.”

God had answered my prayer.  Not the way I wanted.  Not the way I ever would have dreamed.  Passing a kidney stone is a horrible experience.  When I passed my first stone, about 15 years ago, I lost consciousness twice.  My urologist later told me that a kidney stone, in its worst cases, causes the kind of pain one would experience at death.  “It is like death, without dying,” he said.  I have a female friend who had birthed twin.  She told me that the pain of her kidney stone far outweighed the pain of childbirth.  Hard to believe.

For the past two days, I have been suffering with this kidney stone.  I would never in a million years choose to have this pain.  It’s horrible.  There’s just nothing like it.  When the pain is at its apex, there simply is nothing you can do to get comfortable.  To make matters worse, the pain medication that I’m taking has given me a relentless case of hiccups along with a good dose of constipation, just to round things out.  So here I am, writhing and hic-upping and needing to have a bowel movement.  I haven’t been able to sleep.  I’ve thrown up several times.   I’m exhausted.  And yet…

And yet, I have family and friends around me who minister to me and serve me.  I can lay down on a soft bed with a heating pad on my back.  I have received countless notes of encouragement via e-mail and text messages.  I have pain medication.  I have cranapple juice poured in a glass with ice chips.  I have the prayers of my church.  This morning, I watched a beautiful sunrise that emerged from the horizon and shed rays of beauty over the pond in my back yard.  All day today, I sat in my backyard, enjoying the weather in front of that pond, taking in the natural beauty that is Myrtle Beach this time of year.  A mother mallard and her seven little chicks swam past me, a sign of spring and new life.  This evening, I’m sitting in my soft lazy boy chair.  My son, Camp is beside me.  We are watching television together.  In a few days, this tiny stone will pass away and my pain will leave with it.  Yes, I know that there is more pain ahead.  This will probably not be my last kidney stone.  And one day, the pain and suffering of life will have its way completely, and I will move from this life to the next.

But my death will not be the end of my story.  Jesus has made sure of that.  He willingly chose to suffer and die for me.  The pain that I have now, in this kidney stone, is in no way worthy to be compared with the agony of the Cross.  He endured this agony so that I might be rescued from death and the Wrath of God.  I cannot even begin to imagine the horrible suffering that Christ went through.  And yet…

And yet, Jesus has been pleased to allow me to share in his sufferings, to get a taste of what he went through.  The past two days, I have been given a slight suggestion of his pain.  Nothing more than Pictures really.  Snapshots that are all weaving a tapestry inside my mind:  The stabbing pain in my side and back.  The cold beads of perspiration collecting along my forehead.  A loud shout of ‘O my God’!  A cup of blood.  A stone.  A waiting room filled with sick people, cripples, prostitutes and prisoners – all in need of a physician.   Prayers whispered in pain.  Then this morning, there was the  sunrise of Easter.  The promise of resurrection and new life.  The love of the Beloved.  And the Spirit of Christ, walking with me all the way, pointing my eyes in the right direction, making sure that I pay attention, and helping me to remember the prayer I prayed last Wednesday night – “Lord, help me to identify with You in your sufferings.”

Even as I write this last line, I feel the dreaded tightening in my back that indicates the coming of yet another pain-filled episode.  And so I whisper gently, “Thank you Lord Jesus.  Thank you for answered prayer and sanctifying Kidney Stones.”

21 thoughts on “Sanctifying Kidney Stones

  1. “Been there, Tim: alternately writhing and waiting for a 4mm monolith to finish a six-week voyage. I’ll be praying.”

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  2. The last several years Mike has had kidney stones too. The worst pain I have ever seen him in. They told Mike that this time of year when men start getting out and doing yard work if you have a kidney stone inside they usually dislodge and you know the rest of the story.Praying for you Tim..

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  3. So sorry for your plight! If it is any consolation at all, I really do know how you feel. I haven’t had one of consequence in many years, but I “drew” up and grimaced while reading your blog. I pray that it passes soon. Love you brother.

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  4. I am so thankful for your gift of language and your incredible insight…I am grateful that even in your pain you are willing to share both with us. Miss you Tim! Will be praying.

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  5. I’ve found, many years ago, to be careful for what you ask God to do, it hardly ever ends up as you originally hoped for. I hope you get better soon.

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  6. Wow, what an amazing story! You have such an awesome way w/ words! Will be praying….hope you feel better. Loveya-ash and darren

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  7. So sorry, Tim! Daddy had them several times when I was little, and I remember how much pain he was in. I guess if there’s any silver lining…just be glad you weren’t at Windy Gap when it happened (this time)!

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  8. Praying for you, brother…for strength and endurance, and knowing God’s presence with you. You’ve been in our thoughts and prayers these past couple days.

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  9. I will pray that you get relief from your kidney stones. I also spent Friday evening thinking and praying about the pain that Jesus suffered for each one of us and how we take it for granted sometime. ( I admit that I stopped short of asking to identify with His pain) I’m a chicken when it comes to pain and don’t handle it well. Hope it passes soon. May the Lord’s lovingkindness and compassion be with you and your family. Lam. 3:22,23

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  10. You have again preached a great sermon!! Your sermon, not as you had expected to do so, but, as God saw fit, has spoken volumes to my heart!! Don has had 2 attacks in the past 29 years!!! I felt his pain somewhat? May you find peace in knowing God is using you for His Purposes!!! Praying for a rapid relief from these tiny irritants!!

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    • Thank you so much Debbie. You and Don mean so much to me. Last week when you sent that card – wow! I cracked up laughing. It was so encouraging! Right now, I’m still battling the kidney stone. I’m so weak. I didn’t know Don had kidney stones too. Were his stones bad too?

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  11. I’m heading out shortly, so I don’t have time to read. Will read it later. Just to let you know, I’ve passed over 20 kidney stones in my life. Fortunatley, they are worst between age 47 and 57. Okay, I made that last sentence up. The last painful one I had was in 2000. It wasn’t a stone, it was a boulder. In the late 80’s I had one that hospitalized me on Christmas Eve and for about 4 days after. Hang in there, Bro.

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  12. Our dear Tim, What a powerful message – and we knew a week ago there was something amiss at our house. I can’t even say I’m so sorry you had to go through all this, because you have found Jesus in it. You are God’s man on earth, and He continues to use you in a mighty way. What gorgeous jewels there will be in your crown…made from kidney stones. Of course we pray for your speedy relief from pain, when we heard we hoped that there was an ultrasound that could zap them for you. “But if not, you have still served the Lord.” We love you, God bless your family as they care for you, Lynn & Jay

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  13. Tim, I just returned home and I was able to read your post. Beautiful, my brother. We will keep praying for you. You are truly a blessing to the people God has given you to minister to.

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  14. Wow Tim. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Even in the midst of your pain, you are ministering to your sheep. Thank you for your faithfulness and love for our Savior. You are being prayed for as you endure this pain. Love you so much!! Katy

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  15. Your Dad and I love the way you can put personal things into a story that contains our savior Jesus Christ”

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  16. Tim, thank you. I remember when I was caring for Karen while she was dying and I remember how close I clung to the Father in such a hard time in my life and I remember as much as it hurt I was thanking Him because of the joy I was experiencing in being so close to Him. I actually asked the Lord to not take the pain away because I knew that I would remove myself (sinful self) from His fellowship gradually, eventually. I asked Him why does it have to be so bad in order for it to be so good? 5 yrs later I do long for that special closeness I once had but too scared for what I might have to endure to be there. With all that said, I am actually happy, even envious, of what you are experiencing right now. And oh to experience it at this season . . . Easter. I Love you Tim, thank you for being obedient to Christ and being His servant because in doing so you are a blessing to me, which causes me to lift my eyes to Him once again. Jackie Y.

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    • Jackie, Thank you for your encouragement.

      I remember well the time that you spoke about – with Karen – and how much Christ was speaking to you during that season of pain. It is odd that, for some strange reason, we are able to hear Christ more clearly during those times of sorrow and pain. In suffering, there is an opening of the soul that occurs that simply doesn’t happen any other way. Amazingly, it is during these extended seasons of struggle that our faith matures and our vision and enjoyment of the Gospel is made so incredibly sweet. In some way, all of this works together to prepare us for heaven. I can’t wait for that great “gettin’ up morning!”

      Also know that I love you too – in fact, the whole Yarborough clan is so dear to me and my family. Thanks again for the free Chick-fil-A the other day. You guys are awesome!

      Tim

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