There was a patient in an operating room wide awake awaiting their surgery to begin. The anesthesiologist had already made his visit to the patient, during which he administered a local anesthetic to the region being operated on. The surgical assistant ensured that the particular area of operation was obstructed from the view of the patient, so as to shield their fragile self from potential shock, while the surgeon finished scrubbing up. Sterilized and ready to go, the surgeon entered his operating theatre and began working away on the patient with efficient precision.
Well underway at this point, the patient started to get fidgety and visibly frustrated. Intentionally audible sighs of impatience filled the operating room as the surgeon continued his work. “Will you get started already?” the patient blurted out unexpectedly. Confused, the surgeon stopped what he was doing, leaned back slowly, and gave the patient a gentle look of curiosity. “Sir, we have been performing your surgery for some time now,” the surgeon assured his patient, “all is going well and according to schedule.”
Agitated again after more time had elapsed, the patient inquired of the surgeon once more. “Why am I here if you aren’t going to do the surgery?” the patient asked between their childish sighs. Slightly shocked by the patient’s lack of understanding, the surgeon finished tying up the final stitches, put down his surgical tools, and stood up. “What are you doing? Are just going to quit before you start?” the patient asked anxiously. “Sir, I assure you it is finished” the surgeon responded as he removed the sheet obstructing the patient’s view.
With the surgery completed and all now in clear sight, the patient uttered the most unexpected words… “See, nothing was even done.” In a state of near speechlessness, the surgeon looked at the patient with wide eyes. “You surely can see the results of the operation. Can you not?” the surgeon finally managed to say. And with a last sigh of defeat, the patient managed one more denial: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, doctor, but I don’t feel anything.”
A couple months ago I was sitting at home in a rather emotionally down state. To be completely honest with you, I was feeling unloved, worthless, ashamed, incapable, and void of God’s presence. It was quite an unpleasant feeling. I saw the faintest light amidst my inner turmoil when I realized none of these things were at all true. However, for some reason, I had allowed myself to be convinced by my fickle feelings.
I grabbed a pen and drew a line down the middle of a piece of paper — one side for what I felt and the other side for what was factual. Within 5 minutes I felt on top of the world again. I felt myself again. I felt how God wanted me to feel again. I reflected for a while on how I could illustrate what really was happening in all of this and one picture came across my mind: You may not feel a surgery due to the anesthetics, but surely that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening before your eyes.
I love feelings and experiences—they are good things—but we often place our faith in feelings, rather than allowing experience to be a by-product of faith in truth. One thing that is for sure, we are gluttons for feelings.
We may not feel loved, but the reality is there’s nothing that can separate us from God’s love. We may feel unworthy and shameful, but the reality is Jesus bought our shame once and for all by His sacrifice on the cross, ultimately appraising us as worth the cost of death. We may feel incapable, but the reality is, not a single thing that God will’s is impossible for us. We may feel like God isn’t present, or that He isn’t working in us, but like a patient denying the surgery right before his eyes, we too often lean on the feeling of the moment to determine the reality of the moment.