Editor’s Note: We’re taking a week off from live gatherings at The Table. A perfect storm of health issues, folk out of town, Father’s Day events and Graduation celebrations made it seem like the right call. We resume live gatherings next week (June 22, 2014). In the meantime, take in this new blog post and maybe catch up on past gatherings you may have missed in our (finally) updated YouTube channel or podcast. 

It’s been a bit of a weird week. Monday morning at about 12:30 am I experienced my first ever kidney stone. At the time I assumed I was being stabbed in the back with a knife made of hot magma and coated with lemon juice (just to make it hurt a little more). But it turned out to be a kidney stone. 

It was a day of firsts – my first ever ambulance ride, my first intravenous Dilaudid, first abdominal cat scan, first time I had to go to the ER twice in one day…really a big, happy pile of fun! The docs told me “this too shall pass” and sent me home with a notepad of prescriptions. I settled into a drug and pain laced stupor and tried to wait it out. 

A core life philosophy I have is “don’t whine about personal stuff on the internet.” I break that rule sometimes, but generally try not to add to the cacophony of “I just stubbed my toe on cement – why is life so hard!” posts that clutter our news feed these days. So I didn’t hit up Facebook. I did pray. A lot. If you have had these things, you know the kinds of prayers. You confess every sin you can think of just in case this is divine judgement (thanks hyper-religious upbringing). You beg, plead, bargain, and then just whimper. The Bible doesn’t have a description of “whimper” prayers, but I think when Paul talked about “groanings which cannot be uttered”, it’s possible he had just passed a kidney stone. I sure did a lot of groaning. 

I saw my doctor Wendesday morning, and we agreed that if this stone had not passed by our 10:30 am appointment the next day, we would schedule surgery. I went home facing indescribable pain and the specter of an operation. I had hit a couple folk up on text to let them know what was going on, and they were definitely praying on my behalf. But I suddenly felt the overwhelming need to broadcast. To activate a wider network. To call in reinforcements. Time to break the no FB whining rule. I posted this just after 10am on Wednesday:

I have my first ever kidney stone. Wheee!!!! Monday I also got my first ever ambulance ride and spent about 8 hours in 2 different ERs. Hasn’t passed, so might need surgery. Would appreciate your prayers, especially for Stacey, who has to take up all my slack! — feeling sick.

And so very many people did respond. And so very many of them agreed to pray. 

Late that night (11pm), I experienced the worst pain of the whole week. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end – the final two hours of agony as the stone travelled its final few inches. I fell asleep around 1am, and woke up at 6am with zero pain (and, not to be gross, but was able to retrieve the offending calcium rock as proof of deliverance and for transport to the lab for analysis). I met with the doc and then went right to work. Today I am finally past most of the side effects of being on narcotics for three days and have a newfound love for drinking lots of water (which will probably lessen the risk of these in the future). 

Some will say that’s just a coincidence. The thing was on it’s way, and it passed naturally. It wasn’t immediately vaporized by lightning bolts from heaven when the Facebook Prayer Chain was activated. Those of us who walk and talk with Jesus and have experienced God’s miraculous intervention in our lives know it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes He answers with fire, sometimes a small voice no one else hears. But always with a purpose. I’ve seen many miracles and experienced divine healing personally many times in my life, including this week. 

It was a reminder to me that we ought to allow our family of faith to lift us up in prayer. Jesus and His followers taught us to pray when we are in need, in pain, or in trouble. And they taught us to do so corporately, as a group – to support each other by bringing the needs of others to Jesus and believing in faith for His answer. When we pray for others, it lifts us above our own circumstances – by focusing on the needs of others we find that we grow ourselves. 

I realized a little too late in the week that I had forgotten that I needed other prayers to join mine – that this was a moment for team supplication (a fancy word for “praying hard”). But don’t worry – a couple extra days of kidney stone pain can be a pretty good memory aid, so I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon (pauses to drink more water).

I want to encourage us all to reach out to others in our community of faith – via Facebook, text, carrier pigeon or even (gasp) telephone call – when you are in need. And let’s all take the opportunity to lift each other up in prayer (as you did for me this week). Prayer – it’s powerful, effective, and even more so in groups!

Hope to see you next Sunday night!