I enjoy running for exercise, and to keep me motivated to run, I sign up for short running events around where I live. Louisville has a robust running community and a lot of events to choose from. But as much as I enjoy running these days, I don’t think I would enjoy it nearly as much if I had not injured my right knee.
The injury happened a couple years ago. I was jumping around with my kids at a trampoline park, and near the end of the session, I came down hard on a stiff trampoline and felt pain in the knee. I stopped jumping and took it easy. It was tender, but it seemed to recover quickly, so I thought I was fine. But for months afterward, there were times where it hurt or didn’t feel right. Then one day the knee locked up, and then I learned the truth: I had torn my meniscus and my ACL. I needed surgery.
Fortunately, I was connected with a surgeon who did a great job on my knee. But I had to stay off the knee for weeks before the surgery, and then I had months of physical therapy after that. When I reached the end of my therapy, the therapists cleared me to walk, jog, and run, provided that I started slow and stuck to smooth level surfaces at first. The last thing they wanted me to do was to fall and re-injure the knee.
So I started out just walking the parking lot around where I work, slowly building muscle back in my right leg. It was a painfully slow process, and I longed to be able to move faster. I improved to the point where I could jog a bit, and I eventually began training for a 5K. I had to train slower than normal, but it felt good to be making progress and getting stronger every week.
I’ve now completed two 5K races and I’m running over 10 miles a week, and it feels wonderful. I still remember how weak I felt after my surgery, and so I’m grateful to be able to get outside and run down the road at a decent pace. I’m looking forward to running the Grand Slam 4 Miler in Louisville at the end of July.
My knee injury and recovery also helped me see a Biblical principle in a fresh new light. Back when I was just beginning my knee therapy, I happened to be reading Hebrews. One day this passage jumped out at me in a way I hadn’t seen before:
Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. (Hebrews 12:9-13 CSB)
According to the Bible, we’re all banged up spiritually because of our sin. Yet we tend to keep plowing forward, making the same mistakes and compounding the injury to our souls. Once we meet Jesus and believe the good news, then God begins the process of healing us; but that doesn’t mean we will instantly become whole and holy in all our ways. And if we keep trying to overcome our weaknesses by brute strength, we’ll just keep injuring ourselves and putting ourselves further behind.
So when God graciously shows us our weaknesses, we should take steps to guard ourselves from falling. There’s no shame in avoiding compromising places, adjusting our habits, and making ourselves accountable to people we trust. In fact, doing such things helps us submit to God so that he can complete the healing process and train us to be strong.