I cringed as I tightened the straps that would hold the brace securely around my body for the night. Several weeks earlier, a doctor had detected the curve in my spine that identified me as a teen with scoliosis. Every night for the next year, I would wear a special brace that was designed to “fix” me.
The hard, plastic shell encased my torso from armpit to hip. At each point where my back naturally curved, the brace curved in the opposite direction, forcing my spine into a straight line. The edges of the foam-coated plastic dug into my sides and bruised my hips, and the constricting walls around my ribs prevented me from breathing deeply. I felt trapped. But the physical discomfort was nothing compared to seeing myself in the mirror. The brace exposed what I could otherwise ignore: I was imperfect and deformed.
Tears blurred my vision, and I began to feel like a victim of injustice. Wasn’t I “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (Psa 139:14–15)? Why hadn’t God, who took such meticulous care in creation, created a spine for me that would stand straight? If I were precious to Him, why would He allow me to suffer?
It was tempting to question God or to dismiss Him as some far-away puppeteer who didn’t understand the reality of pain. But I knew that Christ had suffered; the extent of His anguish made my curved back and year of discomfort appear laughable. Yet, I hoped God would understand that hardships can be faith shaking.
Revelation confirmed this hope: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast [to] what you have” (Rev 3:10–11). Christ understands the temptation to question Him in times of struggle. But He also commends His followers when they keep the faith while suffering. He tells us to endure our struggles with patience.
The first time I wore my brace, the night felt never-ending. Every position revealed a new tinge of pain and the memory of my bent reflection sparked doubt. Time ticked by, measured in tosses and turns. But eventually I began to understand that patiently enduring was only half the answer.
Revelation 7:16–17 provides hope in the midst of trial: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Ultimately, my physical distress would come to an end. The morning always came, and when that prescribed year was over, I threw away the brace for good. It was a small reminder of Christ’s promise: eventually, all suffering will end. In the meantime, our job is this: keep the faith, patiently endure hardship, and wait until morning.
Biblical references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).