Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Stacy Averette

The big red numbers of the digital clock tell me it’s almost midnight. I’ve been in bed for a restless two hours tossing and turning as usual. Long hours of restful sleep have never been a part of my life.

But for the past week, knee pain has kept me awake. I’ve been training for another half-marathon and it hasn’t gone as planned. Covid interrupted the first few weeks of my training and just when I’d fully recovered and regained my pre-Covid pace, knee pain hit me hard during an early morning run.

Pain and Grace

I’ve been running for 40 years to manage stress and my weight. It’s been a somewhat successful endeavor. But in all my years of running, despite having had 5 knee surgeries that I can recall right now, I’ve never experienced knee pain while running. I’ve had to deal with stress fractures but never knee pain. I haven’t been to a doctor this week and don’t plan to go. At my age, knowing my body the way I do, I suspect my long-distance running days might be over. And I’m grieving the loss.

“The half-marathon folks will get to keep the registration fee,” I lament, as I lie staring into the dark. After tossing and turning a few more times, I slide out of bed and limp toward the kitchen. I realize my back is out of whack from all the limping.


Frederick Buechner said, “Listen to your life. Pay attention. Pay attention to what happens to you.”

What comes from that?

“Who knows? Who knows? Maybe nothing much, but maybe the secret of all secrets you need to hear may come through some event, something that happens or fails to happen.”

I believe God is always at work around me and in me and sometimes I see Him working through me. But His ways are often mysterious. As much as I try I can’t explain why He does what He does or allows what He allows. And I don’t always agree with His timing.

In August I wrote When God Speaks in Unexpected Places. Back in the summer He was speaking and I liked what He was saying, but now it feels like He’s changed His mind. I’m sad and disappointed. I’m irritable. I’m stress-eating. I feel a good cry coming on.

One day last week I cried between every patient that came to our office. It took me all day to have a good cry because I had to keep “dryin’ it up” and trying to look happy. After nine hours I finally had it out of my system.


“Ibuprofen and an ice pack should do the trick,” I think as I check the clock again. I get situated in my favorite chair with my knee elevated on a pillow and pick up the book I’ve been reading.

I began where I left off earlier this morning. The author quotes Tillich:

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life…It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment, a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, and do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.”

In the middle of a long night, God speaks in another unexpected place. I am in great pain, physical pain, and He uses it to get my attention so that He might address the restlessness in my soul. He whispers “a secret of all secrets” into my disappointment. This God-fearing woman is still the girl trying to feel accepted, trying to prove she is worthy. And He knows.

He knows I need healing beyond the request I’ve made this week: Lord, please make my knee well again.

That’s what I get for paying attention to my life, for learning to lean into the mystery of God. For letting God be God and listening when He speaks and loving my life when He says what I want to hear and being honest about the disappointment when He doesn’t.

I close my book, turn off the lamp, put the ice pack back in the fridge, and slip back into bed with the sweet peace of knowing I am accepted. I am accepted by that which is greater than me and I do know His name.

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