What You Can Learn About Yourself From An ACL Tear?

After 4 different doctors & an MRI, I finally got the truth…


I wish I could say it happened as I was running from rebels after preaching the Gospel in a closed country. But the truth is it happened in Senegal while playing basketball with some missionaries I went to visit. It wasn’t even a great play, just jumping up for a rebound that I missed.

But, the whole thing got me wondering… What lesson might the Lord be showing me by allowing such a significant injury to happen in such an insignificant way?

I was completely unprepared for the unexpected and convicting insight I received..

Here’s the rest of the story…

I could tell by the level of pain and freaky instability that this was no ordinary sprain. So I went to urgent care when I got back and got it checked.The doc took an x-ray, pronounced me fine and told me to follow up with my primary care doc. I followed up with him and he sent me to an occupational medicine doc who twisted, pulled, pushed and flexed my knee in every conceivable way and also pronounce me fine and ordered a month of physical therapy – just for good measure.

I obediently went to PT for a month all the time sensing that there was still something wrong. After 4 weeks and no improvement they finally sent me to an Orthopedic Sports Medicine doctor. He examined me and said my problem was most likely a torn meniscus and ordered an MRI to confirm. Lo and behold, when the results came back the diagnosis was a torn ACL!

When I finally sat down with a surgeon (four months after the injury), I asked him why had 3 competent, well educated doctors had all misdiagnosed my condition. He responded with something I’ll never forget. He said, “Your knee has gotten so good at compensating for the broken part that even the experts can’t tell what’s really going on deep inside.”

That’s when the lesson hit me…_

“We can get so good at compensating for our brokenness that no one can really tell what’s going on deep inside of us anymore!”


The Surgeon went on to say…

I had the option of NOT having surgery and JUST LIVING WITH the problem. He said I would gradually learn to avoid all the high impact sports I love, begin to accept new limitations and ultimately function at a much lower level that I was designed to. OR I could have the surgery, which was very painful and came with a demanding 9 month recovery. If I endured the pain, put in the work, and got it fixed my knee would be as good as new, maybe even a little better.

It made me wonder…

How many of us are walking around with significant brokenness deep inside our hearts? Maybe we’ve gotten so good at compensating for our issues (secret sins, unspoken fears, unforgiveness & bitterness) that even the experts can’t tell what’s going on deep inside of us. We probably don’t even know what it is — we can just tell that it is something serious that causes a freaky instability. Maybe we’ve opted out of God’s surgery because of the necessary pain, demanding recovery and the long time involved in getting better. Maybe we’ve backed away form the high impact ministry we love, have accepted new limitations and are functioning at a much lower level that we were designed to function.

What about you?

Have you gotten so good at compensating for your brokenness that no one really knows what’s going on deep inside?

  • Let the Holy Spirit do an MRI on your heart and show you what’s really going on (Ps. 139:23-24)
  • Sit down with the Surgeon of your soul and talk to Him about the options and consequences (James 1:5)
  • Make a courageous decision to address the issue and get it fixed. Even though it will hurt and take time to heal, you’ll be stronger as a result (Rom. 5:1-5)

12 thoughts on “What You Can Learn About Yourself From An ACL Tear?

  1. George,

    What a great insight! I lived in Alabama and
    worked for that Orthopedic doctor. And know
    I live in Las Vegas hiding those feelings I don’t
    want anyone to see. I’m taking card of my mom
    Who has cancer and I don’t want her to die,
    Yet at the same time hurting onside so bad I
    Cry myself to sleep every night. I continue to
    make bad decisions… And then I get up and back on the right path. My heart is torn!!!

  2. Oh George, I helped many a patient recover from ACL reconstruction!! Great insights, although I do not know ANYONE who was “as good as new, maybe even a little better” physically, but mentally and spiritually YES! Nothing like an injury to open your eyes, that’s why I loved Sports Medicine so much!!


  3. Thank you for your post George. Yes, I spent 25 years trying to compensate for the brokenness that comes with a teen pregnancy and multiple abortions. I looked good on the outside, but inside the hurts were deep. I have never regretted my decision to allow the Supreme Surgeon to open my heart and fix the hurt. Now I am stronger than ever and able to encourage others to do the same.

  4. Thanks George. The Heavenly Surgeon has been doing some deep, deep work on me lately and, although difficult, it is so worth it. He knows exactly where the knife needs to go, it’s amazing. He knows and can truly heal the bent and broken areas to free us up and fix us. We all have torn places. I’m really looking forward to Elevate.

  5. That is a great story and so true of how so many of us learn to compensate for our brokeness and simply fight our way through life enduring the pain I myself became an expert at hiding my brokeness . Very insightful thankyou!

  6. George, God has bestowed upon you the amazing ability to see the spiritual in the natural, and bring it to life for others! Great post.

    Miss you guys! Blessings to the babies and Nan. Allie Sterner

  7. God led me to your find your article… your story is just like mine. God bless you for helping me to see it in a different way.

  8. it’s a coping mechanism when people don’t always really want to know, “keep things light” …we hide, we don’t want to dump~ burden our community. It’s sad that we haven’t always learned “bearing with other burdens” as the hands & feet. So, we suffer.

  9. Better late than never. Learning who u can trust when you can only trust The supreme is key also. learning to be superficial b.c of the lack of hands & feet bearing the burdens of the weak for fear of “dumping/actual neediness”…not just for appearance sake, may contribute to walling off & suffering without community. God shows you that no peolpe can help you when you are in the desert-when you are not in the “clickish” self-depricating circles that say “look how special I am, God is choosing to use me”.
    To God be the glory.
    When you were unloveable by man- yet He loved you.

    God is the only person who can heal, and sometimes he. uses uses the most “undesireable” people in man’s standards to do so

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