As I was reflecting upon my experience of two total knee replacements a couple of years ago and any advice I’d give to someone who is contemplating the surgery, I would summarize my approach as going from prehab to rehab. As I approached this surgery, I wanted to prepare as best I could so I went into a prehab mode of thinking – an idea I heard about from a major league baseball trainer. He said the best way to prepare for surgery is to begin rehab before the surgery, which he called “prehab.” As he pointed out, the more you do prehab the better you will do in the post-surgery rehab. It made sense to me, so I applied the principle in both my surgeries and was quite thankful for exceptionally good recoveries from both.
The “prehab to rehab” concept is not limited to the physical. Jesus even applied it spiritually in “prehab” if you please as this prepares us for what lies ahead in the form of tribulation and various trials. He also comes to us to strengthen us in “rehab” as He uses the present suffering to build us up.
John 16:33 (ESV) — 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Romans 5:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) — 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Romans 8:35–37 (ESV) — 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
This principle of prehab leading to rehab is an important Biblical principle, although not labeled as such theologically. The Bible is clear that all of us will face temptations, persecutions, tribulation and difficulties that set us back. Sometimes these moments of crisis will knock us down or maybe even bring defeat in our lack of faith response. However, by God’s grace, we can apply Biblical principles and get back in the race and even be stronger than before. Here’s the key: If we will apply the Biblical principles before we face trials and difficulties, we will be stronger in the time of difficulty; therefore, the greater will be our growth and recovery from the difficulty.
How does prehab look for a Christian? First, it begins by keeping our focus upon the author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, which flows from our faith and love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
How do you keep your focus on Him? Through prayer and the study of His word. It’s the same whether in the prehab mode or rehab mode. A believer needs to keep their focus upon Christ and that is done through prayer and meditation upon His word. That means you take advantage of every opportunity you can to hear the word proclaimed and taught, as well as every opportunity to pray in your private time with God as well as public times of prayer in the setting of the church. Look what happens when we lose our focus! Jesus calls it losing your first love. In other words, Christianity has become a “religion” of doing out of necessity, instead of doing out of love for Him for what He has done for you.
Revelation 2:3–5 (ESV) — 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
The second important part of prehab as well as rehab is living out what we are taking in through prayer and meditation of God’s word.
Luke 6:46–49 (ESV) — 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
That means great effort to not treat our devotional life as just an input or download of information. How is He changing your life by what you are reading, hearing preached, and your time in prayer? If you are still living in bitterness and unconfessed sin, God’s word does not have a place in your life and you are neither in prehab nor rehab mode – but you need to be.
Bottom line is this: don’t give up if you have fallen or you are finding yourself in great difficulty, God offers rehab through His word and through fellowship with Him via prayer. If you do not consider yourself in rehab mode at this present time, then it’s time to prehab because you can be sure it’s coming.