When Healing Hurts

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
(Malachi 4:2  ESV)

Intramuscular, multiple injection sites, high volumes, potency, this is gonna hurt. These were my thoughts as I left the veterinarian’s office with a two-dose, $236 bottle of powerful antibiotics to treat my herd bull “Mavric”. Needing to deliver a 120ml dose of the powerful antibiotic, along with a 20ml dose of a pain reliever, meant a total of five injections. Typically, I give two 2ml and one 5ml injections all year.

Because a cow’s hide is thick and tough, I normally use a one-inch long 18-gauge needle to administer vaccines subcutaneously in the neck. Comparatively, I give myself insulin injections using a 5mm long 31-gauge needle. Like humans, any injection is painful, but I’ve always done my best to minimize pain. Humane treatment of all the livestock here at the Cross-Dubya ranch is mandatory.

It’s been a challenging weather year, moving from muddy fields one day to ultra-hot days with humidity above seventy percent for the next. In both cases, it can be rough on pastured animals. We try to inspect them all daily for signs of trouble.

As always seems to happen, problems crop up at the most inconvenient times. In this case, I noticed my buddy “Mavric” (my gentle giant) had come up lame on Saturday. Having turned him back with his herd a week earlier, I remember remarking to Mr. John. “He either stepped in an armadillo hole or came down off a cow wrong”, I surmised. “Let’s watch him.”

With little swelling through the day when we would check on him, I wasn’t too concerned, although his limp was becoming more noticeable. Overnight, I decided we’d try to isolate him in the barn for a few days of rest. When “Mavric” doesn’t beat everyone else to the feed trough each morning, you know something is off. On Sunday morning, he lay there in the pasture looking unhappy and wouldn’t even come to eat. I knew then this was serious.

Bringing him “breakfast in bed”, I could finally coax him to stand. When he did, it near bout broke my heart. His swollen left-front leg was almost twice its size. It was clear my pal was hurting. “It’s either broke, severely sprained, or he’s got an infection, Mr. John.” I didn’t like any of the options. “Mavric” is a gentle soul, so I’ve always been able to touch him all over safely. Still, with a 2300 lb. bull, you keep your head on a swivel. On Saturday, I didn’t feel any heat in his fetlock and carpal joints (a human’s ankle and knee). The next day was a different story. “Let’s get him in the barn”, I hurriedly urged.

It took us a couple of hours as he hobbled a few steps, laid down, and rested, but we moved him the 120 yards to the barn. With hay, a fan, and plenty of water, we let him rest. It was good to see him resting, but I needed to get a closer look at that leg. Kneeling beside him, he allowed me to feel his hoof, inspect the interdigital space between his claws (toes), and pastern. Did you know cows have toes? Yep, two of them are on each foot, which is how they maintain balance so well.

“Mavric” didn’t react to my applying pressure to the different areas, which would’ve been a sign of infection. I didn’t feel any sores or wounds. Perhaps it’s a bad sprain, let him rest and I’ll get some Banamine (realized I was out) to make him more comfortable tomorrow.

Checking on him Monday evening told a different story. It was hot and humid, but seeing my herd bull sweating (even though he was in front of the barrel fan) was not a good sign. Sprains don’t cause fever, I thought, so I knew it needed more investigation. When he stood, it was on his toe, which told me where I needed to do a closer inspection.

I’m not crazy about getting on all fours and sticking my head under such a massive animal. An errant roundhouse kick from his rear leg could do serious damage to this slow-moving old man. Still, that’s exactly what I did. As I lowered myself to the ground, I picked up the distinct smell of infection. Instantly, I realized we were dealing with foot rot. Just below his pastern (back of his foot), a wound had opened. Taking photos with my phone, I knew that Tuesday morning meant a visit to my large animal vet.

Confirming with my veterinarian, I advised that loading and moving such a giant, especially a wounded one, would not be easy. The vet agreed and shared that not all foot rot requires extensive debridement and veterinary intervention. “Let’s try it Doc”, I exclaimed with hope in my voice. The massive dose of the powerful antibiotic concerned me.

Because of the sheer volume (30cc at each site) and intramuscular delivery, I opted to use a one-and-a-half-inch 14-gauge needle. It’s a “monster”, but I knew I wanted to get into that muscle and deliver the high volume of medicine quickly. I hated the thought of how I might hurt my buddy. Sometimes, healing hurts.

Because of his size, “Mavric” won’t fit down the alley to my squeeze chute, so we can both be safe. Instead, I must pen him in my tub to vaccinate him. As luck would have it, he faced the wrong way, but because he was in such pain, I injected his rump, between the pin and hook bones, with the antibiotics. Accessible, meaty, and fast. Not ideal since I knew the powerful drug would cause localized meat damage, but I reminded myself that he’s my herd bull and not a beef cow.

With each injection from the huge needle, the drug burned and caused pain for my bull pal. As I was changing needles and refilling the syringe, I recalled how “Mavric” always comes up to me whenever he sees me. Whether in the pasture or along the fence, I know he’s coming over for a head scratch. I wondered, hurting him so, will he ever trust me again? That’s when God reminded me that sometimes, healing hurts.

While healing can hurt, the cure is what we need to focus on. #Healing #Cure #Hurt #Faith Share on X

In my life, I’ve had to trust God to heal many things. It’s been painful as He’s had to break me and allow me to hurt to remove sins of pride and addiction from my life. Do I trust him still? Absolutely. In fact, because He has healed me from mental, physical, and spiritual needs, I trust Him more.

Lamenting how I had hurt my buddy with those injections, I thought of how the intraocular injections into my eyes come with their own pain. To prevent complete blindness, I’ll continue to endure them until the doctors either correct the condition or can do no more. It hurts, but in some ways, it’s healing or at least slowing the progression of the illness. Sometimes, healing hurts.

In my journey of spiritual growth, there’s been pain, but the result of increased faith and reliance upon God makes the pain forgettable. I pray that “Mavric” will forget the pain I caused and trust me again. Do cows think like humans? I doubt it; but if the momentary pain I caused relieves the pain he’s been experiencing, it’ll be worth it all.

Will I have to do these injections again in a few days? I wonder if he’ll even let me pen him up again? Will I have to call the vet out to sedate and treat him? All questions that remain unanswered. Rather than worry, I must stand on God’s promises and pray the words from Jeremiah 30:17.

For I will restore health to you
And heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, …

As you spend time with God this week, ask Him to show you any areas where you need healing. Then ask Him to prepare you for the healing process. It isn’t always fast and painless, but it’s always worth it.

God’s blessings,


Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.


72 thoughts on “When Healing Hurts”

  1. Praying for you and Mavric—that he will be healed and that you’ll see his love and faith in you is still there in the trust he has in your care for him. J.D. I always love your posts and the lessons you leave for us to ponder throughout the week. Thank you for the time you put into your posts and for walking in obedience to God to share encouragement with all of us. Appreciate you, friend.

    1. Aww shucks. Thank you Ms. Tammy. He allowed me to love on him some last night. He ain’t out of the woods yet, but we’re trusting God he’ll get there. Thank you for the prayers ma’am.

  2. What a touching story, J.D. The thing that makes it so moving is not just the pain that your “pal” (love that way of referring to him) was going through, but the pain you felt in having to add to it in order to initiate the healing process. And speaking of which, one of the things that both of us have learned over the years is that healing is almost always a process, not an instantaneous event. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, at this point, I’ve had 6 total joint replacements (4 hips and 2 knees) and none of them proved to be been painless exercises. To begin with, pain was a major indicator that the surgeries were even necessary. Then in every case a different kind of pain was waiting in the immediate aftermath and still more in the physical therapy that had to follow. I rejoice in the amazing genius of God in designing these incredible bodies He made for us in a way that made healing and restoration possible, and I’ve come to appreciate the vital role that pain plays in that healing process.
    One of my loose definitions of pain for years has been that it’s God’s way of getting our attention. Whether we’re talking about mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical pain, the message is the same. It’s an alarm that tells us in unmistakeable terms that something is wrong with the system and that we need to fix it. When God’s design at any level is functioning the way He meant it to function, it’s painless. That realization, always fills my heart with rejoicing, Brother, because ultimately, that’s where we flawed followers of Jesus are heading. Our amazing Creator designed all the processes in our lives to work in a way that would fulfill His will and fill us with that sense of peace and harmony that He calls, “shalom”. Sin screwed that up in the Garden, and we’ve been wracked with pain ever since, but as you declared so clearly, though the process might still hurt at times, God ‘s healing has already been assured.
    God bless you for the way you used this painful event to inject some joy and optimism into our lives this morning. Mrs. Diane and I will be praying that you and Mavric will be back to normal soon, and that the awful heat will pass with no additional crises.

    1. Yessir, with shoulders, knees, and an ankle here, I can sure appreciate your comments. I love your thought, “Pain is God’s way of getting our attention.” You helped me recall something they used to tell me in Ranger school, “Pain tells you that you’re still alive.” Of course, they would also tell us, “There’s a difference between pain and injury. If you’re injured, we’ll get you help, but if you’re not and we get you help, you’re going to experience whole new levels of pain.” LOL

      As “flawed followers” (love that term sir), we must undergo the refinement of sanctification so that God can mold us to become what He always meant for us to be. Well said sir. Thank you so much for your encouraging reply. I sure hope that when I grow up, I learn to write as well as you. What a wonderful way you have of turning a phrase.

    1. Me too Ms. Gail. This doesn’t happen often with his breed of cow, but it can happen. I think the weird, dynamic weather conditions we’ve experienced this year has only made things worse. We deal with it, one day at a time. Thank you ma’am.

  3. Poor Mavric! What a shame that this sweet guy is hurting so! Yes, healing can hurt, but the eventual relief from the pain is more than worth the journey. I do think animals understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Mavric may be put off now by the things you’re having to do to assist him, J. D., but I can’t imagine him not eventually understanding that you did all those things to make him better.
    Blessings to all!

    1. I suspect they do also Ms. Martha. I’m not sure their reasoning processes are the same as ours, but I know their souls experience emotions in much the same way we do. And I hope you’re right and he can forgive me and trust me again. He’s my 2300 lb. buddy.

  4. Kathy Collard Miller

    JD, you most likely wouldn’t be surprised at the pained look on my face as I read about Mavric’s pain and yours. I love your spiritual application. Sadly, so many people turn away from God or have a wrong beliefs about Him because what they interpret as His meanness is actually His needed and healing “shot of antibiotics” and other “ministrations” that will make our lives more healthy and our future delightful in heaven. I pray your buddy will be better soon and won’t hold anything against you. I hope to meet that gentle giant.

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. Appreciate your empathy and understanding ma’am. He’s doing lots better. In fact, so much so that I let “his ladies” back in with him yesterday. Am hoping he’s back on the job soon. God’s blessings ma’am.

  5. You are right, J.D. While healing is not usually fast and painless, it’s always worth it. A lesson worth remembering. I hope Mavric is up and about and feeling fine soon.

  6. Poor Mavric! May God bring healing to him. Such an important less on for us all – sometimes healing hurts. But it is so worth it. I don’t know how many times I have said to my husband there are things I would go through all over again for the lessons learned. God is so faithful and knows exactly what we need to heal. I so appreciate your ranch lessons, J.D.! God is using your ranch to teach us all powerful truths! Blessings!

  7. Oh, J.D. I felt your pain knowing how hard it was to hurt your animal even for his own benefit. Getting God’s medicine (His Word) to kill the spiritual bacteria that infects our souls is not an enjoyable event either. But we do heal from this and we do need it. Well said, my friend. What a learning lesson you shared.

    1. How true Ms. Barb. Sometimes, God’s truths can be a bitter pill to swallow, but when we let Him do His work in us, we are all the more better for it. Well said ma’am. And thank you for your kindness.

  8. I love this message, JD. I love your heart for this great beast. Our animals have distinct personalities and know what love is. Love hurts. Healing hurts. God only lets us hurt in His love for us. God bless and heal.

    1. They surely do Ms. Nancy. As “Big Mav” began to feel better, he seemed to acknowledge that all was forgiven and he allowed me to bow my head, placing it near his poll, and praying with him again. That and scratching him behind the ears are good signs that trust is being restored.

  9. You’re like a loving papa to your animals. You show compassion when they’re hurt, but you know you may also cause them to experience a little pain, for them to get well.
    Immensely greater is our heavenly Father’s compassion and love for us!
    Hope Mavric is back to scampering about the fields soon.

  10. Edwina E Cowgill

    I do hope Maveric will heal with no additional injections or treatments needed.

    I am learning just how much healing can hurt. But God…is with me every step of the way!


    1. Thank you Ms. Edwina. While I had to give him more shots, and I hated that as much as I did the first time, they have helped and he is healing. You are so right. He is with us each step of our journey.

  11. There’s a lot of truth here. Often times, healing isn’t the quick, easy fix we wish for. Many times it’s a process. Healing is the goal and we have to trust the Healer to do what’s necessary to accomplish it.

  12. Yes, sir. Healing often hurts. Good message, and I always love to read updates about your animals on the ranch. Praying for all of you who need a healing touch there, with as little pain as possible.

  13. I hurt for your poor bull, but I’m glad he has a good poppa who takes such good care of him. I bet he’ll continue to trust you, even if you have to hurt him with those needles again. Just as you said, we still trust God even though we go through painful times.

    My mother had wet macular degeneration and had to get a shot every month for a long time. So I can relate to your story about those needles. I’m sorry you have to go through that therapy, but the pain will definitely be worth it.

    We can trust Him every time with no regrets. Prayers for you, for Mavric, and for this Texas heat to be over soon. Take care, dear brother.

    1. Amen. Am told this is similar to wet MD, and am hoping these shots will help. Not sure how many different medicines your mama had to go through, but I’ve run out of options on right eye. As you said, we can trust Him every time. Thank you for all the prayers my friend. God’s blessings.

    1. Thank you ma’am. I sometimes wonder how life would have been if I had started farming and ranching sooner. Then I think of all the blessings He gave me away from the ranch and all the things He did to prepare for the role He wanted me in. He’s in the “Preparing Business” isn’t He? And we thought He was only a “Restoration Specialist.” 😀 We forget, But God!

  14. I was touched by your story of Mavric. What a good parallel. It’s so true that the bad news has to come before the good news, the treatment before healing, the discipline before the benefits, the hard conversation before the reconciliation, the trial before the endurance. This reminds of Lamentations 3:22-23: “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

    1. Thank you Ms. Barbara. It’s been a real blessing coming to this farm/ranch and allowing God to use it as His classroom, and use me to share the many lessons He is teaching. Be well sweet friend.

  15. Awww, poor guy! I pray he is doing better. It is rough having an animal down let alone a bull, I can’t imagine. But, your story rings true in our human, relationship with our shepherd–sometimes the healing hurts before it gets better. Thank you, J.D.!

    1. Yes ma’am. He may not be 100 percent yet, but he sure is a lot better than he was two weeks ago. We’re going to be watching him close and doctoring him as we can. I’m so grateful for the pain of remaking me that God is willing to put me through. I’m not sure how many more times He’ll have to throw me back on his Potter’s Wheel, break me down, and remake me until He gets me just right, but I’ll gladly bear His breaking because I already know what lays ahead. Shalom sweet friend.

  16. You’ve been putting yourself down my friend, for not catching Mavric’s condition sooner, but it sounds to me as if you’ve been right on it. You’re patient and caring with your favorite bull and your gentle and compassionate care show it. Praying for him and for you. Such a wonderful lesson you share in this message, “Healing can hurt.” And those of us that have been broken and poured out as God worked to heal us can attest to that. May God bless you and your Cross-Dubya family–and a special prayer for Mavric.

  17. Yvonne Morgan

    Such a great message JD. And like Maverick, we can trust God even through the hurt. Praying for his healing

  18. Praying for Mavric and for you, too. I look forward to each of your messages. Your love for God shines through in good times and in times that aren’t so good. You truly inspire and encourage me. Have a blessed day!

  19. Having experienced both Mr Mavric’s appetite for treats and your care for Ms Barbara and me, my guess is your buddy understands well what it takes to heal. Although I’m sure you haven’t forgotten, perhaps an extra treat for the big guy will soften his disposition. I know it worked for me when Jesus gave you and Ms Diane to us for 24 hours. Carry on, sir.

  20. Not sure how I can fall in love with a bull I’ve never met but God has used your tender relationship with this precious beast to endear him to me. I shared the healing verse Jeremiah 30:17 to my bib sis and fellow authors I know who could use the encouragement. We do need to trust God in these times. When I consider that he chose to go the route of crucifixion rather than pronounce all who believe healed in his name apart from shedding of blood, I have to believe the hurt serves good purpose. Great little story here. Ms. Mary sends her prayers to you, John the Faithful, and the lil’ hurting guy!

    1. Thank you Ms. Mary. Yes, Christ chose to fulfill His own prophesy, to the point of shedding His blood for us. Did He have to? No. Did He love us enough to do so? Yes! Well said ma’am. Thank you so much for adding such richness to our conversation.

    1. Thank you Ms. LuAnn. Afraid I had to do that to him a second time, but it seems to have done the trick. He’s walking much better, the swelling is all gone, and he’s back to his old self. So very grateful that we were able to help him turn the corner and get better here on the ranch. I’ll always remember how tiny you looked (of course, you are) when you were standing next to him. LOL

  21. J.D., another powerfully written article. You are gifted at describing the details of a story to the point of the readers feeling as if we are there with you, and Mavric. Poor guy, I could almost feel his pain or at least surmise what it was like. That verse in Malachi is one of my favorites on healing and so appropriate for a rancher.

    God is all about the process while we just want the end result. Creation is a great example of this truth. So the process of healing may take longer than we want and cause more pain than we had hoped. But there’s healing in the process as much as the end result as we learn valuable lessons along the way. Hope Mavric is better and praying for your eye injections to do their job in the process.

    1. And you are far more kind than this old farmer deserves, but thank you for your kind and encouraging words Ms. Karen. Mavric is getting better after a couple of weeks. So much so that we let “his ladies” back with him last evening. Not sure who was happier. I love that; “God is all about the process while we just want the end result.” I’ll be remembering that one ma’am. God’s blessings.

  22. I hadn’t read this before the Refresh zoom meeting on thursday, so I didn’t realize then how sick Mavric is/ was. I sure hope he’s doing better by now. You’re a brave man to examine and care for a large bull, even a gentle giant like Mavric! Your spiritual take away about healing often causing pain was spot on, J.D.! Thank you.

    1. Thank you Ms. It’s always so great to see and catch up with everyone on Refresh Zoom meetings, and the added blessing of hearing author’s read and then interacting with us through Bible study Q&A is so precious. He’s doing better, but we’re not through things yet. Thank you so much for asking ma’am. And yes, being broken and recast by God on His potter’s wheel can be a painful experience, but oh the beauty that comes from it as a result. God’s blessings sweet friend.

        1. Thank you ma’am. He’s better and back with the cows now. So while calving will be up to six weeks later next spring, it still won’t be summer and they’ll be plenty of winter/spring grass for them to recover on. I’ll have to watch the calves for bloat though. Thank you again for your prayers ma’am. With his age, I’m pretty certain this will be Mavric’s last calves. I’ll pray for a beautiful and strong bull calf from him next spring so I can continue his legacy and lineage here.

  23. Dear J.D., I’m praying for your sweet buddy, Mavric. So sorry I didn’t read your post sooner. We were on vacation visiting family in Florida. Burning hot Florida. Thanks for sharing your heart with us here. While I know life can be painful at times, I’m thankful God is right there with us through it all. God bless you, my friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Joann. Mavric and I both appreciate your prayers for him. I think he’s on the mend; the swelling is almost all gone and he’s walking better, but I’ll be keeping a close watch on him. Yes, Florida summers can be stifling. I grew up there, and I can remember watching steam rise from the pavement when the 3:30pm rain shower came nearly every day. Of course, following that brief shower was the oppressive humidity. Can’t win with the weather! Blessings ma’am.

  24. What a story, J.D.! it illustrates your point wonderfully. I’m glad you had the fortitude to do what was required to bring about healing. And I’m so thankful for our Savior, who endured pain for our healing. Praying all is well now.

    1. Thank you Ms. Annie. I hate it when I have to hurt animals to help them. Note please that I used the word “hurt” and not “harm.” There’s such a difference in those two words isn’t there? God will break us to re-make us better. Satan seeks to harm us. BIG difference!

  25. Ugh! When I saw the photo and the gauge of the needle, I knew this was gonna be a rough read. I hope Mavric is better by this point with no further intervention. While it is difficult on the one to receive the antidote, there is also some amount of sympathy on the caretaker, too. But looking past the present to know what must be done for a better outcome, justifies the necessary pain. And, like you said, we must look ahead at the big picture. Yes, healing can indeed be painful. I have seen it through my friend when she dealt with abusive and mental health issues. But it was worth it.

    1. “Mavric” has recovered from this, still loves me (as much as a bull can at least), and is happy to be back in the hot tub with his ladies. The blessing, as you note, comes in having someone who’ll stand beside you as you go through that crucible with you. Am so glad that Jesus is that friend for us. He enables us to be that friend for others. God’s blessings Ms. Karen, and thank you for your comments as always ma’am. Welcome home from your latest missions trip by the way.

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