Thursday, March 11, 2010
It’s easy to ignore the still small voice. The twinge. The pang. Work through the pain, and the pain will go away. Until one day you push a little too far and something snaps.
Still, it’s no big deal. Just back off for a while and it will sort itself out. But one night you wake up and your hand is numb and tingling. It happens again. And again. Finally you make a doctor’s appointment. She examines your arm, applies pressure in a variety of ways. Your symptoms seem to indicate a combination of overuse injuries. She also takes a blood sample, prescribes two weeks’ rest and an anti-inflammatory.
Rest? What does that mean. You lay off the upper-body weights, but that’s about it. Life must go on. Meanwhile, the pain increases. The blood test comes back normal except for a low positive for auto-immune antibodies. It could mean something or it could mean nothing at all.
By now shifting gears in your car even hurts, but your body has always obeyed you in the past. Surely this is nothing.
You play piano for the Sunday morning service, just like you have for decades. But something is definitely wrong. Your arm aches. Your hand is numb. You barely make it through the set. The next morning, you wake up with an arm so stiff and sore, the pain nauseates you. You almost faint.
Rest is no longer optional.
You stop working out completely. You can’t play piano or guitar. You can’t do laundry or housework. No shooting or processing photographs. You can’t even drive your own car. Forget about spending hours on the computer, writing, blogging, tweeting, facebooking. You can only type left handed.
You ice your elbow for fifteen minutes every hour. You have a lot of time to think. A lot of time to pray. When almost all the ways you busy yourself day to day are suddenly stripped away, you tend to take stock. Your values and priorities line up for inspection, and you discover how selfishly focused you are, how much you’ve come to rely on the strength of your own right arm.
It’s a sobering revelation, and it reminds you once again how kind, good, and patient is your merciful God. You thank Him for His faithfulness. You get still before Him, and you pray, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant is listening.”
And then you wait.
(Yes, I typed this post left handed. I'd appreciate your prayers as I navigate this new adventure with God. Also, please pray as I travel to Indiana this weekend to speak at a church. My topic? God’s redemptive power in suffering. Don’t you love His timing and sense of humor?)