Perspective is important. From a horizontal perspective it is easy to view every trial, disappointment, pain or struggle as lacking value. I never heard Mom say, “give me more heartache and physical pain, because I like to suffer.” But I also do not remember her saying, “God is unfair, unloving or unkind in what He brings into my path.” Her perspective was always one of trust in the God who knew her and knew what was best for her and for others.
For about five years I have experienced something many would call unbearable and without purpose. My skin has not been my friend. There were times last year when dying would have been preferable to the painful struggle and extreme itchiness of my skin. The red rash and dryness started on my lower arms and then spread to just about everywhere on my arms, legs, torso and head. At times it was difficult to stop scratching, causing even more damage and even some infections that required antibiotics. At one point, before my first trip to Dehradun India, I questioned if going to a different culture with limited bathing options was a good idea. As it turned out, God made the journey possible and it also changed some of my perspectives about what suffering looks like.
I can now see glimpses of the way my mom viewed her difficult days. Because of my skin problems, Cindie has given me good advice and help in changing what I eat. Friends and family have been kind and have offered to help in many ways. One unexpected blessing is that my pain has led to less pain for Cindie. As I started to steer clear of gluten in my diet, Cindie started cooking and baking differently. Recently she also started to refrain from eating gluten, and the results in reducing her joint pain have been remarkable. My skin problem was God’s mercies in disguise.
My dietary changes have also caused me to lose weight and my cholesterol is now “normal” without a prescription. My general health, despite my skin issues, is better according to my primary care physician. I feel younger and more energetic, at least for a guy approaching his 70’s. Laura Story says it well in her song “Blessings.” Some of the lines are:
The song goes on to speak of a deeper truth…this world is not my home. There are thirsts I have this world cannot and will not satisfy. I need the reminders that I really don’t want to be less than I was meant to be. Esther Kerr Rusthoi got it right: It will be worth it all, when I see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoGcuPAFso0
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2 (ESV)
God has used your skin problem to put what I thought was pain and suffering into perspective. God also reminds me to be in prayer for you, which blesses me as I communicate with the Father.
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Your suffering sounds so much like Job’s. I’m glad it turned out to be a blessing for both you and Cindie. I had a similar story. I was sick all the time in high school, although I tried so hard stay healthy – “It wasn’t fair!” But having developed and kept a good lifestyle as a very young person, I am now remarkably healthy for my age.
PS I remember hearing that Laura Story wrote that song when her husband was diagnosed with cancer while they were still newlyweds.