Arthritis is a real drag. As active as you would like to be this day or any, if you are weighted down with joints that are sometimes swollen and often stiff, the day always seems sometime a bit longer, somehow harder to bear.
I’ve been an arthritis sufferer for years. It set in when I was fairly young and crept insidiously slow through almost every joint in my body through the years. Now, in my fifties, it is no longer that vague soreness that sets in after splitting some wood or climbing a ladder. It has come out of the closet, so to speak, and made itself known. Sometimes the knuckles on my hands are so sore I can’t touch them at all. Work or no, it really doesn’t matter. Where once the disease was a distant shadow following far behind me whenever I exerted, now it is a pretty constant companion; an unwelcome guest who just doesn’t know when to leave.
I have often wondered from time to time what my life would have been like had I never known this interloper. What projects might I have accomplished had I been better able to spend eight hours instead of five because I was free of the stiffness and pain? Imagine all of the work that could be done, if the hardship had been less. A famous evangelist told the following incident: “I have a friend who in a time of business recession lost his job, a sizable fortune, and his beautiful home. To add to his sorrow, his precious wife died; yet he tenaciously held to his faith -- the only thing he had left. One day when he was out walking in search of employment, he stopped to watch some men who were doing stonework on a large church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. ‘Where are you going to put that?’ he asked. The workman said, ‘Do you see that little opening up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this stone down here so that it will fit in up there.’ Tears filled my friend’s eyes as he walked away, for the Lord had spoken to him through that laborer whose words gave new meaning to his troubled situation.” (Our Daily Bread.)
“Cut to fit!” I guess when you put it that way, the work that could have been done had things been different is really not that important. It’s hard sometimes to realize that God uses sickness to get the job done the way He wants it to be done, not the way we think it ought to be done. The Bible tells us that “the Lord disciplines those He loves” (Hebrews 12:6). God chastens for a purpose and it is often a purpose that we are not privy to. Simply, good health and bad health are merely tools for the One who has created all things and continues to perfect it according to His plan. He is the Master Craftsman and we, merely the stone in His hands.
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