My pain! Yes, I just said it. I am thankful for my pain. With Thanksgiving coming so quickly this year, it’s time we ponder our blessings, make our thanksgiving list and prepare to answer the traditional, round the table before we dive into the turkey question: “What are you thankful for this year?”
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was not a happy day; however, as a result of daily pain and physical limitations I am truly better for it. How’s that? Let me list the ways:
- I cry out for help. There are some days I can barely get out of bed. And it’s usually on my busiest days. I am learning to cry out to God every morning from inside my pain, much like Jonah from the belly of the great fish. Jonah 2:1-2 says, “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” I am quick to call on the Lord, but I am also quick to call on others for help. I am blessed with my FP4H prayer partners. I have set aside my pride and send out prayer alerts when I need that extra measure of strength or grace.
- I pray for others more. I have never been a great prayer warrior. I have never prayed for people like I should. I honestly thought I had an out because I scored so badly for intercessory prayer on my spiritual gifts test. This pain has changed that. I pray for others, especially those in pain. God has shown me through my own personal pain that suffering is real, and we need each other. Our prayers make a difference.
- I am more thoughtful and understanding in the way I connect with others. I have been a fitness instructor for 23 years and I have long rejected the words “I can’t.” I now understand those words on a deep level. There are things I cannot do. I am a better instructor to those who are decondition or suffer from an injury or disease. I believe there are times when we just “can’t” and it’s okay.
- I am now a serious contender. Col. 1:28-29 says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” The Apostle Paul was suffering in prison, but he stayed on mission for the Gospel in the strength he had. I may not be able to do what I did before, but I can do something. We cannot use pain as an excuse for lazy or bad behavior. I’m serious about my workouts and my eating habits. I do not use my disease as an excuse not to work out. My disease is a reason I have to work out. Teaching cardio classes and strength training keeps my heart and my body strong. The more I move the better I am. I go in the strength I have, and He meets me there.
- It’s making me mature. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2). No more whiney baby.
I am doing my best to follow the biblical command laid out in I Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I don’t give thanks for RA, I give thanks in the RA. I know I don’t have to be strong if He is strong and He is always strong!