Last Sunday I announced in church that I have had ongoing neck pain for about two months that has affected my ability to study effectively at my computer. Dr. Songer was in the second service and picked up on my comment that my kid-sister has been having similar issues. He graciously invited me in for a consultation and discovered thru X-Rays that I have arthritis in my neck that is causing the pain. My older sister has had similar effects so it appears that we have all inherited the same genes on this. I was hoping that I was the exception and that my pain was muscular and temporary.
I remember seniors in my former church telling me that they had a friend named Arthur who was with them all the time. As I listened to the pain Arthur was causing them I was glad I didn’t know Arthur. Now I do. Jack Brown told me that Arthur has a friend named Burr. One of the arthritic affects Dr. Songer showed me on the X-Ray was a bone spur. I now know Burr too. I’ll be 55-yrs-old this month and I was hoping arthritis was 20-yrs-down-the-road. Welcome to middle age.
I really have much to be grateful for in this. The pain is limited to my neck, is treatable, and can very likely be managed thru physical therapy which I will start this week. Even if surgery is needed someday it is a correctable problem. With therapy, adapting my study habits, and repositioning my computer screen, I should be able to feel better.
A couple of verses of Scripture have been helpful for me. Psalm 119:71 says “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Pain has a way of focusing the mind. For Christians pain causes us to look to God and ask what He may be teaching us. Verse 67 of the same psalm says “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” Pain causes us to think about the things that are truly important and causes us to listen more carefully to what God may be saying to us. Lord, what do you want me to learn? Are there things I should do differently? Are my priorities your priorities? How can I increase an obedient walk with you?
Another verse was mentioned to me this morning at the Men’s Bible Study that says “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Though I know this is not always true, in my mind arthritis was an old person’s condition. I want to consider myself as young and not have to think about the aging process. I don’t want to face the fact that my time is limited on this earth, but a little arthritis in the neck is proof-positive that I am wasting away. A few questions come to mind. Am I being renewed day by day into greater likeness to the Lord? This body is wearing out and will die someday. But the spiritual life of our walk with the Lord can get better and better. Is that my daily portion because I choose the spiritual disciplines that will help me grow? Am I satisfied with what I have done with my life so far? What things have I done that I should keep doing? What things have I left undone that the Lord would want me to do as the finish line of my life draws closer and closer? These are questions that pain has caused me to ask? They are good questions aren’t they? How about you?
Your friend, learning from pain, Pastor Brian (:-}).