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A Lesson in “Suffering"

Updated: Oct 10

Story by Kristine Barnes

In August 2020 serious arthritis in my left thumb became really irritating. I had a friend with a similar problem who recommended her hand-doctor. I made an appointment with him, and he gave me a cortisone shot which really helped! Both the swelling in joint and the pain level decreased a lot. Super!

By May 2021, the pain had gotten really bad again. I returned to the same doctor, who gave me another injection, but warned that surgery would probably be needed the next time the arthritis flared up. As he was leaving the room after the injection, he commented that the area may be sore by evening, so I should use Ibuprofen. OK.

I remembered that with my original injection, pain was a non-issue. Gary and I had a long errand run planned, so we took off. Within an hour my thumb was aching quite a bit, and soon reached a pain level I’d not experienced often.

I’ve had two ectopic pregnancies, which feel like you have a large sea urchin rolling around inside, jabbing you, then gives you a cold-sweat pain that you don’t believe could be real. I’ve been tossed off a horse, had a gum-slicing procedure, without anesthesia, after my braces were removed, slid down a wooden staircase on my backbone and elbows, rolled a car on a desolate highway in Oregon while pregnant and NOT wearing a seatbelt, had strep throat, had mouthfuls of cankers that kept me from eating, had numerous surgeries, and two rounds of childbirth, but NONE of these things caused such intense, constant, unrelenting, pain!

By this time, we were a long way from home, out in the country, on our way to a Strawberry Farm. There was nothing I could do but hang on. Gary pulled over to look for pain relievers in our auto First Aid kit. He found some old aspirin which I sucked on since we had no drinks with us. Gary had brought ice packs in a cooler for the groceries we expected to buy, so he stopped the car a second time, dug one of those out and wrapped it in a baseball cap for me to ice my left hand. It may have helped some, but I couldn’t tell. My wrist, hand, and thumb were just angry!! There was no position to hold my arm in which the pain lessened. It was BAD! I tried deep-breathing to relax – kept that up for the hour, or more that we were on the road. And Gary was sweet to think my favorite classical music would help, so he switched from his country station to “more soothing music” as he put it. It did not help.

Though there is really no comparison, it made me think of Jesus on the cross. I have always tried to imagine what He must have endured during that whole agonizing event, but who could understand if one has not experienced crucifixion? In my situation, with the pain in my hand so strong, so unrelenting, with no way to stop it, it just went on and on and on.

Now imagine if your entire body felt that way. After Jesus was physically abused in so many ways, then nailed to a cross, there was no position that He could find that would decrease his pain one degree. No relief whatever...for hours and hours and hours. How could Jesus accept such a task for the sole purpose of bringing salvation to a bunch of ungrateful, stubborn people, like us? What sort of love is that?!?

We humans are created in God’s very image, are capable of fiercely loving family and even friends. But how many of us could willingly do what Jesus did for people who hate and reject us? I am always amazed by God’s amazing love.

And grateful for it.

And unworthy of it.

Our trials, whatever they may be, would weigh as a feather on a balance with those of Jesus.

Father God, I will try to be more grateful for every circumstance You allow me to endure, as well as for all the gifts You shower upon me daily. Thank You for sharing the incomprehensible beauty of all your Creation. Thank You for the promise You have given to us, that despite our uncountable failures and sins, You will still provide for us a place of perfect peace and joy, with You, for eternity. Thank You!!

PS: When I got home, I took several Ibuprofen and crashed on the couch. After some time, and some sleep, the pain backed off. Praise the LORD!!

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