>Minor Misery, Major Joy


 A Lovely Cast. Art by Tanya Yorks. Spring, 2008.

True Confessions

If we meet on the street and you ask say, “How are you?” I’m likely to say, “Just fine, thanks. How are you?” And I’ll smile as I listen as you answer. 

And odds are good that I’m lying. Sort of.

For seven months I’ve had a strange form of hives. They’re caused by pressure against my skin, so they pop up when I remove my shoes. Or comb my hair. Or sit on a hard surface. After 20 minutes of burning, the pain disappears, but the welt on my skin remains for an hour or so. You can see an example here.

They’re ephemeral and persistent all at once. And they bring a bit of misery. Benign, itchy, misery.

As I march through midlife, the arthritis that developed in my 30s has progressed. I’ve had surgery on both thumbs to remove bones rusted beyond use. Blouses that button are an indulgence reserved for “good days.” Over the past few years, the base of my spine has been collecting corrosion between its vertebra, too.

The “good days” don’t visit me as often as they once did.

I was reared in a family that didn’t favor whining and wallowing. Years of training contribute to my response of “fine” when you ask how I am. And I remind myself that the conditions I live with don’t threaten my longevity. I have a friend who’s just learned that her cancer has returned.  Another friend stages garage sales and sells t-shirts to help fund cancer treatment for her five-year-old granddaughter. Stacked beside serious illnesses like those, who am I to gripe about the gnawing in my back, or fingers that stiffen and refuse to slip buttons through holes?

So in terms of my physical state, I’m bending the truth–or snapping it in two–if I tell you I’m fine.

But there’s more to the story.

Two thousand years ago, God came to earth as a Man. He walked among us, taught us about love, then showed us love as He marched up a hill, was nailed to a cross, and died. Because He paid that price, sacrificing Himself for my sins, my future glows.

One day, in 35 years or the day after tomorrow, He’ll call me home to take my place in His kingdom. There’s no cancer in heaven, no hives, no arthritis. Instead, I will spend eternity worshiping Him in a place of perfection.

When I consider heaven I realize that my entire life on earth is ephemeral, like these pesky hives. It will pass away, and something better awaits me.

The hope of eternity fills me with great joy. So while my body hurts, it is well with my soul.

And because of that promise, when I tell you I’m fine, it’s God’s truth. 

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4 (NASB)