I would not consider my husband a cautious man. He worked construction for 30 years and although there were numerous warnings and horror stories of other construction workers who had lost fingers on the job, hubby would not take off his wedding ring. Now it was probably laziness or the naïve belief that bad things happen to OTHER people, but I like to think of it in a more Cinderella-esque kind of way. He loved me SO much, he would rather lose a finger than to have to remove the symbol of our love and commitment (sniffs dramatically and wipes away a tear).
But there is a monster in our lives now and it has gotten the ring off my husband’s hand. The name of the monster is Sarcoidosis. The poison it spits is inflammation, creating swelling and irritation and pain. Because his hands are so swollen, his nurse told him to take off his wedding ring before it cuts off circulation, so for the first time in over 20 years, the wedding ring came off. Big score for the Sarc monster.
Sarcoidosis is worse than the most self-serving person you know, delighting in always taking without regard or care of the desolation it leaves. Cackling as it strips away youth, health and energy. Dancing with glee as it yanks away the ability to breathe with ease or to have a pain-free day. Then there are the things it sneaks and hides behind it’s back, like intimacy in relationships and the ability to put in a hard days work. It feed on self-esteem and joy.
The Sarc monster doesn’t want to be thought of as the bad guy, so it gives constant reminders that it does, indeed, give. How dare we think of it as a taker! What about the skin lesions and painful lumps?! What about feeling flu-ish all of the time?! “No one ever thanks me for that!” he pouts. And what about all those rotten nights of sleep?! Sarcoidosis is incensed! He insists that he is a giver! Why, without him, he would never have gotten to experience a life lived on chemotherapy or steroid-induced diabetes!
Allegory aside, I admit I spend much time adjusting and redefining, so the affects of Sarcoidosis can feel less severe. This includes LOTS of self-talk and reminding myself of what is true. I remind myself to look for things to be thankful for, remember that each day is a gift, as is each breath. I stand on the truth that God does not waste pain and He has a plan and a purpose for this illness in our lives.
Just when my heart needed encouragement the most, I read an excerpt from the book, Things Unseen, by Mark Buchanan and I wanted to share it with you.
“Rumor has it, the devil held a garage sale. On a table he laid out all the tools he had used to harass and intimidate, to entice and accuse, each marked with a price. Lust was priced dear, but not half as much as gossip. Pride had a staggering sum attached to it. But one item was priced higher than them all. It was a plain, dull, shopworn implement, no embellishments, yet it cost more than everything else put together. ‘What is this thing?’ a customer asked the devil, ‘and why is it so pricey?’ ‘Ah,’ said the devil, ‘this–how I cherish this–this is the most effective tool I have. When all other things–lust, envy, greed, sloth–can’t make a dent in someone, when even pride can’t find a crack, this does the trick without fail. I have beaten down more saints with this tool than any other on the table.’ ‘What is it,’ asked the customer. ‘Discouragement,’ replied the devil.
I am making an assumption that even the happiest of people can get discouraged. And then there are the rest of us, who drag discouragement around like a sack of stones, constantly trying to let go, only to find it keeps coming back, usually with two more stones in the bag, heavier and more cumbersome than before.
Discouragement. The Apostle Paul knew all about it. ‘We are hard pressed on every side…perplexed…persecuted…struck down. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus…for we who are alive are always being given over to death.’ (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)
Is there a cure for this? I don’t mean a magic pill that dissolves heartache in a burst of euphoria. The shadow and hollowness of this life is one way that God keeps us restless until we rest in Him.
‘Therefore we do not lose heart. though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18).Ok, Sarc monster, listen up! My heart better be listening too! My God is using for good what you are trying beat me down with. I will chose to be thankful and keep eternal things in perspective. You can have the dumb ring. I am just thankful that I still have the man.