Yesterday I went to the orthopedic surgeon concerning pain I have been having in the base of my left thumb. I think it started last fall and I had hoped it would get better but it has only gotten worse, to the point it has begun to affect my ability to do my job. My own research led me to believe I have basal thumb arthritis. My doctor confirmed my suspicions and we discussed the various treatment modalities from simple medications to surgery.
We decided upon a course in the middle, a corticosteroid injection into the affected joint. Now my doctor has injected my joints before. Once a shoulder and twice when I had tennis elbow. (No, I don't play tennis.) I recall all the injections being relatively painful and I tried to steel myself for the pain.
Only the injection didn't hurt.
In fact, the shot itself was fairly painless, as shots go. His nurse sprayed a cold, "numbing" spray on my skin as he injected me and the lidocaine he included with the steroid kept me comfortable for a couple of hours. Then it wore off.
The rest of the night by arm hurt all the way from my fingertips to my elbow. Even today as I type this, my thumb is painful and sore. But I know that soon the pain should go away and I will feel as if I have had a miracle cure.
It is ironic to me that such a small needle and a small amount of medication could produce so much pain (I am not in the "miracle cure" stage yet, so I'll save that for another post.) I was willing to go through this painful procedure because I knew from experience it would eventually bring relief. When my doctor injected my elbow, once the pain of the shot itself was gone, it was blessed relief. He told me it would be that way and now, from experience, I know it to be true.
There are so many times we go through painful situations in our lives, some we can foresee ahead of time and others that catch us by surprise. Sometimes, like this injection, the painful thing is actually intended to make us better. Indeed, God uses all things in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to Hpurpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." Romans 8:28,29.
All things. . .the good and the bad, the pleasures and the pains. All things God uses according to His purpose. And that purpose is one thing, to make us more like His Son.
Now, I don't know about you, but I am a far way away from being like Christ. It will take a lot of "all things" to get me there -- including this steroid shot, and the arthritis that led me to get the shot. All of these, everything, becomes a tool in the hands of the Lord. Is there a difficulty in our lives right now? It is one of those "all things." Is there a pain we are called to bear? It is one of those "all things." Is there a disappointment weighing down our hearts? It is one of those "all things."
When we begin to see our lives in this light, then we can begin to approach both the good and the bad as the Apostle Paul did:
"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12: 9, 10