“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16
My rheumatoid arthritis reared it’s ugly head again this week. It’s always in my awareness to some degree – stiff joints or a lack of coordination, perhaps. But I had what I call a full-fledged “flare up” for a couple of days. And I have admit, I’m sure I brought it on myself by doing too much. In my defense, the situation (of the clogged toilet variety) left me no choice, at least until Roto Rooter arrived. So, I did some plunging, which wrecked my wrists.
I expected some backlash, so when the pain hit that night I was not surprised. I was up most of the night, rotating from ice packs to the heating pad, and shifting my arm position every couple of minutes. It was, in a word, miserable.
At about 2:00 am I lay listening to my husband sleeping next to me, and memories of last year came rushing back. All those nights I’d spent this same way vividly replayed, and I could actually feel my emotions start to stir up the way they used to. Just then, a small voice in my head geve me a big idea: “Take a deep breath.” So I did. A full, from-my-belly type breath – and it felt good.
The pain level didn’t go down. It was just as bright and hot as it had been during those earlier nights. The difference was how I reacted to that pain. Before, each twinge made me fearful and angry. I complained and wondered if relief would ever come. The dark and quiet only made things seem worse. Simply put, my emotions ruled, and result was tighter muscles and catasrophic thinking.
This time, I chose to follow common-sense and prayer instead. I reminded myself of the times I’d already dealt with painful bouts – they’d come and gone, and I’d survived pretty much intact. And though I prayed that God might take away the pain, I also asked Him to help me behave better this time while I felt bad.
The next morning was a revelation. I had weathered a tough night without making it worse by a bad attitude. I was tired, but peaceful. Still hurting, but calm. I certainly would have preferred that God answer the prayer for healing, but He chose to give me peace instead. And actually, in some ways I think that was the better blessing to get – it will help me breath deeper and pray more quickly next time.