Friday, May 3, 2013

Coping (Whatever That Means)

      If this knee doesn't kill me it will be a true shocker.
      Seriously, SO much pain. I've been lucky the past few days in that I've been able to move around pretty well and act normal, but it all sweeps in at once sometimes. That's when I am grateful for Henry (my trusty heating pad) and ibuprofen.
      Something people often ask me is how I cope with JRA. I have very little idea how to answer this question. How do I cope with JRA? How do I live sick in a healthy world? Well, I just do. I mean that with full honesty and sincerity. There is no sarcasm in this. I just do it because I have to. God didn't tell me any special secret for dealing with all of this. I just am.
      Arthritis is unavoidable in my life. It's there. And because it's there, I do talk about it. It is a big part of my life. Sometimes I like to joke about it and sometimes I cry about it. I just deal with the blows as they come in the same way that anyone else would. I'm nothing special in coping with this. I don't do anything new and innovative. I'm not harboring some brilliant secret in the crevices of my mind. I'm just a typical girl dealing with a disease that I hate a little more every day.
       However, I would like to share with you today three Bible verses/passages that I often read and think about in regard to my arthritis. I think reading the Bible could be considered a way of coping for me. Frankly, I'm not 100% sure what I think of as coping and what I think of as living. I'm still working on making that distinction.

       "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14
       This is one of my favorite verses. You know, we rheumatoid arthritis patients often find ourselves in situations where we literally cannot move. Of course, I know that I'm guilty of trying too hard and overdoing it. My knees will be killing me and I'll still be trying to keep up with everyone on the stairs. I don't tend to have the mindset that allows me to think that being "still" is okay. But in those situations when I really just can't function, it's alright to be still, because God is still fighting for me. When I am weak, He is strong. Obviously this verse isn't commending laziness, but when I have to take a break from my ongoing battle against arthritis, God is right there, waiting and willing to step in for me.

       "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22
       Honestly, I added this one for humor. I laughed the first time I read it. When someone has arthritis, they have too much fluid in their joints. So drying up the bones would actually be very nice and pain-relieving. Maybe if I had more of a crushed spirit then my joints would not feel the need to constantly ache. Totally kidding. Again, all humor.

       "How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
            How long will you hide your face from me?
        How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
            and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
            How long will my enemy triumph over me?

        Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
            Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
        and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
            and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

        But I trust in your unfailing love;
            my heart rejoices in your salvation.
        I will sing the Lord's praise,
            for he has been good to me." Psalm 13

        This is by far my favorite Bible passage of all time. It's an entire chapter, but it's lovely. Psalms is my favorite book of the Bible by a landslide. Besides the beautiful and poetic nature of psalms, they are so brutally honest. Psalms are just you and God. The main focus of any given psalm is not the people writing it. It is not their story and doesn't make you think, "Gee, I wish I was that guy, he was really cool." God is the only focus of the whole thing, and it is very direct. There is not much inference making to be done. The psalmist is always very clear. With the exception of Jesus, people we read about in the Bible aren't perfect. Psalms let you see these imperfections. They show us that they struggled too, and they prayed too, and they felt hopeless too.
        That being said, I would challenge you to find anything more beautiful than Psalm 13. Psalm 13 is how I cope some days. I don't really know what coping means, because how can one ever accept and adjust to something so tragic? I don't think I should have to cope. But I know I do it sometimes, because I am human. I need something to cling to. That "something" happens to be Psalm 13. And when clinging to something like Psalm 13, I'm clinging straight to God.


1 comment:

  1. Great post, Rachel! For what it's worth, I think you're doing an excellent job at "coping" (whatever that means) and you're a very strong young woman.

    I also love Psalms. It always speaks to me no matter what's going on in my life at the time! :)


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