Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
January 21, 1999
Last Updated :
July 6, 2012
Bodily Afflictions, Remain Positive And Joyful In The Midst Of Temptation Adversity And Affliction, Count Your Blessings, My Infant Accident, My Lifelong Afflictions, Cruelty And Mean Jokes, Childhood Accidents: Broken Leg, Empty Punching Bag, Bicycle Accident, Basketball Accident, Close To Drowning In The Ohio River, God's Mercy On Me, We Are All Preordained By God's Design, Moses Hesitates To Be God's Prophet In Egypt, Our Common Afflictions And Temptations, Weak For His Glory, Beware Of The Dangers Of Pride, We Are Nothing Without God's Anointing, Holy Spirit Is Our Treasure In Earthen Vessels
A number of years ago a young Christian friend wrote to me regarding certain questions he had concerning his physical ailments, and the possibilities of having them rectified by means of modern science and medicine. It seems that this dear brother was born prematurely. As a result of this, he suffers from certain physical limitations. This includes one eye which is totally blind, and the other having very poor vision; thus resulting in his need to use strong corrective lenses.
One thing which amazes me is that over the years I have come to realize that there are many Christians in the world -- I include myself in this group -- who are rather pitiful when it comes to the flesh. We suffer from a rather wide range of physical problems. This includes chronic migraine headaches, problems with our backs, partial or full loss of sight or hearing, digestive problems, polio, issues with our hearts, leukemia and other forms of cancer, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, neurological disorders, missing some or all of our limbs, and much more. Some of us are simply a wreck in the flesh.
Despite these physical challenges that we each face, unlike many worldly people who are quick to curse God, or at least to question His existence, Wisdom and Power when they become afflicted with such personal health problems, we Christians continue to love Jesus, praise His Name and endeavor to obey His Word. Many unspiritual people of the world simply cannot understand this positive attitude and behavior on our part. To some of these people, our outlook borders on lunacy. We have every reason to be pessimists, and to complain and be disheartened, and yet by God's Grace we strive to do just the opposite.
If I were a child of the world, maybe I would remind them of the ancient proverb which says "I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet". While this ancient adage has been attributed to many different sources, it seems that the oldest source appears to be Arabic in origin. As you no doubt realize, the lesson from this saying is that there is always someone who finds themself in a worse situation than we are. As such, we should be thankful and count our blessings. From a Scriptural perspective, I am reminded of the following words that were written by the Apostle Paul in his second Epistle to the Corinthians:
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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 12:7-10, KJV
I am also reminded of the following verses which are found in the first chapter of the Epistle of James, where similar to the Apostle Paul, James also admonishes us to be joyful when we find ourselves in the midst of temptation, adversity and affliction, and to accept the challenge of our faith:
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
James 1:2-3, KJV
While my personal health situation is not nearly as bad as some other dear Christian friends with whom I have had the pleasure of making an acquaintance, over the years I too have had my share of battles in the flesh, and I continue to experience some of them to this very day. Hoping not to bore you, allow me to share some of my experiences with you. If anything, perhaps my account will help you to understand how hard Satan has tried to slow me down and hinder me over the years, and prevent me from serving the Lord.
My very first battle occurred when I was just over one month old. At that particular time I suffered a mysterious accident -- I describe it as "mysterious" because to this day, I still do not know what caused it -- which resulted in an extended stay at the local hospital for my first six months of life. As a result of the accident, I developed water on the brain, which made it necessary for the doctors to cut open and lift up my skull in two places, in order to remove the fluid, and thus reduce the dangerous pressure which was beginning to build up inside of my head.
As a result of that long ago operation, to this day, I still have two noticeable indentations; one on each side of my head. In fact, I possess an old black and white photograph which was taken during that time, of a very wide-eyed little boy with his head completely wrapped in bandages, being held up by a nurse. You can view the photo in the albums section of my Facebook page at the following URL:
Since that time so many years ago -- I'll be a sexagenarian next year -- I have developed a variety of other physical ailments and bodily deficiencies as well. While none of them are really life-threatening, they do hinder me in different ways.
At the age of six, as a result of suffering from astigmatism -- a condition where the cornea is not spherically curved as it should be, thus resulting in image distortion -- and also being nearsighted, I began wearing corrective lenses, and I have been forced to wear them daily ever since. Well, to be honest, I have been rebellious in more recent years, but not without reason. In my forties I began using bifocals because my long range vision and my short range vision began going their separate ways. In other words, I could no longer wear glasses that had just the one lens. For those of you who may not be familiar with them, bifocals are glasses which have different magnifications on the top and bottom portions of the lens; one for long range vision, and the other for short range vision.
However, a number of years ago -- I can't remember how long ago it was now -- my eyes apparently flip-flopped so that my long range vision and my short range vision reversed, and the bifocals became quite useless. I could no longer use them to do work on my computer, or to read anything either, because everything was blurry, regardless of which lens I choose to look through, top or bottom. So, for quite some time now, I have not even worn them. Instead, I have the font in my text editor set to twenty-four point so that I can accomplish my work for the Lord. I am also forced to magnify the text on web browser pages when I surf the web. Naturally, my eyes are strained all the time.
From the time that I was a teenager -- it may have started a lot earlier -- I have also suffered from kyphosis. This is an abnormal outward curvature of the spine -- or hunchback -- which frequently results in a lot of pain in my back, pelvis and legs. It also prevents me from standing on my feet for long periods of time. Ten minutes is about my limit. Sadly, my daughter seems to have inherited this affliction from me, just as I must have inherited it from my mother, who wore a back brace, according to my father.
For decades now, I have also experienced digestive problems, so that I can only sleep on my left side, lest I develop a serious case of heartburn. I can only sleep on my right side when my stomach is empty. While I have never discussed this problem with a doctor, my personal diagnosis is that there may be something wrong with my lower esophageal sphincter -- a small one-way valve that is located between the esophagus and the stomach -- which is resulting in GE Reflux; that is, gastroesophageal reflux. In short, my stomach content seems to be backing up into my esophagus when it isn't supposed to be doing that; possibly due to a loose or weak valve.
From the time that I was a teenager I have also suffered from chronic migraine headaches. I suspect that some of these may be aggravated by -- and perhaps even brought on by -- my back problems. Sometimes my migraines can endure for several days at a time. In severe cases -- thankfully, they seem to have been mitigated in recent years -- I am so incapacitated that all I can do is lay in bed until the migraine passes, however long it takes.
For many years now I have refused to take medicine; not even regular pain relievers such as Aspirin and Tylenol; because I simply do not like to knowingly put foreign chemicals in my body, which do who-knows-what. As it is, most of us consume alarming amounts of chemical contaminants in our daily food intake, and perhaps in our water as well. It may surprise some of you to know that I don't even have a regular doctor. Other than periodic visits to the dentist's office every few years or so, I haven't seen a regular doctor since the early 1990's. While I have my share of bodily afflictions, none of them have ever been serious enough to require assistance from a doctor, and I'm very thankful for that. Hopefully, the Lord will continue to be merciful to me as I enter my sixties, and I will be able to continue to avoid the doctor's office as much as possible.
Approximately twenty years ago I also developed ulnar nerve entrapment -- it is either Guyon's canal syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome, I am really not certain -- in my left arm and hand. This is a neural problem similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is characterized by certain fingers tingling and becoming numb. There have been rare occasions when my entire hand will become numb; sometimes to the point where I cannot use it to grasp anything. Neither can I sleep with my hands on my chest, being as they will also go numb if I do so.
As a result of the aforementioned afflictions, I also suffer from sleep deprivation, and I am usually only able to sleep for two to four hours at a time. On rare occasions I am able to sleep longer if I am extremely tired. However, even then, seven or eight hours of straight sleep is rare. Quite often I will wake up with an upset stomach, a sore back, a headache, or with numb hands, and sometimes with a combination of any of the four. Thankfully, being as I am no longer employed at a 9 to 5 job, I have the liberty to sleep whenever I feel the need to do so. There are also the longtime bladder problems which likewise contribute to my lack of sleep.
In addition to the aforementioned health issues, for a number of years now, I have also suffered from frequent and painful muscle cramps in either of my feet. I am not sure what causes them -- I suspect that my feet get cold, or that I stretch my legs in the wrong way -- but quite often these cramps are so painful that I have to cry out to the Lord to stop them, as I massage my feet in an attempt to reduce the level of pain. It is just that unbearable.
My dental health is also quite poor, and I have slowly been losing my teeth since the age of twenty-one. At this current time, approximately half of my teeth are already missing, and of those that remain, quite a few of them are in serious need of fillings or extraction. However, being as I am quite poor, and do not possess any health insurance at this current time, much-needed dental care has been on hold for a while now. Of course, this also contributes to my frequent headaches.
If you add to the aforementioned health issues the fact that I am quite thin -- some people would undoubtedly say that I am dreadfully underweight, which is true -- you will quickly come to realize that I'm not exactly one of humanity's finer specimens. When I was a young boy -- and even a teenager for that matter -- my own brother, as well as acquaintances at school, would make fun of me because I was so thin. I would often hear the standard jokes such as "Turn sideways and you will disappear"; or "Hold on to a rock, or you will blow away on a windy day." Young kids can be so cruel to each other. It should come as no surprise to you then that I withdrew into a shell, and lived within my own world of reading books, taking lone trips into the woods, and doing other things that lonely and introverted kids like to do.
Aside from all of the above, as a young boy, I experienced the usual scratches and bumps that children my age face. When I was around six years old -- give or take a few years -- I broke my leg when I fell down a flight of stairs in our home. At that time, doctors still made house calls; and I can still remember -- although rather vaguely -- how the doctor had to reset my leg and put it into a cast on the kitchen table as my mother looked on. My left leg grew a little shorter as a result of the accident, and I suspect that eventually, it may have contributed to some degree to my back problems as well.
Due to a number of accidents -- which were sometimes a result of my own foolishness and disobedience -- by the time that I reached my teenage years, I had already had about eighty-two stitches placed in different areas of my head and face. This resulted mainly from three incidents.
On one particular occasion, when I was less than ten years old, my parents bought us a punching bag with a metal stand and base. As I recall, my brother said or did something to anger me, and so I hit the bag. However, the problem is that at that particular time, the punching bag was deflated. As a result, it flipped upside-down, and the metal base smacked me right in the forehead, leaving a bloody gash. So, off to the hospital we went for stitches. Kids, don't try this at home.
A number of years later, after our family had moved into my grandparents' house that was situated high above the railroad tracks in the Ohio River Valley, I suffered a serious bicycle accident. I believe that I was already a young teenager when this particular accident occurred. As I recall, it was during the Summer. My dad was at work, and my mother had apparently gone out to do something. While I had been instructed to stay at home, one of my few friends stopped by and invited me to go bicycle riding with him. Boys will be boys, and so I took off with my friend.
My friend took me to a long, steep, winding, asphalt-covered road that was located near our old elementary school. I was not familiar with the road, and it was full of potholes. Even though I had never biked on the road before, I went ahead and began to follow my friend. It proved to be a serious mistake. Due to the slope of the road, and my extremely light weight, I was not able to apply enough pressure to the break pedal, and within minutes I lost control of the bike as it sped down the hill. My friend was unaware of my trouble, as he was far ahead of me.
Everything happened so quickly. Apparently, I must have hit a pothole and fell off of the bicycle. However, my shirt became caught in the wheel, or perhaps in the gears and chain. As a result, as the bike sped down the pothole-filled hill, I was being dragged along with it, my head repeatedly banging into the asphalt pavement. I assume that the bicycle and I finally came to a stop. Even though there was no traffic on the road, a solitary car came by, and a kindhearted, total stranger put me in the back seat and took me to the hospital. Due to my grave condition, I really don't remember much, other than the fact that I was groaning a lot, that he wrapped my head in my shirt, and that there was a lot of blood all over his car.
As a result of the bicycle accident, my head and back were injured quite a bit. I have no recollection of what happened in the hospital. Perhaps I passed out, or maybe they put me under. At any rate, I received forty new stitches in my head, to add to those I had already received years earlier when I had my accident as an infant. I do recall that following the bicycle accident, neither of my parents ever scolded me, even though I really deserved it. Perhaps they realized that the experience had taught me an important lesson about obedience. I really don't know.
The third accident which resulted in my receiving stitches on my face occurred during my high school days. As I mention in other articles, I have never really liked playing sports; and this included high school sports such as football, basketball and baseball. I never got near football; I always struck out at baseball; and I never learned how to dribble a basketball. In fact, I was afraid of sports, because I simply didn't want to get hurt. Phys. Ed. -- or what we called gym class -- just was not my thing. I could do a few of the calisthenics, but I was so weak and feeble that I couldn't even do chin-ups fully or properly. I wasn't much better at doing push-ups either.
While I purposely avoided participating in gym class as much as I possibly could, preferring instead to study my books, one of my high school gym teachers had other ideas. One day he forced me to engage in a game of basketball, which I did not -- and still do not -- know how to play. I really don't know what he was thinking. Perhaps he thought that he was doing me a favor. What a mistake that turned out to be! For some odd reason, one of the players decided to pass me the ball. Within seconds, I had guys all over me. The weight of their bodies was such, that my upper front teeth cut right through my chin, just below my lower lip, and left a gash clear into the inside of my mouth.
Once again I was a bloody mess. The school called up my dad who was at work, who then came and took me to the hospital. That resulted in seven stitches in my chin, as I recall. As you can imagine, that high school sports accident seriously traumatized me. From that point on, I refused to participate in gym class. I did not care if the gym teacher flunked me for the year. I was not going to play any more sports, and I didn't. While he could have flunked me, the teacher showed me a little mercy and gave me a "C" instead; but even that brought down my grade point average for the year.
So between having my head cut open as an infant and receiving many stitches at that time, having my forehead stitched up as a result of the punching bag incident, receiving an additional forty stitches in my head as a result of the bicycle accident, and having my chin stitched up due to the basketball game in which I should have never been forced to participate, I think that my poor head and face have been banged up enough.
One thing I do know is that God has been merciful to me, and that for His reasons, He has chosen to spare my life since I was a baby. One other incident worth mentioning here -- which even my parents never knew about -- is that on one occasion, when I was a teenager, I almost drowned in the Ohio River.
Being natives of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, for quite a number of years, our family lived downstream from where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River join together to form the Ohio River. The current in the Ohio River is rather swift. I imagine that this is particularly so when the winter snow begins to melt, the cold Spring rains arrive, and the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers begin to swell. At its deepest points, the Ohio River has a depth of from seventeen to twenty feet. Thus, it is considered a shallow river. It is also a tributary of the Mississippi River.
When we were young boys, my dad used to take us down to the Ohio River on weekends to catch carp, catfish, blue gills, sunfish and perch. From my boyhood home that was located on the slope of one of the hills that overlooked the Ohio River Valley, we could see the train yard and the Ohio River below. In fact, whenever the train cars were locked together, it would create a very loud noise which would echo throughout the valley. We used to sit on a wooden bench on our street which overlooked the valley, and watch the activity in the train yard below. The balcony on our two-story wooden house also faced the valley, so we could see things from there as well.
As we grew older and became teenagers, we were allowed to go fishing on our own. On one particular occasion, a few of the guys were swimming by a wooden dock that was located near one of our favorite fishing places. Even though I didn't know how to swim, they invited me into the water. That meant stripping off our clothes except for our underwear. Against my better judgment, I accepted their invitation and joined them in the water. However, I clung to the ladder that went down from the dock into the water.
I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I decided to see how far down the ladder extended into the water. Somehow I let go of it. By the time I realized what had actually happened, I had already begun to drift away from the ladder. I was fully submerged at that moment, so struggled to get to the surface. One of the guys saw me trying to reach my hand out of the water in order to signal that I was in trouble. Thankfully, he pulled me up, and I was spared from drowning. I never told my parents about the incident, but neither did I ever venture into the Ohio River again. Fishing from the shore is a lot safer.
So as I mentioned a moment ago, I have no doubt that the Lord has been merciful to me over the years, protected me from my own foolish mistakes, and saved me from some accidents which could have cost me my life on at least three occasions. This is in addition to the various afflictions that I've suffered all my life. It should be evident to you by now that I am a rather fragile and weak vessel of clay. However, at the same time, I am also convinced that I am what the Lord apparently preordained me to be; for as we read in the Book of Psalms:
"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
Psalms 139:13-16, KJV
So you see, despite my physical imperfections, I am what God made me to be; and you are exactly the way that God ordained for you to be as well; because God does not make mistakes in His designs. If you still doubt that this is so, then please consider how the Lord replied to Moses when Moses said that he was not eloquent of speech, and therefore wasn't qualified to be the Lord's Prophet to the children of Israel in Egypt:
"And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."
Exodus 4:10-12, KJV
A number of years later, we also find the Lord stating the following through Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy:
"See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand."
Deuteronomy 32:39, KJV
It becomes evident then from the verses in Psalm 139, Exodus chapter four, and Deuteronomy chapter thirty-two, that the Lord simply does not make mistakes in the manner in which He chooses to design each one of us. As you will learn later on in this article, in His Divine Wisdom and Foresight, God has a plan and a purpose for everything that He does, whether we understand it or not. Having said that, please do not think that I share the previous points regarding my personal health as a means to elicit pity from my readers, as that is most certainly not my intention. I share them for two reasons. The first reason is to help my readers to realize that I share in your physical sufferings and afflictions. I am reminded of the following verses that are found in the New Testament:
"Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
1 Peter 5:9, KJV
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV
So you see, none of us are alone in our various trials of faith and bodily afflictions. My second reason for sharing a history of my personal health with you, is to show you that God is able to use anyone. Furthermore, as I explain in such articles as "The Only Credentials You Need!", quite often it is the people who are most likely not to succeed in the eyes of the world. God seems to delight in using the most foolish, weak and pitiful of His creations that He can find, in order that He might receive all of the glory, and not man. Allow me to share with you some of my favorite verses that are found in the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians:
"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
1 Corinthians 1:25-29, KJV
I believe that God never gives us more than we are able to bear. As Paul wrote in the verses I shared earlier from his Epistle to the Church at Corinth, the Lord gives us exactly what we need, when we need it, in order to keep us humble and totally dependent upon Him. He is a jealous God, and He wants all of the praise, and all of the glory. As Paul says above, perhaps if we did not have these different bodily afflictions, we would be so lifted up in our pride, that the Lord would not even be able to use us for anything. In our pride and vanity, we would attempt to take the credit to ourselves every time something good happens as a result of something we did or said. Even with our afflictions, we are still tempted to do this very thing, and sometimes we do.
As I point out in such articles as "So You Really Think You Are So Humble?", as well as in "Love, Mercy Forgiveness and Chastisement", our pride is one of our biggest enemies. We must keep on guard against it at every moment; because the more fruitful our ministry is, the more Satan will try to use our pride against us, so that we will become ineffective for the Lord. If that were to happen, the Lord would be forced to remove the anointing of His Holy Spirit from us. If you think that this is not possible, then please consider the following verse where King David speaks of this very thing:
"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me."
Psalms 51:11, KJV
If King David was so worried about such a thing happening to him because of his sins, should not we be concerned as well? So again, we must not forget our sinful nature. We must not forget what manner of men and women we are. We must realize that the only thing that enables us to accomplish anything for the Lord, is the treasure which we have in our earthen vessels; that is, in our bodies. As I explain in the article entitled "A Treasure in Earthen Vessels: God's Promise of the Spirit", that treasure is of course the Divine Anointing of God's Holy Spirit. Even Jesus humbly acknowledged "I can of mine own self do nothing." Please consider the profound truth that is revealed in the following verses:
"For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."
James 1:23-24, KJV
"I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
John 5:30, KJV
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
2 Corinthians 4:7, KJV
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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