Thankful for Struggles

Have you ever just thought about your comfortable breathing and how incredible it is that your next breath simply comes, effortlessly, without any intentional focus on breathing?

Anyone who has struggled with asthma or a lung disease has known the struggle for air. Even a short bout with inflamed sinuses and congestion will make you thankful for normal breathing. But why is it we have to be reminded (usually by some sort of struggle) to feel gratitude for easy, unrestricted breaths we take every moment of every day?

We take every part of our body for granted as long as it is healthy and functioning. I never really appreciated a healthy shoulder until I had frozen shoulder. Now I compare all pain to the pain of frozen shoulder, and if frozen shoulder is a 10, all my other aches and pains get no higher than a 2. No matter what hurts, I'm always thankful it's not frozen shoulder pain.

I took my eyes pretty much for granted until I found out I had developed astigmatism and needed prescription lenses for more than reading. I already valued my sight, but I have been more thankful for healthy eyes after experiencing compromised vision and eye strain.

When I was much younger, I so took my feet for granted. I thought only about fashion and not the health of my feet when choosing shoes. I wore high, high heels and platforms. I sacrificed comfort for looking cute and stylish. Only after developing damaged nerves (Morton's Neuroma) in both feet and undergoing surgery, followed by a long recovery, did I begin to fully appreciate my feet and start making better choices for their longevity.

I know so many people who suffer with chronic pain. I have always been a compassionate person who feels deeply for the suffering of others. But having frozen shoulder twice and enduring chronic pain night and day for a year (both times) increased my ability to relate.

I've had two other physical conditions that involved intense chronic pain and extended recovery. They were both equal to the level 10 pain of frozen shoulder, but neither of those took a year to recover from. I learned from each struggle. And I became more grateful for all the good days. I still reflect on each experience and remember the emotional despair I battled along with the physical pain. I couldn't know what that feels like any other way. And my gratitude for feeling good would be a little more shallow without the contrast.

It used to be that I didn't give a second thought to my functioning body. But as I get older, I find myself thinking about and being thankful for every day that I feel good and can move, see, hear, taste, smell, think, and breathe normally. Our bodies are miraculous! Even when they are not functioning at 100%, they are amazing.

This makes me think of a book I read and absolutely loved a while back. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Philip Yancey and Paul Brand. You might want to check it out... Especially if you don't believe in a Creator!

I'm thankful for the good health I have enjoyed. I'm thankful for my functioning body. But I'm also thankful for the times I have struggled with pain and suffering. My struggles have given me an increased awareness of how chronic pain attacks a person not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I don't like pain and I am not asking for more. But I wouldn't trade what I've gained from my own personal struggles, including those occasions when my body was failing me.


Anonymous said…
I love the Fearfully and Wonderfully book.
Thanks for sharing. I am grateful for the air we breathe from our Lord!