Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Touch of Numbness

I wake up one morning feeling stiff. Still in bed, I suddenly realize that my right arm feels dead. Literally – dead! I cannot feel a single thing. My arm is as good as a limp, useless, extension of my body. I try pinching it– at first I pinch softly, but when I still feel nothing, I pinch as hard as I can. And still there is no feeling! That’s when I start to panic.

Fear grips me. Of course, I have felt this numbness before, but never has it affected my whole arm and lasted so long! What if this time the numbness is for real? As I desperately continue to pinch and slap my arm, terrible thoughts start to cross my mind.

Oh God, what if the feeling never comes back? Maybe it’s numb because I didn’t move it for several hours while sleeping. But what if the nerve cells are already damaged or too numb to recover? Maybe my whole arm is dead now and it’ll never regain feeling! (It is deadly true that one will start to think of stupid and illogical reasons for their state of trouble when they are in despair.)

Desperately, I start to pray aloud. Oh, how I prayed that my arm would feel the pinching and slapping even if it meant bruises and pain! How I prayed that I would feel the familiar “pins and needles” sensation when the numbness fades off. I soon realize that “touch” is my most important sense. Without the gift of touch, life would be painfully lonesome though there is no physical pain.

I was inspired after reading “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” by Dr. Paul Brand, who spent his life treating leprosy patients in India. He wrote of the gift of pain and touch. Dr. Brand invented a special glove with an automated buzzer that alerted his leprosy patients whenever they overwork and injure themselves. The glove worked perfectly, yet it still could not prevent the patient from self-injury. Whenever it buzzed, the patient would just ignore it, turn it off and continue the injurious activity because he cannot truly feel the pain.

Dr. Brand writes that pain, our “inbuilt warning system”, is a gift from God. No scientist can ever imitate the complicated system called “pain” that God created. All of us dislike pain, but it is important because it keeps us from damaging our bodies.

Many times we hurt ourselves and curse the pain that follows. When I twist my ankle, I feel pain. Thus, the pain warns me to discontinue walking. It reminds me to rest my ankle after taking a few steps. Eventually my ankle will heal because pain compelled me to rest and care for it. See how remarkably effective this warning system is! And yet, how many times do we thank God for His gift of pain?

After what seems like ages, my frantic prayers are answered. Bit by bit, my arm regains feeling, and just as I hoped, the familiar and ticklish “pins and needles” sensation attacks my arm. Oh how I thank God for this feeling I dislike so much! In a state of euphoria, I start to wave and stretch my arm, no longer limp and senseless.

Thank God my Savior in such a terrible situation!

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