A Lament from Elizabeth Rice Handford

I remember my zoology professor at Wheaton, Dr. Russell Mixter, teaching us about God’s marvelous design of the human hand with its “opposing thumb.” Ever since I broke my right thumb in two places in a fall last month, oh, my dear, I have learned how important my right “opposing” thumb is.

For example, with my broken right thumb, and my being right-handed, there are all kinds of things I can’t do right now. I can’t button a button. Tie a knot. Sign a check. Open a jar. Pick up my puppy Schatzi. Zip a zipper. Comb my hair. Put on my socks. Sweep the floor. Shake hands. Carry a brief case and my cane. Drive a car. Type on a keyboard. (The splint keeps hitting odd keyes, and my left hand cramps, forced to do so many things it’s unaccustomed to doing.)

This problem shouldn’t last. Eventually my thumb will heal, God willing. So what have I learned? Two in particular; important lessons I hope I’ll never forget.
I hadn’t realized how difficult it is for people with permanent disabilities to cope with life day after day. I’ve not had the compassion I should have for people who exist in an environment of frustration and pain every day, all day, without any hope of its getting better. With God’s grace, I hope to remember how hard it can be for some people to cope with life-long handicaps. I want to remember what God said:

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1

Another lesson my poor thumb has taught me? Just as my body needs every muscle, every organ, every nerve, in order to function well, so every child of God fills a unique function in the Body of Christ. We were individually created by God to fulfill a role for Him that no one else can fill. No matter how insignificant we may feel or how insignificant others may think we are, we all have a distinct and important purpose in life, a purpose God treasires in us.

First Corinthians12:13-21 puts it this way:

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free . . . .For in fact the Body [of Christ] is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

Dear friend, if you feel you have no self-worth, or if you fear no one else values you, learn from my unimportant, terribly important broken thumb this bedrock truth. Because you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you have a unique task in life no one else can fulfill. You are important and valued by God. So rest in that beautiful truth, confident that you can do today exactly what He created you to do for Him.