My friend Rose has been going through a difficult time. Her knees and toes are swollen and inflamed, and sharp pains in her legs keep her awake at night. She has had these problems off and on since she was a teenager, but it was only recently that a series of tests at a rheumatology clinic revealed that she suffers from a particularly debilitating type of inflammatory arthritis. Rose is normally an energetic person, living a busy and full life. Naturally she wondered why she was afflicted with this incurable disease, so she did some research.
When we met up over coffee, I was rather mystified by her initial exclamation. “It’s all due to my curly toes.” Then she told me what her research had yielded. Her condition was primarily genetic. Like the unusually curly toes that ran in her family, Rose had inherited a susceptibility to this disease. Something environmental—probably an infection—had triggered her first episode.
“Doesn’t that make you feel down?” I asked.
“I’ll live with it,” she replied. “Just because my toes are curly doesn’t mean I have to curl up in a corner. I may have a predisposition to this disease, but I don’t have to let it ruin my life. God has been good to me!”
X-rays had revealed that despite the many years she had been battling arthritis, she had minimal damage in her joints, which surprised the doctors. No doubt her active lifestyle, determination to stay mobile, and positive outlook had all contributed to her being in relatively good shape.
After Rose had hobbled off with a mix of grins and grimaces, I thought about this long and hard. It’s true we can’t choose our genetic makeup, and not all of the physical traits we inherit are positive, but we can choose what we do with what we are given. The Bible describes our body as the temple for our spirits, and admonishes us to take care of it.1 My temple may be imperfect; like Rose, I have flaws that I have inherited and other conditions I have acquired. However, none of that changes my duty to “take care of my temple” by keeping up good living habits. By giving God my cooperation, He can help me make the best of things.
Enough sitting at this keyboard! The sunshine is beckoning me outside.