Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Finding Hidden Treasures (aka Arthritis in your Armpits!)

“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

A few years ago, while on a camping trip with my daughter, I learned a new game called geocaching. Similar to a scavenger hunt, you use a global positioning system (GPS) to find a hidden “cache” of treasure. The difference between the two games, however, is that with geocaching, you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. All you know is that it will be in a container of some kind, and that it will be located at certain coordinates on the GPS. The treasure itself is a surprise.

I have noticed, in my journey with God, that life can sometimes be like geocaching. We are looking for something – our purpose, a new direction, or perhaps a specific answer to prayer – but we aren’t sure exactly what we will find.

When I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I began searching for answers. Why did I have this disease? How would it impact my life? What ramifications would it have for my family, now and down the road? I knew that with any illness, the answers vary from person to person, and so many of my answers would not be found ahead of time. I would simply have to experience them.

Most of my initial questions were filled with dread. Would I have to give up the things I love, like hiking and kayaking? Would I have to take those medications I had heard about? Would I still be able to work? As I learned to live with RA, I learned the answers. Yes, I could still work, just not at the level I used to. Yes, I would have to take the drugs. But no, I would not have to give up my favorite activities. Not yet, anyway.

As time has gone on, I have begun to ask different questions. Instead of asking, “Why me?” I have begun to ask, “Why not me?” I have traded my dread for hope, and moved the focus away from what’s wrong to what’s right.

Don’t misunderstand me, there is not a lot to like about having any chronic illness. I’m not going to downplay the seriousness of rheumatoid disease and the significant pain it can cause, especially to those who have more severe cases than I do. But I do believe that in every cloud, there is a silver lining, if we choose to look for it.

Just as I found some unusual little prizes when I went geocaching, so I have found some unexpected surprises with RA. For instance, I recently discovered a new trick to differentiating my disease from the stereotypical “old person’s disease” of osteoarthritis (OA). How many people with OA can say they have arthritis in their armpits? Ha! None, you say! And you would be right!

Never in my life did I ever expect rheumatoid disease to manifest itself in my armpits, but voila! Nope, those swollen lymph nodes that showed up on my recent mammogram aren’t breast cancer. They are due to my RA. Now I don’t have anything to worry about with those little lumps. In fact, thinking about them gives me a little laugh!

And what about community? So many people come together when they are in pain, and end up finding collective joy. Whether it is connecting over an illness or a life circumstance, God can give us “hidden treasure” through relationships with other people. I have been blessed beyond measure in this way.

Of course, the greatest treasure we could ever find is a relationship with our heavenly Father. He shows us how to find it. The GPS navigation is clear. Jesus is the way.

Jesus himself said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” (Matthew 13:44) All of God’s goodness is a treasure, wrapped up and waiting for us to find. It is hidden, tucked away in a secret place.

We can look at the big field of our circumstances, and miss it altogether. Or we can search with all of our hearts, digging deep into the rich soil of God’s Word and leveraging the power of the Holy Spirit, to find what our hearts truly long for: peace, joy, love. God’s hidden treasure. Seek and you will find it … in Him.

Can you hear God calling you by name, calling you to seek out the hidden treasures He has for you? Can you find His goodness – peace, love and joy – in whatever circumstances you find yourself? Don’t miss out on God’s loving kindness. Open your eyes to His goodness and mercy, and find the treasure He has for you today.

Finding Hidden Treasures (aka Arthritis in your Armpits!) originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.


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18 comments:

  1. Linda - I like your positive attitude in-spite of a situation that is not fun. I too always like to look for the silver lining. I am your neighbor at #TestimonyTuesday Today

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. I appreciate the encouragement! May God bless you richly today.

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  2. Hi Linda! The hope you share here is so powerful. The simple mind shift from "Why me?" to "Why not me?" alone completely changes our attitudes! Then bring in the hope of searching for God's hidden treasures, and we find the power to hold onto our joy and to live full lives in spite of chronic illness! You always bless me so immensely with your words and heart. Thank you for this encouragement! And it's not too late to add this beautiful message of hope to Moments of Hope this week!
    Hugs,
    Lori

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    1. You are so sweet, Lori. You bless me with your sweet words of encouragement. I am glad that my words offer hope to those who struggle. It's not always just about chronic illness, either. Last week, my biggest struggle was being the mother of a tween daughter! :-) Have a blessed day and I will see you on Moments of Hope!

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  3. I love how you use geocaching as a way of describing our Christian walk: 'I have noticed, in my journey with God, that life can sometimes be like geocaching. We are looking for something – our purpose, a new direction, or perhaps a specific answer to prayer – but we aren’t sure exactly what we will find.' Yes, yes yes!

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and your heart and for reminding us to ask the 'why not me' and search for those silver linings! May God bless you in your writing and may you feel fresh His love for you in each moment, even the very painful moment from RA.

    Blessing,

    Ruth :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Ruth! I am not in a lot of pain from RA these days, but try and bring hope to those who are. There is always something to be grateful for, and for me today, it is readers like you! Thank you for your sweet words. Hope to see you again here sometime.

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  4. "Why not me?" Takes a lot of trust to say those words. Your neighbor today at Holley's (#43)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Susan! I find it interesting that God uses circumstances in all of our lives that are as different and unique as we are, in order to get our attention. We all have something. :-) Loved your post on summertime. Great ideas! Have a blessed day.

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  5. Oh Linda,, thank goodness those were not as serve as originally thoguht. Truly a blessing

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    1. Yes, indeed, Rick! Blessings to you...

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  6. I love treasure hunting never knowing quite what we will find. I also know how searching for ones purpose feels as I have been there before. I have heard the many stories and testimonies how he will slow you down so you can see what he wants for you. Loved reading your post
    thanks for sharing come see what I shared at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes, Angie, treasure hunting is always an adventure ... kind of like life. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Linda, this encouraged me so much: "Can you find His goodness – peace, love and joy – in whatever circumstances you find yourself? Don’t miss out on God’s loving kindness. Open your eyes to His goodness and mercy, and find the treasure He has for you today." I've found myself in some challenging circumstances lately, and these words are so encouraging!

    I went geocaching with my daughter last fall! So sorry about your arthritis. I know what that is like first hand.

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    1. I'm so glad I could be an encourager to you, Betsy. I continue to pray for you and your ministry! Hope all is well. xx

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  8. I love this analogy, Linda:
    "I have noticed, in my journey with God, that life can sometimes be like geocaching. We are looking for something – our purpose, a new direction, or perhaps a specific answer to prayer – but we aren’t sure exactly what we will find."
    We just have to be open (although easier said than done!) and accepting. I don't always like what I find but I have to trust that God is up to something good in it. Thanks for this.

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    1. You are most welcome, Lisa! I pray that whatever God has in store for you today, you will see His goodness in it!

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  9. I apologize for dropping in on your blog like this

    I want to let you know, that I opened a survey this afternoon for RABlog week 2016. I hope you will drop by and answer a few questions about Blog week so I can do some planning. The survey link is:

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QY52KKP

    Rick Phillips

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    1. No worries, Rick! I'm looking forward to spending a week with you and our RA blogger friends again this year! Your RABlog Week is such a blessing to so many. I'll go on the survey today. Be blessed! ((Gentle hugs))

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