By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Most dictionaries define gout basically as a form of arthritis “characterized by severe pain, redness, and tenderness in joints.”
Whoever wrote the definition apparently never had gout.
Words can’t adequately describe the pain associated with gout. “Severe” is not a strong enough term. And, yes, I admit I am a wimp when it comes to pain. But I speak from experience on this topic. I had gout about two weeks ago for the first, and hopefully last, time in my life.
In a matter of three days, I went from full mobility (relative term based on being overweight and 58 years old) to having to use two canes to drag myself around my house and to the doctor’s office.
Along the way, I reflected on some spiritual insights I learned from experiencing gout.
(1) Don’t take the simple blessings of life for granted. We wake up each day (a gift from God in its own right), get up, and begin our daily routine. Sometimes, it’s hard to get up. We take so many things for granted. For a number of reasons, there are countless people in this world who cannot walk, or speak, or see, or do any of the things we do naturally each day. When I lost the ability to walk normally across a room without wanting to cry, it made me acutely aware of how blessed I am. Sadly, I suspect I am not alone. I fear there are too many Christians who take the simple blessings of life for granted. I am resolving to thank God for allowing me to wake each day and to be able to move and participate in the basics of life. They are not guaranteed.
(2) All of life requires a strong foundation. Matthew 7:24-27 reminds us of the wise man who built his house on the rock. When the rain came and the wind blew, the house did not collapse. On the other hand, the foolish man built his house on the sand and it collapsed during the rain and wind storm. The feet are the foundation of the body. When they hurt, your entire body hurts.
(3) Pride can be your downfall. The Bible has a lot to say about pride. A cursory “Google” search reveals anywhere from 30 to more than 50 verses dealing with pride. There are probably more. Romans 12:16 commands us to “not be proud.” Proverbs 29:23 reminds us a man’s pride “will humble him” while another translation says it will “bring him low.” Truer words have never been spoken. When I finally resolved to myself that over the counter medication was not going to work, I went to the doctor, dragging myself there using two canes (as mentioned above). After my exam, the doctor sent me across the street for blood work to confirm what he suspected — a build up of uric acid in my blood. The lab is across the parking lot — a simple walk (if you don’t have gout). The nurse in his office was so kind and sweet. She offered to get me a wheelchair and take me to the lab. Pride reared its ugly head. I said no thanks. I could do it. After a 15-second walk turned into what seemed an eternity, I could imagine God looking down from heaven and just shaking His head at my stupid pride. World renowned preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “Pride may be set down as ‘the sin’ of human nature.” Pride has a way of getting (and keeping) people in trouble. It truly is a “sin” that everyone must deal with.
(4) Prayer still works. I don’t discount what the prescribed medicine did, but I know several people were praying for me during my bout with gout. And those prayers don’t even include my own. And, I am convinced God answered each and every one of those prayers. By the end of the week I was walking once again.
(5) Proverbs 3:5 still applies today. The King James Version of the Bible says it well: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” I may never know why I came down with gout at that particular time in my life. I had no forewarning. It certainly was not the best of time for me to deal with it, but that’s the way life is. We can’t pick and choose life’s setbacks or when they will happen. I think God may have used gout to get me to “slow down” and think about these spiritual insights.
Looking back on my experience, as painful as gout was, it was “nothing” compared to people who deal with life-threatening diseases such as cancer on a daily basis. But regardless of what we face, we can handle anything when we truly trust in the Lord.