A Boy with a Withered Arm, the Blessing Amidst the Curse

39 years ago Doctor Dixon walked tearfully into my mother’s hospital room as she awoke from surgery giving birth to twin boys. The doc was beside himself and upset to tell her that although her babies were doing well, baby “B” was born missing most of his left arm.

I OFTEN FORGET I'M MISSING MY LEFT ARM!

Now it may be hard for you to believe, but I honestly often forget that I’m missing most of my left arm. In fact, I even get a little startled into reality when I see myself in pictures or video. My lack of awareness most likely comes from the fact that having one arm hasn’t really slowed me down much in life. As a child, I was never teased too much and If someone was overly curious I always had two protective brothers at my side ready to pounce. I grew up doing the normal things boys loved to do like riding bikes, building forts, playing baseball, hunting and working construction with my dad. When it came time for driving I didn’t think twice about purchasing an ‘84 Jetta diesel with a stick shift. I approached the one-arm life as a challenge and thank my parents for never coddling me or holding me back from pursuing the harder things.

I’m not saying I haven’t had difficult times or struggles with my “short arm”, I have. I remember being bothered sometimes by curious pointing or stares from others, especially adults. I also remember being somewhat self-conscious as a teenager and wondering if it would be a deterrent to my pursuit of a future wife. (For those who know my beautiful wife Kim, she’s completely blown that theory right out of the water!). As an emerging adult, I remember potential employers looking twice at me wondering if I would be more of a liability than help. However, by God’s grace, I learned that my disability has been more of a blessing than a curse.

WHY ARE WE IMPERFECT?

The biblical reason anyone is born or receives any kind of abnormality or imperfection in this world is because of one thing, the ongoing curse due to sin. As Adam and Eve committed cosmic treason in the garden, God being holy and just, banished humanity from his very presence and brought forth the curse of death, pain, suffering and toil (Gen 3:14-19). God had every right to destroy humanity forever, but in his infinite mercy allowed mankind to continue living, while subjecting us to a broken and dying world. My physical disability is a direct result of the sin of our first parents Adam & Eve, but we must also remember that if you or I were in their place, we would have done the exact same thing. Missing a portion of my arm is a very slight affliction compared to much more serious difficulties inherent to our fallen world, and one has to ask what purpose God has in allowing these things to happen?

Romans 8:18-20 says “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope”.
The resulting repercussions of our sin are easily witnessed wherever you turn, from physical abnormalities, disease, and death, to broken relationships, social strife and moral decay. Our futile universe presents a grievous reminder that God takes sin seriously.

EXAMINE YOURSELF

In light of God’s judgement for sin and the subjection of his creation to futility, ask yourself these questions of examination:

How does my propensity and perspective towards indwelling sin align with God’s holy character and righteous judgments?
Do I think far too lightly about my ongoing transgressions?
When I find myself in that certain sin again, do I languish in fear and lose all sense of hope?
Let us never forget the seriousness of our sin in light of our Holy God, but be careful to notice that the purpose of God’s judgement is not for the sake of justice alone. Paul says that God “subjected it, in hope”, therefore the ultimate goal of God’s subjection of creation to hardship is to point sinful humanity to a greater hope. This hope is that “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). As a person repents of sin and trusts in Christ for salvation they are adopted as a child of God and are set free from the bondage of sin to an everlasting hope.  

RECALIBRATE YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Have you ever thought of looking at the fallen world around you with all its struggles, pain and imperfections and instead of wallowing in crippling despair, consider God’s ultimate purpose of hope?
Have you ever looked at your own physical or emotional struggles and embraced them as an act of divine mercy and grace to point you yet again to your need for Christ?
Do you think you should recalibrate your perspective of our fallen world and see God’s ultimate purpose of hope found only in Christ and the restoration of all things? (Acts 3:21).
Scripture tells us that there will be a day when Christ will create a new heaven and a new earth and God will dwell once again with man for all eternity.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4)
BLESSING AMIDST THE CURSE

The tears shed by Doctor Dixon and my parents were true and valid because they echoed the pain of the fall of humanity, but the blessing amidst the curse far outweighs the anguish of this temporary life. As I think about living without a limb and the small challenges I’ve faced, my heart goes to those enduring much greater afflictions. I don’t equate what I’ve gone through as anything even close to those suffering much more severe effects of our fallen creation. Nonetheless, wherever we are and whatever we're facing, trust the Lord and wait with eager longing for that day when we will be glorified and in the very presence of our Saviour.  As we wait, let us never forget to mine the treasures of hope that God is revealing amidst our afflictions and pain.

In Christ

Quentin Whitford