Lesson on Grace from Gout
For two weeks now, I have been limping because of gout. The first time it happened, I woke up with a painfully swollen right ankle. Of course, I blamed Maryan for beating me up in the middle of the night, which she vehemently denied. Everyone believed her and not me. Oh well.
I have learned that gout is caused by the crystallization of uric acid in the blood system. Uric acid is heavier than water, so it settles in the lowest part of the body, and most people get it on their big toe. There are many causes, but to my great dismay, however, wine and beer also are bad for those who suffer from gout. Bah Humbug.
It has been more than 15 years since I got my first gout attack, and you would think I would have learned; apparently, I am a very slow learner or just too stubborn for my own good. I continue to get bouts of gout even though I take medication that is supposed to prevent gout. You know what that means. I enjoy more good beer than my body can handle. Darn it.
It has been a week and a half since the gout attack began, and I am still limping. This is the longest it has lasted. As I had to put my feet up during the day to prevent them from becoming elephant feet, I saw a parallel between my gout and my spiritual life. Eureka.
The pain reminds me that I have to change my behavior regarding beer and red meat. Most of the time, I listen to pain and abstain from those things that cause my pain. Mind you; these behaviors have been prescribed to me already by my doctor. However, for various reasons - or excuses, as Maryan calls them - I go back to my bad behaviors. Having lived with pain for the past two weeks, I am glad God does not give us a “spiritual gout” when we do not follow. Thank God.
As we work to grow in our faith, we develop new attitudes and behaviors that help us on our journey of following Jesus. However, we have old habits that, at times, distract us. Most of the time, we are not even aware that we have gone back to our old ways. The Spirit of God guides us by awakening our hearts to God’s ways, but there is no punishment for our failures to follow. Hallelujah.
Some conservative NOT-christians actually believe that their God will punish them for every little thing they do. They live in fear that every mistake is so horrific that their deity will cast them out. They look for formulaic rituals that will “guarantee” them a safe passage into eternal bliss; By reciting certain words, they truly believe they can hide their sins from their God. It appears the pain of fear they carry is far more painful than the pain of “hell” they live to avoid. Ouch, that hurts.
While my body lets me know that I need to change my ways, God speaks gently and quietly as I listen to the Spirit. While my gout pain screams at me, God’s Spirit speaks softly in those moments of the quietness of my soul. I am glad God deals with me with grace and not pain. Thank you, God.
Let us be the people who listen to the quiet so we may hear the voice of God speaking to us.