Although God’s plans for her are still unknown, a college student places her life into her Savior’s hands.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” he said. “I see no reason why an 18-year-old girl’s hands don’t work. This should be the peak of your health.”
The hand surgeon was apologetic, but he remained detached and businesslike as he continued, “Unfortunately, I don’t know where to go from here. I’m sorry, but you’ve hit a dead end.”
It was Christmas break of my freshman year of college. I had experienced a rough first semester. My hands, which had always gotten sore and weak after playing too much piano, suddenly stopped working. They would grow cold and stiff, the circulation became poor, and they simply didn’t function. I could hardly type or write. I stopped playing my beloved piano, and I had to drop the organ class I was taking. Living the life of a college student became a daily struggle and required concessions from my professors.
By the time I visited the hand surgeon, I had already seen my family’s doctor, a therapist, and a neurologist. I had undergone numerous tests: blood drawn, X-rays taken, and shocks sent up and down my arms to check the nerves. No one had a solution. This hand surgeon was our last hope. But he didn’t have answers either.
Driving home from that appointment, it was all I could do to hold back bitter, sorrowful tears, but I knew if I started crying my mom would start too. We were desperate and discouraged. My mind was restless as I pondered the same questions over and over again. I wondered why my hands didn’t work like everyone else’s. I wondered if I would ever play piano again or learn how to play organ. I wondered if I could complete the music minor I had hoped for. I wondered why the doctors couldn’t help me.
That evening my dad set up a speech-to-text program on my computer. As I tried to make sense of my life, my thoughts tumbled out of my mind and onto the screen, and I spoke the first draft of this very article.
Some days life is just rough, but God is with me. He gives me the strength to go on, and he also gave me loving family and friends to support me. I am immensely blessed. Still, sometimes my tears fall, rolling silently down my cheeks when I’m on the phone or storming in a violent downpour when I’m alone.
But it’s okay.
I have realized that nobody’s life is perfect; everyone has trials. Life is a rocky road that dips and falls. The gravel is loose and the way is treacherous. Sometimes, we may get a flat tire. Sometimes, we may be stranded on the edge of the road and look up at the sky and say, “Why God? Why are we here? Why can’t we go where you promised?”
The Bible reminds us, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). It’s hard to give up control. I had grand plans, and I thought I knew exactly which path my life should take. But that wasn’t what God wanted for me. Maybe he wants that for me in the future, and right now he’s telling me to wait. Or perhaps he’s saying, “No, I have something different in mind for you.” I can plan, but I don’t have the final say. God has control.
In my human heart, I want to be in charge, but it is actually a beautiful gift that God is presiding over all. Sinful humans deserve only hell. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to climb out of the dark hole of sin; there is no way to earn heaven. But God loved this sinful world, and he sent Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life. Then, he stretched out his arms, and nails were pounded through his hands. He hung on the cross. Jesus died and rose again so that we can one day live in perfect bliss where there is no pain or suffering. There my hands will work again, and God will dry every single tear that falls from my eyes—and yours too.
So what about the time I live on this imperfect, painful earth? Well, it is my prayer that God uses me. I want my hands to be normal and healthy, but even without them—even if I never play piano again—God can work through me. I can still speak, teach, and show love.
I know that “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). I can tell people, “I know you’re hurting. I know life is hard and stressful and sometimes it doesn’t make any sense. But let me help you. I know about a God who loves you more than the most loving father ever. He saved you. I know peace, and I know about heaven.”
Today, I am a sophomore in college. Though it has been almost a year since my hand problems became severe, we have not found answers. Last summer consisted of various doctors’ visits, trying even a cardiovascular specialist. No diagnosis.
My hand problem continues, but I am learning to survive. I am learning to write fewer notes during class and to take tests using speech-to-text. I am learning to be joyful for others, even when they are experiencing blessings I can’t have because of my hands. Though my hands haven’t changed, I am more comfortable in my situation this year than last.
Every step of the way Jesus provides for me. I will always remember the professor who took me under her wing one day when I was broken. She held up her hand; it only had four fingers on it. She lost a finger in a car accident. This professor is a role model for her teaching ability, her kindness, and her Christian walk, but at that moment I only remember a feeling of peace and relief. I knew she understood.
When I grow weary, I am always given peace through comfort from a friend, one-on-one time with God, or a hymn like this one:
“Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand;
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, precious Lord; Lead me home.”
(Christian Worship 451:1)
Sometimes my heart is so heavy I can’t sing the words, but I send them silently as a prayer to my Savior. Someday, I will be home with him, but while I am here God can use my frail hands. As I live in this world, I have strength, because God gives me this comfort: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Even when my hands fail me, my all-powerful God holds me safe in his righteous right hand.
Elisabeth Hahm, a sophomore at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, is a member at Prince of Peace, Fairport, New York.
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Author: Elisabeth Hahm
Volume 105, Number 2
Issue: February 2018
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