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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Challenge (NOT the FaithWriters Challenge) (06/10/10)

TITLE: Works in Progress
By Patricia Protzman


“Oh no, I’ll be disabled. My life is finished.” I moaned as my doctor told me the results of the blood tests with the diagnosis.”

“Ilene, I have several other patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They lead active lives. As a nurse I know you are familiar with RA, but there are new medications which prevent joint deformities and allow people to live pretty normal lives.”

“Yes, Doctor Miles, but the disease can progress into other serious conditions such as diabetes.”

“True, but you will be closely monitored.”

“Here’s the name of a rheumatologist and a prescription for prednisone until you can see him. Call me if you have questions or need more medication.”

“Thanks,” I muttered.

I envisioned myself disabled, deformed, and dependant upon others. “Is this my destiny, Lord?”

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

My husband met me in the waiting room.

“Well, what’s the verdict, Ilene?”

“Rheumatoid arthritis, here’s a prescription to fill.”

“Will the medication take care of the pain and stiffness in your fingers? Jim asked holding the clinic door open.”

“I hope it will. But my health is in jeopardy. The disease could spread to other joints and cause more serious problems. Jim, why did God permit this?”

Jim patted my shoulder and assisted me into the car; we rode in silence to the drug store.

“I won’t be long, hon.” Jim said as he closed the car door.

My mind returned to the day I heard God speak to me. I asked the Lord what I could do for Him when I retired from nursing. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Write a book.”

“Personal letters, nurse’s notes, and essay assignments in school are the extent of my writing experience, Lord. I’m not sure I know how.”

One rainy afternoon, I plopped into a chair in front of a blank Word document and wrote a poem. Several months later I joined a Christian writing site. Last year I resolved to compose my first novel.

"Lord, I’m scared. Why have you abandoned me?” I prayed, as tears splashed onto my lap. “Please help me.”

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Jim returned in a few minutes. He saw my tear-streaked face and said, “Honey, let’s pray.”

“Father, we know you allow hardships into our lives for a purpose. Please increase Ilene’s faith. We thank you for Your promises and ask to be hidden in the shelter of Your tabernacle, for there we will find comfort and safety. Amen.”

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice: in the morning I lay my request before you and wait in expectation.

I learned it would be forty days until I could see the rheumatologist. In the meantime, I finished the prescribed medication. A few days later I awoke to stabbing paroxysms in every joint in my body.

Dr. Miles ordered a low dosage of prednisone for thirty days which relieved a fair amount of pain but not enough to work on my book. My faith took a nosedive. I spent most of my days tearful, afraid, and blaming God.

The appointment with the rheumatologist arrived. I discovered RA still has no cure. The new medication for treating the chronic disease could cause cancer and other formidable conditions. I prayed, took the medication, and waited.

Two days later I awoke to mild aches and joint stiffness in my fingers and right wrist. I found typing easier than painful attempts to hold a pen or pencil. By the end of two weeks, I finished a chapter of my book.

My afflictions have drawn me closer to God. I asked the Lord to forgive my lack of faith and anger. My trust and reliance on Him will sustain and keep me through adversities which come my way.

I am a work in progress. God continues to refine and shape me by the work of the Holy Spirit. My first novel is also a work in progress. I have three more chapters to complete.
I do not know what tomorrow will bring but I do trust the Lord and His promises.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/17/10
Oh I could relate on so many levels. You did an outstanding job of describing the fear and how one's mind can race to all of the what-ifs. Great story, it speaks volumes at how our faith can get us through and how sometimes we need to be reminded and comforted like a young child.
Ruth Brown06/18/10
You describe some real challenges! I'm so glad there is now voice technology that can be incorporated onto ones computer. Hopefully no RA sufferer will ever lose the opportunity to share their talents for writing.
Well done.
Brenda Shipman 06/20/10
What a precious encouraging testimony of how God's Word can carry us through the most difficult of times! I do hope you try submitting this as a magazine article, because it is well-written, heartfelt, and shines with truth and beauty. And hurry up with that novel - we'll all be waiting to read it!