"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Beethoven was a virtuoso performer of whom, it is reported, could improvise on any line. Going deaf nearly drove him to suicide.

But his handicap forced him to refocus.  Herr Ludwig picked up the tattered remains of his greatest strength--his ears--now mere echos in his mind--and became one of the greatest Western composers ever to breathe.

The patriarch Jacob was a pretty-boy he-man.  He single-handedly watered Rachel's flocks and broke his back working off her dowry for a greedy, scheming father-in-law.    Wily, wiry, and lively, Jacob built an empire largely on the former's discards.

But one night, he lost a very important wrestling match to a divine Opponent, and, although Jacob was allowed to "win" the fight, it came at the cost of a permanent limp.  

It made him a man of prayer.  And he became Israel.

At age seventeen, Joni Eareckson Tada suffered a diving accident which left her paralyzed from the neck down. The formerly uber-athletic teenager would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Joni's life and ministry have touched the world; her artwork--created by holding the instruments between her teeth--has been seen worldwide.  She has sung, written books, hosts a radio program, and is the founder of Joni and Friends, an international charity.  

So, was her accident the cracking of the shell to let the precious yolk of blessing come forth?

As a child, my reading ability was considerable.  I was fast, my recall and analysis accurate and my appetite for books was voracious.  However, at the age of fifteen I developed a reading ability which made what had been my easiest and supreme intellectual pleasure painful and slow.  My need to read and study was juxtaposed by an inability to do that without great difficulty.  This has affected me for the last 40 years, more or less.

One year I pruned our roses  low according to the Youtube instruction of a very competent farmer.  I had the mercy of an assassin:  I cut away the dead wood, and left only the green "V"s of the stalks which were now cut beyond cognition.  I think my husband thought I was going a little crazy.

But I was following instructions not my own.  The confident smile of the experienced farmer in the video told me that he knew what he was doing, and I was willing to trust him with the results.

That spring, our bushes were HEAVY with beautiful blooms, the likes of which I never saw again when my husband, God rest his soul, trimmed them in a more generic way.

I had been surgical with my branch removal; God is the Master of all surgeons.

So many things are cut off from our lives.  Like a pruned plant, the nutrition is concentration into those areas which show the most promise. The plant has no idea what is best for it, but the gardener does.

After sincere prayer during the which I told the Lord repeatedly that I couldn't make sense of my life, I am finally starting to see His light:  In thy light we shall see light (Psalm 36:9).  God, in His faithfulness, has allowed me to pass through the furnace of affliction.  

So, did God allow my reading ability to be taken because amassing an encylcopaedic knowledge would have puffed me up?  Maybe.  Was it to keep me from filling my head with useless philosophies?  Could be.  Was it to cut me off from things, as blinders to a horse, which might distract or destroy me?

This is possible. I am not saying that He did this, but I can now see how weakness has blessed my life.  Has it helped me to develop empathy and charity?  Yes.  Can I relate to people to whom I once felt myself decidedly intellectually superiour? Hallelujah--yes.

So, did God let these this be so that I can suffer and mourn what I once had, or rather to narrow my focus and concentrate on what He has placed me on Earth to do?

Beethoven, Jacob, Joni.  Insert your name, here?