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Grace Notes - Finger food for thought

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By The Staff

I spent four and a half days last week with my middle finger on my left hand either in a stiff brace or taped together with a neighboring finger.

I'm not sure what happened, but I was at work Monday, typing, and I noticed my middle finger hurt every time it hit a key and then I noticed it had turned purple. The more I typed the more it turned purple and then it turned numb.

That's not normal, I thought, and then ignored it. I'm a firm believer in la la land. Ignore things and they'll go away. Probably. Maybe, if I hope really, really long and hard enough.

By Thursday my finger had turned the color of a nice Merlot and I'd basically lost the feeling in the tip. Sadly, the only way I know how to type is with one finger and that one's it.

Long, unexciting and utterly trivial story short, I had it checked out and was given doctor's orders to keep my finger still for a few days, which meant no typing.

So for the next four and a half days I managed to do my regular stuff awkwardly with my right hand, occasionally cheated and used my left hand, or I asked for help. I discovered that my husband is a consummate pro at making the bed, scrubbing pots, chopping cabbage and opening jars.

However, even though he was more than willing to help me, I don't much like asking for help or being dependent on other people.

It's the American way to be self-sufficient, but not the Christian way.

In God's economy, which is counter-intuitive and unnatural, his people are supposed to act interdependently with one another, with the stronger caring for the weaker.

It goes further than that. In God's economy it's actually the weak who have great value. I almost wrote "greater value than the strong," but I'm not sure if God has a rating system. But I do know that God specifically chooses the weak to bestow his blessings on.

There's a story in the Bible about a crippled man named Mephibosheth. He was the son of Jonathan, King David's dear friend, and when David wanted to show favor to someone from Jonathan's family and Mephibosheth was the only one left. It's written that the crippled man ate at King David's table from then on, just like a son.

This weak man was given a place of honor in the king's palace and was treated with great kindness and respect, not contempt or even pity.

As I write this, my injured finger is greenish-yellow, which means the bruise is healing, but it's still sore. All week I've been careful not to injure it further. I've been gentle with it, making accommodations for it so it can get back to typing my stories.

Also all week I've been thinking about my attitude toward weakness, or at least those I consider weak - the poor, the sick, the ones I judge based on their appearance, those who don't share my definition of what it means to live by grace.

I've concluded that I'm not very tolerant of those I consider weak, and I am woefully wrong. I'm not intolerant or haughty toward my bruised and sprained finger. On the contrary.

Yet I dare to be that way about my weak fellow believers. As I said, I am woefully wrong.

For those who call themselves Christ followers, we are called to bear one another's burdens, to walk together, to share our strengths with one another. We're not to despise the weaker members or think of them as less valuable, but to brace them - to embrace them.

Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and one injured finger affects the way the entire hand works, one weakened member of Christ's church affects the health of the entire body of believers. We are one body. When one hurts, all hurt. When one is helped, all are helped.

We are (I am!) to love and care for - and care about - the weaker members of the family of God. By doing so, the Bible says, we fulfill the law of Christ. To do less is to our shame.