I have a confession to make, in my heart of hearts, I am a utilitarian. I love useful things and I love things because they are useful. When I chose my car, I didn’t care how it looked, but I loved that it handled well in the snow and got good gas mileage. Almost everything I own is like this, very little care for aesthetics or nostalgia, but instead for usefulness. I understand that not everyone lives this way, but it works for me and makes me happy.
It does come with its own set of problems, however. My habit of determining an object’s value by its usefulness can sometimes spill over into how I determine my own value. The first couple months of this year, this wasn’t a problem for me at all. I started a new job, a master’s degree program and was seeing increases in my physical fitness, so I felt great about myself. Until, in late April, when I accidentally sprained my wrist, I was forced to stop working the job I love and am very productive at and instead sit behind a desk, functionally only having 1 hand. Finishing up my projects for the semester became incredibly frustrating, because my typing was slowed to snail pace. I had to take a step back from playing praise band and could no longer work out in the gym. In short, I lost my ability to be useful.
This loss of usefulness came with a loss of a sense of self worth. Prior to my injury this error was subtle; I didn’t realize that I had been viewing myself this way. That is why I believe that this injury was a gift from God, a gentle chastisement to point my eyes back to the gospel. Heb 12:5, 6 says “…you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives’”
At the cross, I see both what all my supposed usefulness is really deserving of, even at its best but I also see just how valued and loved I am in spite of myself. The Gospel declares that all true human worth and dignity is actually found outside of our performance and instead in God’s loving gracious character. I am thankful that God will use even unfortunate circumstances to remind us of that.