So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The closest I can come to an explanation is that every time something's off kilter in my body, my skin reflects that. Anything from a large amount of gluten or sugar, to imbalanced pH levels, to an overtaxed liver, to low thyroid hormone can result in a very nasty skin rash. We've discovered levels upon levels of causes but no surefire cure. At least not for the past 13 years, and I've tried a lot of cures.
Skin irritation may not sound like much, and sure, sometimes things look great: hardly a mark on my face, skin that's soft and healthy. More often, though, a red rash covers my arms and neck (since the age of 12, when the problem first surfaced, I've become accustomed to solicitous strangers asking me about poison ivy). At the worst moments I deal with reptilian dryness and/or intense itching and inflammation. Hardest of all is when that inflammation centers on my face, as it has done especially since the beginning of my pregnancy. Those are the days I want to hide, because I feel ugly and because I can't concentrate on anything but my own physical misery. Those are the days when I wonder if God has any purpose at all in this.
The past month has been remarkably difficult; I have felt as though I was being attacked by my own body. Most of the time my skin is simply a minor affliction and I give thanks that I don't face anything more serious, but in seasons like this, I can truly say that it is suffering. Painful and confounding.
But I do believe, even if through tears, that God works in every trial for the good of each of his children. As John Piper has recently put it, God is always doing ten thousand things in our lives . . . though we may only see three of them. (Or maybe none at all.)
I plan to write a small series of posts in the upcoming weeks. They will be my attempt to perceive, and to capture, some of those things.