The Pebble In My Shoe
Words by Chelsea Stanley
A few months ago, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare medical condition called autoimmune progesterone anaphylaxis. In layman’s terms, I am allergic to my own progesterone. Anytime my hormone levels rise, I run the risk of having an allergic reaction ranging from mild hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. There is no cure, aside from removing my ovaries and uterus, and that’s not a viable option at age thirty.
When I was first diagnosed, friends and family would ask how I was doing, and I struggled to answer. It’s a strange illness in that it tends to cause more mental anguish than physical discomfort. After a few months, though, I started aptly referring to it as “the pebble in my shoe.” Why a pebble? Because while I don’t walk around in overt pain on a daily basis, I am painfully aware of it with each and every step.
Maybe you have a pebble in your own shoe—a trial you’d love to shake but can’t. When faced with trials of this kind, I have learned that we have two options: we can choose to curse the pebbles, or we can choose to keep walking with Jesus (even with a bit of a limp). In choosing the latter, I have found that these little stones can actually be gifts—reminding us of our brokenness, humbling us in our need, training us in godliness, and causing us to look to Jesus.
Reminding Us of Our Brokenness
The pebbles in our shoes remind us that were not made to bear this kind of pain.
When God created the world, he saw that it was good (Gen. 1:31). It was healthy, fruitful, and unscathed. But when sin came into the world, it left no good thing untouched. Our bodies, the land, our work, and our relationships are all tainted with the stain of sin (Gen. 3:14–24).
Feeling our brokenness makes us long to be made completely whole again. And the good news for those who trust in Christ is that we will be made whole soon. Romans 8:22–23 says, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
As you groan, dear one, do not groan as one without hope. In his kindness, God has given us the Holy Spirit as a “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Eph. 1:14). Sin has broken us, but Christ has and will make us whole again.
Humbling Us in Our Need
Broken people are needy people. The pebbles in our shoes are daily reminders that we can’t walk this journey alone. We need help.
The apostle Paul had his own pebble, though he called it his “thorn” (2 Cor. 12:7). We’re not sure exactly what it was, but most scholars agree that it involved some sort of physical ailment. He asked God to take it away three different times, but God didn’t. Instead, he said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:8–9).
Paul’s thorn kept him reliant on God’s grace, and that’s what our pebbles do for us as well. If we try to walk alone with stones in our shoes, we’ll be met with blood and blisters. But if we allow Christ to be strong for us, we can rest easy as he carries us along.
Paul got to the point of being content with his need because he realized that it was when he was weak that he was actually strongest (2 Cor. 12:10). Oh, that we might be like Paul and delight in our own need—boasting in our pebbles because they point to the power of Christ!
Training Us in Godliness
God’s Word tells us that our trials—those uninvited pebbles—test our faith and train us in godliness. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James writes, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).
Be encouraged that God is using your pebbles to grow you in godliness, sister. Think of these trials as training exercises that are building your spiritual muscles. Like an athlete who grows stronger with each practice session, you are becoming more steadfast, more perfect, and more complete as you practice trusting in Jesus over and over again.
C.H. Spurgeon, a man who dealt with his own pebbles of debilitating pain and depression, said, “Our chief end is to glorify God, and if our trials enable us more fully to answer the end of our being, it is well that they should happen unto us.”
Keep training. Keep pressing on. These trials are for your good and God’s glory.
Causing Us to Look to Jesus
When you’re running along with a pebble in your shoe, you might be tempted to look down at your feet. But the greatest athletes would all tell you the same thing—“Eyes up!” Our journey here on earth is like a race to the finish line. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” the author of Hebrews writes, “looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1–2). Why do we look to Jesus? Because when we do, we see someone “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
Jesus knows the race. He ran it with pebbles in his shoes, and he finished it with a crown of thorns upon his head. Today, he wears the victory crown and sits in a place of honor. Look up, friend! He has conquered death, he has won the race, and he is waiting at the finish line cheering you on as you run towards him.
Pebbles of Grace
My heart aches as I think of the pebbles you might have in your shoe right now—infertility, strained relationships, financial hardship, sickness, exhaustion, anxiety, death of a loved one. Pebbles hurt, and it’s okay to pray that God will take them away. But in the meantime, let’s allow these little stones to be a means of grace in our lives—reminding us of our brokenness, humbling us in our need, training us in godliness, and causing us to look to Jesus.
His grace is sufficient. And sometimes, it comes in the form of a pebble in your shoe.