cal·lous [kal-uhs]
1. made hard; hardened.
2. insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic: "They have a callous attitude toward the sufferings of others."
3. having a callus; indurated, as parts of the skin exposed to friction.

The hardening of the skin is inevitable: handle the tool long enough, work enough hours with it, and your hand will shape to it, the dense patches of yellow skin forming a glove for that tool, that work.  First, the pain as skin pulls, fluid collects in the little blister there where the rub is, it bursts open and bathes your hand in the white fire of exposed flesh.  You keep swinging, and the burn becomes an ache, and then fades to nothing, and in a few days you pick up the tool and find that your hand likes this shape.  Remembers this shape.  Is made for this shape.

You can stall a good thing, pretty early in the game.  Toss the tool aside when the blister pops.  If you leave the work, walk away in a huff, it is your soul that grows a callous instead, a selfish callous, a callous on the heart that shirks pain for an easier path.  And every time you pick up the tool and set to work again, days later, the pain returns, the fire-brand pain of a tender layer of skin that has never grown into this work.

There are parts of my soul that have done this work before, the work of suffering physically and spiritually at the same time.  I go back to this work and find that there is a callous, that I am prepared, ready, and able for this task.  I am reminded that I carry not only the life of Christ in my soul, but also the death. (II Corinthians 4 again...we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.)

Let me die quickly to self in this matter, as in all others.  Let me shoulder the work at hand without frustration, lethargy, paralysis of the spirit or the hands as I am called into battle.  Give me strength for this round, God.  I am in the part of the match where I'm almost praying someone knocks me out.  Help me to stay present in this day, this week, this situation, this life.  Help me accept it as a gift from you, God...despite the pain of today and the pain looming large tomorrow.

I am reminded, by the words of an old hymn echoing in my synapses, that you have not forsaken me, and that your grace is shown for it's glorious perfection when I am weak and tired.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

~ Great is Thy Faithfulness, Thomas Chisholm, 1923 ~