Dr. Paul Brand tells of one of his patients, a Mr. Barwick, who had a serious and painful circulation problem in his leg. The doctors recommended amputation, but Mr. Barwick refused. Finally, the pain became too intense and Mr. Barwick agreed to the operation.

In the lead up to the operation, Mr. Barwick grew to hate his leg so much that he asked the doctor to preserve it for him in a large pickling jar. He planned to place it on his mantelpiece and then sit in his armchair and taunt it saying, “Ha! You can’t hurt me anymore!” 

The doctor followed Mr. Barwick’s instructions, but sadly, it was the leg that got the last laugh. Barwick developed a severe case of phantom limb pain. He hated the leg with such intensity that the pain of the wound lodged permanently in his brain.

Thought: Phantom limb pain provides a wonderful insight into the phenomenon of false guilt. Christians can be obsessed by the memory of some sin committed years ago. It never leaves them, crippling their ministry, their devotional life, their relationships with others. They live in fear that someone will discover their past. They work overtime to prove to God that they’re truly repentant.

~ Dr. Paul Brand & Philip Yancey, Leadership Magazine, Summer, 1984.