Isn’t it funny how certain aspects of life take on a whole new meaning as time goes by? I remember when the number 19 was just a number between 1 and 20 and the term “Corona” was a brand of Mexican beer. Certainly now, the number “19” and the word “Corona” have a whole new meaning. For most of us: we have heard of nothing else, from our news outlets, neighbors, communities, nation and world than the COVID-19 pandemic. I, for one, am growing care worn of the constant barrage of ever-changing news, health recommendations and divisive commentary. I am sure I’m not alone in this. Some of you might also know that I was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the third week of July. I was blessed that I only experienced a mild case. I can gladly say that I am well and deliriously happy to be back at work. As I was “doing my time” in solitary confinement (2-week quarantine) I had ample time to take note of what the Lord was teaching me through this illness. I realized that although we have seen positive aspects of the pandemic: interesting human interest stories, acts of kindness and the like, I couldn’t think of a single one that related to a follower of Jesus sharing insights from the Lord after experiencing this illness. I asked the Lord to give me something from Him to share, something lasting, not only for me, but for the body of Christ. My aim was to provide an uplifting account that can fly in the face of our gloom and doom culture. This is what I learned.
I am a naturally cautious person, generally a rule follower, only willfully bucking the system when guidelines are Pharisaical. Guidelines rooted in wisdom and sound research, I do my part and follow the rules. I have a background in healthcare, and although not an expert in immunology, I knew enough about COVID-19 to know this virus was nothing to be trifled with. I am also a naturally anxious person, so I normally play it safe. I love to cook and bake and therefore am extremely careful about food safety. My family and I continued to live our lives, but I can say with confidence that we were more cautious than most. We washed our hands, confiscated toys that were placed in or near our child’s mouths, turned down invitations to fellowship with friends, patronized restaurants using curb-side or pick up only, ventured out when it was essential (for the most part) and even sanitized our groceries.
I still got sick.
Lesson learned: Caution can’t prevent everything, but recklessness often brings more trouble that one can handle.
In July, after much thought and prayer, we decided that we would make our way to Indiana to visit our families. After all, our families had also been very cautious and we planned to stay at the house, hang out and just enjoy each other’s company. I had not laid eyes on my family in over 6 months. I longed to see them. Just a month or so before, my family believed that my mother’s cancer had returned and for 1 awful week as we waited for pathology results, I carried the weight of a reality most of us will face, losing a parent. To the glory of God, cancer cells looked very similar to the benign cells in her lungs. Our family rejoiced and breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Lesson learned: Some risks are worth taking. Our great God measures risk better than anyone else, so consulting Him is best.
In March we all watched our community shut its’ collective doors like we have never seen before. We all sheltered in place. For many of us, an unwelcome guest came to stay, waiting at each one of our homes to greet us, to invade the joyful moments and private thoughts of our everyday lives: fear. I didn’t recognize fear at first. I did however notice how every little interruption, plea from my children or question from my husband grated on my already frayed nerves. A conversation with my boss came to mind. He said “Anger is often a cover for fear”. He was right. The Lord is so good at reminding us of truth, often when we need it the most (John 14:26). I then went to the Lord and asked Him to reveal what I was afraid of. In a very significant way, the Lord in His mercy revealed to me what I already knew: I was afraid of getting sick. Fast forward to late July. I had just tested positive for COVID-19. I was gripped with fear, this time not for myself, but for my family. What if I passed this virus to my family? Days passed slowly by and no one else showed any symptoms. We made it back to Oxford the week of 7/27th. I woke up on the morning of 7/29th feeling much better than the previous day. I started my day with a shower, and to my delight could smell the scent of the shampoo. I should mention that up until this point I had completely lost my sense of taste and smell. I rejoiced and praised God for a small step in the direction of recovery. The Lord spoke clearly to me in that moment “See, what you were afraid of happened, and I am leading you through”. Yes Lord.
Lesson learned: God stands ready to reveal to us what we are afraid of. He is faithful. He will do it. He will lead us through.
I am thankful I got COVID-19. Yes, you heard me right. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not a glutton for punishment. I don’t enjoy pain, hassle, suffering or uncertainty. In fact, I hate all those things I just mentioned. I am thankful for the lessons I learned, lessons I don’t know I could have learned if I was not touched by this illness. Am I thankful that I missed time with my family as I quarantined, couldn’t hug and kiss my babies, couldn’t cook my own meals, was forced to give up control and ask for help, spent my birthday in isolation? No. However, I love Jesus and want to walk with my Lord, staying close to my Rabbi so I can hear His words of instruction. If suffering in this life will give me a greater perspective of who He is, so be it. The list of what I am thankful for is much longer
- I got over being sick before my husband started teaching his semester at Ole Miss
- My mother in law helped my husband care for the house and kids when I was sick
- Not one of my family members was infected
- Friends brought us food, vitamins, flower arrangements, groceries, you name it
- Texts and calls poured in, checking up on my progress
- You as my church family prayed for me
- Time to reflect on health and ways I can take better care of myself
- A good God who heals
Lesson learned: No sane person invites trouble to come. No wise person ignores the lessons trouble brings along.
I saved the lesson I believe is the most important for last. I hardly know how to put such a profound lesson into words. Anything and everything we face has been pre-approved to take place in our lives by our God. Nothing slips past God. Everything is carefully sifted through His fingers. What is allowed is only meant for our good. Good can be disguised as sickness, heartbreak, hassle, stress or periods of boredom and waiting. I don’t understand it, but I’ve experienced this phenomena more times than I count. One of my favorite quotes is from C.H. Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages”.
Lesson learned: God never inflicts pain for nothing. All things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).