I fell pretty sick on Labour Day.
I still remember it was a Tuesday morning, and I was furiously taking notes at Momentum 2018. I had already been feeling a little unwell – dry throat – the night before at BSF, but I figured I could just sleep it off.
But not until I could physically feel the ulcers beginning to grow in the back of my throat as I sat listening to Dr. Suzette Hattingh preach. When I got home after leaving early, the spots had already come out on my hands and feet. I was pretty sure I knew what it was — HFMD (Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease).
I suffered for the next 11 days. At one point there were close to 20 ulcers in my mouth. Though this wasn’t as bad as the time I got herpangina — a record 27 ulcers in my mouth — it still made for two very difficult weeks.
I couldn’t really talk, and eating was no fun at all. And the ulcers hurt so much they gave me headaches. I remained whiny and full of complaints for days until I took my frustration to God.
And thereafter I learnt a few things.
3 SENTIMENTS ON SICKNESS
1. Let your sickness teach you gratitude
The first few days were actually reasonably tolerable. It was Day 4 when the ulcers began to appear under my tongue. Then I really couldn’t talk properly at all. Because of how infectious HFMD is, it meant I couldn’t be around people.
After a few days of frustration, as I asked God why this had happened, I was reminded of just how much I missed my girlfriend. And longing has a way of growing affection — it made me treasure time together more.
Beyond that, being cared for by my mother, I was reminded how blessed I am by her. Though I felt horrible, it was a silver lining to know God had put a wonderful mother in my life to help get me through a difficult time. By the end of it, I appreciated her a lot more.
When Mother’s Day came around, I made sure to honour as best as I could.
2. Let your sickness remind you of stewardship
While I was resting at home, a good friend of mine messaged me to see how I was doing. And during our conversation, it dawned on me just how much I take health for granted.
I often sleep late, don’t eat well … I push my body to its limits in a negative way. But it’s only when you’re lying in bed, completely helpless apart from gobbling painkillers, that you realise you could be doing better.
I don’t want to live with a body that is kept together (just barely) by God’s grace, as far as I can be responsible for its welfare, I want it to be the temple it should be (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
It needs to be strong to lift my children. It needs to have stamina for long days. Strong knees for where ministry takes me. It needs to look and run like it’s managed by a man who honours God. My falling sick reminded me I’ve got a lot to do on that front.
3. Let your sickness inculcate compassion
For a few days, my prayers devolved into complaints and whiny lamentations about my condition. It was always: God, why? God, can you faster heal me?
Until I submitted my frustration to God, it never struck me that I throughout these prayers I did in fact have the certainty that I would make it out of my sickness. I knew I would be well — it was just a matter of time.
But other people don’t have that. Some are lying in bed and facing death. Some go through rounds and rounds of chemotherapy with hope — but no certainty they will be healed. I was ashamed to see how self-absorbed I had behaved in my suffering.
It made me consider how life must feel like for those facing giants in wards or hospices. And for people like my father, who faced down cancer and never wavered in their trust of God’s character as Healer, right up to their passing … It makes me marvel at their faith.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
So don’t waste your sickness. Whether it’s for a day, a week or an indefinite period, let your infirmity push you closer to God.
As I’ve learnt, we can count ourselves blessed that we can utterly rely on a Saviour who has already won the worst battle for us. Count ourselves loved that we have a constant fire in dark days; stand firm in the knowledge of God’s character.
Rest, knowing that no matter how our earthly, fragile bodies may let us down, He holds you and me in the palm of His hands.