Learning from sickness

I didn’t necessarily think I would be able to outrun the coronavirus forever, but after nearly two years of avoiding this dreaded disease, I was feeling pretty good about my chances. Until I wasn’t.

On a recent Thursday morning, I felt like I had a bad cold, a really bad one. It was worse than the flu, but not unmanageable. I worked from home all day and pushed through the body aches, runny nose, cough and chills. The headache was the odd thing and the fact that I felt worse by the end of the day than at the beginning made me think I could be COVID positive.

Sure enough, a test early Thursday evening revealed that COVID had caught me. My activities in the previous days were no different than at other times. I had been around people and ministered like I normally do. However, somewhere along the line, I became COVID infected and for the past few days have dealt with the symptoms. Connie, my wife, also tested positive the next day.

Here are some things I discovered during my bout with the coronavirus:

1. Being sick makes me more compassionate to others: When I am sick, I tend to think that I am sicker than anyone else. That was not the case this time. One of my first discoveries was great compassion for those who endured — or passed from — the earliest COVID cases. They had it much worse than I did and the agony of struggling to breathe, being hospitalized, isolated from others, must have been incredibly difficult. This has helped me remember that COVID is more than a political divide. It is a fast-spreading sickness that to date has claimed the lives of more than 800,000 Americans. Projections were given in a recent BBC report that 50 percent of Europe will be infected with the Omicron variant within six to eight weeks. We can’t seem to stop COVID, but we can show compassion to those who are sick. 

2. Requesting prayer requires me to humble myself: I am a private person and seldom ask for personal prayer. James 5:14, however, commands believers to seek prayer when they are sick. When my COVID test came back positive I reached out to friends and family on Facebook and Twitter to ask for prayer. While I would love to progress through life without needing to ask for help from others, that is just not the way the Lord has designed the Christian life. I am grateful for those who prayed for me and Connie during our time of sickness.

3. Being sick is less difficult in community: When Connie and I promised our faithfulness to one another 29 years ago, we couldn’t have known that the sickness part would include COVID. It was good that we could care for one another through our sickness. The New Testament includes more than 100 “one another” phrases. We are told to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, etc. Connie and I were able to exercise a few of those commands during our quarantine, making our time together more pleasant.

4. The kindness of others means a lot when you are sick: We received multiplied kindnesses from so many different people. We discovered homemade soup left on our front porch. We enjoyed groceries and a visit to our garage. We had generous offers from many to bring meals or order them for us online. People were kind to us, and it meant a lot. 

5. There are spiritual applications as well: Gunner Gunderson posted on Twitter the other day, “After having COVID recently, I still can’t taste anything. But like many of you, I keep eating, because I know it’s good for me. Sometimes I can’t taste the Bible either, but I know I still need it every day.” Being sick can be a time to remember that our life is in God’s hands, the gospel promises a future without sickness and that God is our ultimate healer.

Unfortunately for me, I have always had to learn most lessons the hard way. I would prefer to never be sick — but if I must be sick, I at least hope to learn something from it.

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