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Suffering through sickness

I think everyone can agree – it’s no fun being sick.  I was sick for two weeks in February with a high fever and body aches due to a bacterial sinus infection.  I felt miserable physically and what was even more frustrating for me – I had to cancel a few ministry activities.  First, I had to cancel a trip to the Isthmus where Nils and I were going to do a marriage seminar at a Covenant church.  But, what I really did not want to miss out on was the Hechos 29 (see here for past blog entry about this) retreat in Mexico City, where I was to facilitate three workshops and more importantly spend time with and encourage young leaders in the Mexican Covenant Church.  I was praying, “please God just let me get better in time for the retreat”.  Well, God didn’t answer my prayer as I had hoped.  I was feeling much better than before, but the truth was I was still pretty weak, and in the end, we decided it was better I stay home and continue to rest.

This was very hard for me to accept!  I didn’t realize how much I wanted to be at the retreat, until it was taken away from me.  I did not react well.  I cried.  I got angry at God and others!  I didn’t treat my family very well.  And, all the while, I tried to figure out why God would have allowed this, and more reluctantly I tried to believe maybe there was something I needed to learn through all of this.

The truth is I didn’t want to learn the lesson.  I was too upset.  But, as the days passed and I expressed my anger to God, I started to sense that there was some change that needed to take place in me.  I realized that I often put my worth and my value in my ministry, in the things that I do, or accomplish, when God isn’t looking for what I can do for Him, but for how I can be with Him.  I realized that sometimes I say yes to too many things and then what ends of losing out are my relationships, first with God, then with my family.

Through my sickness, I got back in touch with the longing of my heart is to be close to God, to know Him and be known by Him, and my desire to have more time to just play and be with my kids.  The lyrics of the Graham Kendrick song, Knowing you, Jesus, come to mind…

Oh, to know the power of your Risen Life

And to know You in Your sufferings

To become like you in your death, my Lord

So with you to live and never die

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you

There is no greater thing…

I shared with a friend about my sickness, struggle through it and what I was learning.  She helped me see the connection of what I was experiencing and the Lenten season – that maybe God was calling me to take more time to be with Him and my family this Lent.  Suddenly I saw that my schedule during Lent was more open than normal, and rather than feeling like I had to fill it with ministry activities I saw it as a blessing – an invitation to enjoy being with God and my family.

How is it going this Lent?  It’s going OK.  There are always more activities on our schedule than we realize, like just the regular daily or weekly activities.  However, I have been able to be more intentional about finding quiet times with God, playing with the boys, or reading Scripture together as a family. I’ve had more time to rest.  It has also been a little bit easier for me to enter into the suffering of those who are close to me during this Lenten season.

Although I certainly could NOT have given thanks to God for getting sick and missing out on my ministry commitments during my illness; now that I have had a chance to reflect and hear from God, I can genuinely give thanks for that time of sickness:  for slowing me down, for being more attentive to my family, for calling me to Himself, for loving me not because of what I can do for Him, but simply because I am a child of His upon whom He freely rains down His unconditional love and mercy.  Praise be to God!  Amen.

 

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4 thoughts on “Suffering through sickness”

  1. Hola Ericka!

    Realmente estos detalles de la vida nos enseñan mucho y me siento identificada contigo.

    Yo tuve una bacteria en mis pulmones por 2 meses. El asunto inició en Enero. Ha sido la peor enfermedad que he tenido durante mi vida adulta. Me sirvió enormemente para agradecer a Dios cada día en el que me levanto con salud. Generalmente agradezco a Dios por mi salud, pero la verdad había olvidado la magnitud de la bendición de levantarse con salud.

    Otra cosa que tuve que trabajar fue la paciencia, pues la verdad hubo momentos en que me sentí atrapada en mi propio cuerpo y pude tener una pequeña idea de la fuerza de voluntad que poseen las personas que tienen enfermedades muy complicadas por mucho tiempo.

    Así que aunque la enfermedad es tan desagradable, pues también nos enseña.

    Dios quiera podamos disfrutar de mucha salud en nuestras vida y cuando no, estar atentos a la enseñanza.

    Deseo que todos en tu familia estén muy bien.

    Un fuerte abrazo,

    Marce

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  2. Querida Marce, muchas gracias por tus comentarios. Compartes muchas aprendizajes importantes que podemos tener en el momento de sufrimiento como el agradecimiento y la empatía por las personas que sufren más que nosotros. Dios es bueno y está con nosotros siempre, pero a veces lo buscamos más cuando las cosas no salen como quisiéramos. Que podamos buscarle todos los días, si amanecemos sanos o enfermos, verdad? Bendiciones para toda nuestra familia tica!

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  3. Erika, I know how you feel and resonate well. I have had sciatica pain for 9 months now after moving the family to CO, and have recently come through a lumbar discectomy spine surgery that has laid me out for a week now. The doctor talks about a 6 week recovery and it feels impossible to wait so long. But in the waiting, mostly in bed 18 hours a day, I’ve read and cried and soaked in the word of God like rarely before.
    I can relate to canceling ministry plans, flights to conferences and even abstaining from helping with our church’s venue move to a movie theater b/c we were evicted from our building lease 3 months ago. I am “out of commission” and it’s the best way that God is getting ahold of me again. I wonder if Job’s faith grew even more in his sickness, than in his prosperity and productivity in the land.
    I love your post, and find it refreshing to know that God does his finest work when his broken vessels take on a little mending on the shelf for a while. Thank you for sharing and bringing joy to my heart again.

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  4. Reid, Thank you so much for sharing! What a struggle it is to be pulled away from the things we enjoy doing so much, and especially since they are things that seek to help and serve others! But, as you shared there is much to learn during those times – God is doing his work in us, producing the fruit of the Spirit, sometimes whether we appreciate it in the moment or not. May God continue to sustain you as you wait, hope and trust in Him, and may you be able to joyfully receive His amazing love for you through your family, congregation and unexpected moments and people.

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