Four hundred miles from home it began: the rib-rattling coughing, the sinus-exploding sneezing, the bone-aching fever, and blanket-clutching chills. A virus had set up camp in my respiratory system, and so our visit to relatives would need to be cut short. I would miss seeing my niece and nephew elegantly dressed for their school dance.
The photos of a town known for its spring flowers wouldn’t happen. I’d only managed a few shots in the yard before the rain began (the first day of many).
When I called my husband to tell him of the change of plans, he shared the unwelcome news from home: the internet was down (he wasn’t sure when it would be fixed), and the raccoons had been back on the front porch at 3 am, leaving behind “calling cards” that only raccoons can.
Sigh. Worse than the relentless march of the virus was the invasion of self pity. It had crawled across my defenses when I wasn’t paying attention. Did I really think I deserved a trouble-free life?
I tried to amuse myself on the long drive home by reading license plates of cars that passed us on the Interstate. Who was the farthest from home? What could their personalized license plates mean?
From the passenger seat I scanned semi-trailers, too, and tried to guess what the huge letters meant–were they acronyms or abbreviations? One truck’s trailer had four large letters across the rear doors (C,R,S,and T), and I attempted to make words out of them. The first badly-spelled word I created was “CuRST” (cursed). Is that how I felt this week, despite my intellectual efforts to remain “thankful in all things?” Then I realized I could have/should have made the word “ChRiST.”
Three days after I returned home the internet was restored with a simple reset of the modem, which is exactly what I needed–a reset of my attitude. I am grateful that changing the focus from my small “t” troubles to Jesus’ love and care helped transform my thinking. A few days of attending to my body’s physical needs (sleep in my own bed, good food, hot tea, and plenty of water) helped a great deal, too.
Do you remember the story of Elijah, when he ran for his life from Jezebel? He was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. He wished his life was over and fell asleep under the broom bush, but God did not condemn him or leave him in that state.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
1 Kings 19:5,6 NIV
God let Elijah sleep again and provided more food and water to prepare him for the forty day journey to Horeb (the mountain of God). There the great Counselor gently asks in verse nine,
What are you doing here, Elijah?
Elijah answers that he has tried to be faithful to God’s call on him, but now he is the last remaining prophet and fears for his life. God then answers him by revealing Himself.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV
Elijah recognizes the “still, small voice” (KJV) is God’s.
Reset. God starts over and asks a second time,
What are you doing here, Elijah?
and Elijah answers with the exact same words, but this time the Lord reveals His plans for Elijah’s (and Elisha’s) future and the encouraging truth that thousands remained faithful to God. Elijah was not alone.
I am grateful for the healing process that God has created in my body.
I am grateful that my troubles are small, developed-world inconveniences.
I am grateful that Jesus understands our frailties and is gentle with us, caring for us body, mind, and soul.
I am grateful for the “still, small voice” of the Lord.
I am grateful for the ability to “reset” my attitude and my relationship with Jesus.
Oh, and one more thing I am grateful for–the book I was reading when I became sick was Rich Mullins: A Devotional Biography: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (by ), and the chapter was “Bound to Come Some Trouble.”
I know there’s bound to come some trouble to your life
But reach out to Jesus and hold on tight
He’s been there before and He knows what it’s like
You’ll find He’s there
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV
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Background sunflower photos by Barb Briggs
linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee
linking with Holley Gerth at holleygerth.com
linking with Lyli Dunbar